The opinion of the court was delivered by: MUIR
This is an action for damages under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, for violation of provisions of a labor agreement amounting to a "no-strike" clause. Before the Court is the union local's motion for a stay of the action pending arbitration.
The only question raised by the motion is whether the Company's claim for damages is referable to arbitration. Since the obligation to submit a controversy to arbitration is wholly contractual, the answer depends on an interpretation of the agreement binding the parties. Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U.S. 238, 241, 82 S. Ct. 1318, 8 L. Ed. 2d 462 (1962); Boeing Co. v. International Union, U.A.A.& A. Implement Workers, 370 F.2d 969 (3d Cir. 1967).
It is well-established that arbitration clauses in labor-management contracts should be so construed as to effectuate Congressional policy favoring the settlement of labor disputes. Although a reluctant party may not be compelled to submit a controversy to arbitration unless under a fair construction of the agreement he is bound to do so, issues must be referred to arbitration unless "it may be said with positive assurance" that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of a construction that the plaintiff is bound to arbitrate the issues involved in its action for damages. United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Nav. Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582, 80 S. Ct. 1347, 1353, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409 (1960); Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., supra; Boeing Co. v. International Union, U.A.A. & A. Implement Workers, supra.
I am unable to say "with positive assurance" that the arbitration clause in the instant case "is not susceptible of an interpretation that covers" the dispute concerning damages resulting from the work stoppage.
It is true, as the Company argues, that the grievance procedure outlined in Steps 1 through 3 is not designed to accommodate Company grievances, but this fact is not dispositive and does not supply that "positive assurance" requisite to deny the defendant's motion to stay these proceedings.
Reduced to its simplest terms, the Company's argument is that since the grievance machinery does not give the Company the right to grieve, its claim for damages is not arbitrable.
This is a non sequitur. Section (a) provides that " any grievance arising between the Company and the Union or an employee represented by the Union" shall be settled by the procedure set forth in Paragraph 16. Section (c) provides:
"If no satisfactory settlement can be agreed upon, the parties shall select a mutually agreeable and impartial Arbitrator within five (5) days after disagreement
"Both parties agree to accept the decision of the Arbitrator as final and binding. * * *"
By its terms, then, the arbitration provision of this agreement covers every controversy between the Union and the Company. The Company properly distinguishes Yale & Towne Mfg. Co. v. Local Lodge No. 1717, 299 F.2d 882 (3d Cir. 1962); there, the contract expressly provided that "either party may invoke the grievance procedure." But its reliance upon Boeing Co. v. International Union, U.A.A. & A. Implement Workers, supra, is misplaced. In Boeing, the agreement expressly provided that the only arbitrable issues were those "involving the interpretation or application of the provisions of the agreement which have been processed through Step 4 of the grievance procedure." 370 F.2d at 971. That is not this case.
The Company attempts to distinguish Drake Bakeries v. American Bakery Workers, 370 U.S. 254, 8 L. Ed. 2d 474, 82 S. Ct. 1346 (1962). While it is true that in that case the agreement contained an express provision that "either party shall have the right to refer" grievances to arbitration, I do not find the absence of such an express provision in the instant case so compelling a consideration that I can say "with positive assurance" ...