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INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF BOILERMAKERS v. TRAILMOBILE

April 4, 1973

International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO, Local Lodge No. 347, Plaintiff
v.
Trailmobile, Division of Pullman, Inc., Defendant


Higginbotham, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAM

 On April 4, 1972, shortly after the lunch break, a group of employees of the defendant, Trailmobile, assembled to voice their concern over the denial of wage payments for the previous day because of a power failure at the plant. After hearing of management's refusal to pay for the time lost, a small group of employees moved toward the main gate of the plant. Soon, all the employees followed and a general work stoppage ensued which lasted for two days until April 6, 1972. After the Company's investigation, ten men were discharged and two were suspended for sixty days. Pursuant to Articles XV § 3 *fn2" and XVI *fn3" of the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and management, the Union sought review of the Company's decision to discipline these employees. The Arbitrator, John Perry Horlacher, in a thorough and well-reasoned opinion, sustained the company's decision as to six employees, but ordered reinstatement with full back pay for six others.

 The law is clear both from the "Steelworkers Trilogy" *fn4" and several decisions *fn5" of the Third Circuit that the national labor policy of this nation favors the resolution of labor disputes by arbitration and severely limits the reviewing role of the District Court.

 As the Supreme Court noted in United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Company, 363 U.S. 564, 567-68, 80 S. Ct. 1343, 1346, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1403 (1960):

 
"The function of the Court is very limited when the parties have agreed to submit all questions of contract interpretation to the arbitrator. It is confined to ascertaining whether the party seeking arbitration is making a claim which on its face is governed by the contract."

 In another of the "Trilogy" cases, the Supreme Court further limited the appropriate role of the judiciary in reviewing arbitrator's awards to the following:

 
"The refusal of courts to review the merits of an arbitration award is the proper approach to arbitration under collective bargaining agreements. The federal policy of settling labor disputes by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards.
 
* * *
 
"[An] arbitrator is confined to interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreement; he does not sit to dispense his own brand of industrial justice. He may of course look for guidance from many sources, yet his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. When the arbitrator's words manifest an infidelity to this obligation, courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award." United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Co., 363 U.S. 593, 596-97, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 1360-61, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960).

 To make the exact nature of the District Court's restricted role even more precise, our Circuit has carefully delineated the standard of whether an arbitrator's award "draws its essence" from the contract as follows:

 
"[A] labor arbitrator's award does 'draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement' if the interpretation can in any rational way be derived from the agreement, viewed in the light of its language, its context, and any other indicia of the parties' intention; only where there is a manifest disregard of the agreement, totally unsupported by principles of contract construction and the law of the shop, may a reviewing court disturb the award." Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3d Cir. 1969).

 Thus, the preliminary, and in fact only, inquiry for this Court is the scope of the arbitrator's authority under the collective bargaining agreement here in issue in order to determine whether or not the award "draws its essence" from the agreement.

 Examination of the language of the arbitration clauses of the agreement *fn6" must begin ...


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