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AMERICAN CAN CO. v. UNITED PAPERMAKERS

March 29, 1973

American Can Company, Plaintiff
v.
United Papermakers And Paperworkers, AFL-CIO et al., Defendants


Troutman, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN

TROUTMAN, D.J..

 In this action, filed pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, plaintiff seeks to vacate an award of an arbitrator, permitting a single arbitrator to hear multiple grievances in a single arbitration proceeding. Plaintiff further seeks a declaratory judgment to the effect that under the collective bargaining agreement it is not obliged to arbitrate multiple grievances before the same arbitrator and an injunction, prohibiting defendant unions from further processing multiple grievances before the same arbitrator. Before the Court are defendant unions' motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and plaintiff employer's motion for summary judgment.

 Plaintiff manufactures paper and plastic products at two plants located in Easton, Pennsylvania. Defendants, United Papermakers and Paperworkers, AFL-CIO, and its Local Union No. 412, defendant unions, are the collective bargaining representatives for certain of plaintiff's employees at both plants. On December 29, 1970, plaintiff and defendant unions entered into a collective bargaining agreement, which provides that all "differences" and "disputes" shall be settled by a four-step grievance procedure, the final step of which is arbitration. The arbitration clause, set forth in Article VII, § 7.02 of the agreement provides as follows:

 The agreement further provides in Article XVII, § 1702:

 
"It is the intent of the parties hereto that the provisions of this agreement, which supersedes (the Agreement dated December 20, 1967 and) all prior Agreements and understandings, oral or written, express or implied, between such parties, shall govern their entire relationship and shall be the sole source of all rights or claims which the Union or its members may assert against the Company.
 
"The provisions of this agreement can be amended, supplemented, rescinded or otherwise altered only by mutual agreement in writing hereafter signed by the parties hereto."

 On November 8, 1971, defendant unions demanded arbitration on eighteen grievances, concerning eleven different issues and sought to select a single arbitrator to hear all eighteen grievances. Plaintiff informed defendant unions that it would refuse to arbitrate the grievances before the same arbitrator on the ground that it was not obliged to do so under the collective bargaining agreement. Following negotiations, the parties agreed to refer the issue, whether under the agreement multiple grievances may be submitted to a single arbitrator, to an arbitrator of the American Arbitration Association. *fn1" A hearing was held before the arbitrator on June 22, 1972, and on August 30, 1972, the arbitrator entered his award, permitting a single arbitrator to hear multiple grievances in the same arbitration proceeding. The arbitrator concluded that:

 
"* * * [The] most sensible and logical construction of Section 7.02 of the Agreement would regard the terms 'controversy', 'claim', and 'award' as class nouns employed in the generic sense, and that it would be adventitious and unreasonably literal to consider their singular grammatic form as commanding an exclusively singular application. It follows that Section 7.02 permits more than one grievance to be heard by a single arbitrator in one arbitration proceeding, and the Company has no basis under Section 7.02 for refusing to proceed with a multiple grievance arbitration. I will so rule."

 Plaintiff alleges that over its objection, the defendant unions presently are processing multiple grievances for assignment to a single arbitrator. Thus, plaintiff filed the instant action, challenging the arbitrator's award.

 The decisions of the Court of Appeals for this Circuit indicate that the scope of the Court's review of an arbitrator's award is extremely limited. Local 616, Int'l Union of Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers, AFL-CIO v. Byrd Plastics, Inc., 428 F.2d 23 (3d Cir. 1970); Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123 (3d Cir. 1969); Local 719, American Bakery & Confectionery Workers of America, AFL-CIO v. Nat'l Biscuit Co., 378 F.2d 918 (3d Cir. 1967). In United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960), the Supreme Court held that:

 In further construing the language in Enterprise Wheel, the Third Circuit in Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. ...


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