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COLLEGE HALL FASHIONS, INC. v. PHILADELPHIA JOINT

January 9, 1976

COLLEGE HALL FASHIONS, INC.
v.
PHILADELPHIA JOINT BOARD, AMALGAMATED CLOTHING WORKERS OF AMERICA



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

 BRODERICK, J.

 The plaintiff, College Hall Fashions, Inc. ("Company"), filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County to vacate an arbitrator's award in a dispute growing out of plaintiff's termination of its manufacturing operations. Pursuant to Section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 (29 U.S.C. § 185) *fn1" and 28 U.S.C. § 1441, defendant Philadelphia Joint Board, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America ("Union"), removed the action to this Court, and now moves for judgment on the pleadings. Inasmuch as the parties have presented material which is outside the pleadings, we will treat this motion as one for summary judgment as provided in Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. *fn2"

 The standards to be used in ruling on a motion for summary judgment are summarized in Moore's, Federal Practice, P 56.15[3] at 2335-36 as follows:

 
The courts are in entire agreement that moving party for summary judgment has the burden of showing the absence of any genuine issue as to all the material facts, which, under applicable principles of substantive law, entitle him to judgment as a matter of law.
 
The courts hold the movant to a strict standard. To satisfy his burden the movant must make a showing that is quite clear what the truth is, and that excludes any real doubt as to the existence of any genuine issue of material fact. (Footnotes omitted.)

 We find that the Union has met its burden and demonstrated that there are no genuine issues of material fact in this case; the only issue is an issue of law which arises from the Company's attack on the arbitrator's power under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to enter subject award. As a matter of law, we find that the Union is entitled to summary judgment.

 Facts.

 On October 18, 1974, the Union requested an arbitration hearing alleging that the Company, in violation of the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, continued to operate as a viable business entity, manufacturing and selling clothing under the trade name College Hall Fashions, Inc. after it had previously declared itself out of business. Because the Company was not employing its former employees, the Union requested the arbitrator to order the Company to employ all of its former employees or, in the alternative, to make provisions for severance pay for said employees. The Notice of Arbitration stated that the Union's request for severance pay was the issue to be decided. Prior to the hearing, the Company submitted a memorandum objecting to the arbitrator's jurisdiction and power either to hold an arbitration hearing or to enter any award.

 After a hearing held on November 7, 1974, the arbitrator found in favor of the Union and awarded payments in the amount of $40,000. The arbitrator found that under the Collective Bargaining Agreement he did not have the jurisdiction to award severance pay to the employees but that he did have the power to require the Company to make a payment to the Union in connection with the Company's breach of the agreement. These payments were to be distributed by the Union to the former employees. Furthermore, he held that the Company was bound by the 1974-1977 agreement between the Union and the Clothing Manufacturers Association of America, since the Company had never withdrawn from the Manufacturers' Association.

 In its petition to vacate the award, the Company claims that the award was improperly granted for numerous reasons. These include allegations that: the arbitrator exceeded his powers; the arbitrator ruled on matters not within the request for arbitration; the award was procured by corruption or other undue means; and the award contained plain mistakes of fact and law.

 Discussion.

 Jurisdiction to review arbitration awards exists in this Court pursuant to Section 301(a) of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, supra, n. 1. See, e.g., Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. Livingston, 274 F. Supp. 209, 213 (S.D. N.Y. 1967), aff'd 386 F.2d 451 (2d Cir. 1967); Kracoff v. Retail Clerks Local Union No. 1357, 244 F. Supp. 38, 40 (E.D. Pa. 1965). Reviewing courts traditionally have been reluctant to set aside arbitrators' decisions. This reluctance is consonant with the strong federal policy favoring the resolution of industrial disputes by arbitration, see, e.g., John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Livingston, 376 U.S. 543, 11 L. Ed. 2d 898, 84 S. Ct. 909 (1964); United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1403, 80 S. Ct. 1343 (1960); Gavlik Construction Co. v. H. F. Campbell v. The Wickes Corp., 526 F.2d 777 (1975, 3d Cir.) The court's policy in this regard stems from the recognition that "[it] is the 'arbitrators' construction which was bargained for . . ." United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 599, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960). A reviewing court may not interfere with an arbitration award simply because the court differs with an arbitrator's interpretation of provisions of the collective bargaining agreement; on the other hand, an arbitrator's zone of action is confined to the four corners of the bargaining agreement. Enterprise Wheel, supra.

 The scope of our review of the arbitrator's award is narrowly circumscribed. We can only disturb the award where there is a manifest disregard of the collective bargaining agreement, totally unsupported by principles of contract construction and the law of the shop; when fraud, partiality, or other misconduct on the part of the arbitrator is shown; or when the award violates the command of some law, is too vague and ambiguous to be enforced, or inconsistent with public policy. Ludwig Honold Manufacturing Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123 (3d Cir. 1969). The sole question before the Court is whether the arbitrator's decision is, "by reason of some circumstance outside the contract itself, 'so palpably faulty that no judge, or group of judges, could ever conceivably have made such a ruling.'" International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO v. Peerless Pressed Metal Corp., 489 F.2d 768, 769 (1st Cir. 1973), quoting Safeway Stores v. Bakery Workers Local 111, 390 F.2d 79, 82 (5th Cir. 1968). It has long been the rule that an award will not be set aside merely because the arbitrator erred in finding the facts or applying the law. Ludwig Honold, supra, 405 F.2d at 1132, Orion Shipping and Trading Co. v. Eastern States Petroleum Corp., 312 F.2d 299, 300 (2d Cir. 1963), cert. denied, 373 U.S. 949, 10 L. Ed. 2d 705, 83 S. Ct. 1679 (1963); Saxis Steamship Co. v. Multifacs International Traders, Inc., 375 F.2d 577, 582 (2d Cir. 1967); Transport Workers Union of Philadelphia, AFL-CIO, Local 234 v. Philadelphia Transportation Co., ...


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