between himself and Hyjurick was the direct result of the defendant company's decision to maintain Hyjurick's Rolling Department continuous service date upon his move from Unit 9 to Unit 16, and that the defendant company's actions were arbitrary, capricious, and racially discriminatory. Moreover, plaintiff claims that as a result of this improper application of Section 16, he was forced to initiate a grievance for a position that was rightfully his.
The dispositive issue before this Court is whether or not the defendant company's decision in maintaining Hyjurick's Rolling Department continuous service date, which resulted in giving Hyjurick, a white man, more seniority than the plaintiff, a black man, was based on race and, therefore, in violation of Title VII?
Plaintiff does not dispute the fact that he retained his initial Rolling Department service date of September 10, 1951, after an intra-departmental transfer following a one year layoff. Nor is it in dispute that John Hyjurick was one of twenty-one employees from shut down Unit No. 9 who rejected severance allowance and who were later transferred to different seniority units in the Rolling Department. All these men retained their initial Rolling Department service dates upon their intra-departmental moves.
The plaintiff presented no evidence nor did he establish any basis from which the Court could conclude that the defendant company acted arbitrarily or discriminatorily in violation of Title VII by permitting Hyjurick to maintain his continuous service date of July 25, 1941. The record reflects that even during the processing of the plaintiff's grievance it was never asserted that the awarding of greater seniority to Hyjurick rather than the plaintiff was based on race. Moreover, plaintiff's own testimony during the trial of this proceeding was that he would have filed his grievance claim even if Hyjurick had been black.
It is quite apparent from the testimony presented, that neither the defendant company's policy pertaining to intra-departmental transfers or the granting of greater seniority to Hyjurick rather than the plaintiff was founded or based upon any discriminatory practice in violation of Title VII. The record reveals that the defendant company at the Clairton Works had abandoned "Unit Seniority" in favor of departmental seniority since 1962. Accordingly, every person who made an intra-departmental transfer retained his initial continuous service date.
A most careful review of all the evidence fails to reveal any disparative effect upon plaintiff as a result of the company's policy on intra-departmental transfers since the policy in question affected all employees in plaintiff's department with less continuous service whether they were white or black. Moreover, the plaintiff presented no evidence nor can the Court conclude that the defendant company's policy with respect to intra-departmental transfers was artificial, arbitrary, or discriminatory.
Plaintiff's final contention is that because he was a black man, the defendants, United Steelworkers of America and United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO, Local No. 1557, failed to process his claim through arbitration and that numerous questions regarding the interpretation of Section 16 of the Basic Labor Agreement went unanswered.
The Court can find no merit to this contention. The law is well settled that "a wide range of reasonableness must be allowed to a statutory bargaining representative in serving the unit it represents, subject always to complete good faith and honesty of purpose in the exercise of its discretion." Ford Motor Company v. Huffman, 345 U.S. 330, 73 S. Ct. 681, 97 L. Ed. 1048 (1953).
This Court adheres to the general principle in labor management situations that a union must have the right to preserve its own integrity in good faith representation of its members by freeing it from an obligation to pursue meritless claims. Only when the unions conduct toward a member of the collective bargaining unit is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith can it be said to be a breach of the statutory duty of fair representation.
"For if a union's decision that a particular grievance lacks sufficient merit to justify arbitration would constitute a breach of the duty of fair representation because a judge or a jury later found the grievance meritorious, the union's incentive to settle such grievances short of arbitration would be seriously reduced." Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 87 S. Ct. 903, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1967).
A review of the record reveals that plaintiff has presented no evidence to support his contention that the defendant unions acted in a discriminatory manner in violation of Title VII. On the contrary, the record reflects that throughout the entire arbitration proceedings plaintiff was adequately informed as to what was being done in his behalf. Moreover, plaintiff has failed to establish any evidence that would indicate that the union's failure to present plaintiff's claim to arbitration was motivated by bad faith or based on some discriminatory reason. Mere conclusory allegations of discrimination are insufficient to support the plaintiff's claim. After a most thorough review of all the evidence, the Court is of the firm belief that the defendant unions acted properly and exercised absolute good faith in their decision not to pursue plaintiff's claim to arbitration.
Findings of fact and conclusions of law have not been separately stated but are included in the body of the foregoing opinion as specifically authorized by Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
An appropriate Order is entered.
AND NOW, this 22 day of March, 1976, judgment is hereby entered in favor of the defendants, United Steelworkers of America, United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO, Local No. 1557, and United States Steel Corporation, and against the plaintiff, William Larkin. Costs are to be paid by the plaintiff.