The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARSH
The plaintiff, Jerome R. Siskey, has filed this action against his employer, Eazor Express, Inc. (Eazor), and his labor union pursuant to Section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. At issue are motions for summary judgment filed by Eazor and the union defendants, General Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers, Local 261 (Local 261) and Teamsters Joint Council No. 40. In our opinion the motions should be granted.
Plaintiff asserts that Eazor breached its contractual duty with respect to the plaintiff's seniority rights under the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Plaintiff filed a grievance which was processed in accordance with the procedures provided in the collective bargaining agreement, and the grievance was ultimately rejected by the arbitration committee whose decisions are to be final and binding. Generally, the scope of judicial review of an arbitration award is severely limited and does not reach the merits of the award. United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960); Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3rd Cir. 1969). Furthermore, suits challenging such arbitration decisions are generally subject to a three-month statute of limitations which would bar the instant action filed eleven months after the arbitration decision. International Union v. Hoosier Cardinal Corporation, 383 U.S. 696, 704-705, 86 S. Ct. 1107, 16 L. Ed. 2d 192 (1966); United Mine Workers v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 378 F. Supp. 1206, 1211-1212 (W.D. Pa.1974); International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union No. 249 v. Motor Freight Express, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 724, 726 (W.D.Pa.1973). However, in this action the plaintiff's challenge to the arbitration decision is accompanied by a claim that the defendant union breached its duty of fair representation. Thus, we must examine the situation to determine whether the alleged breach of duty by the union undermined the integrity of the arbitral process so seriously as to bar the finality provisions of the contract. Hines v. Anchor Motor Freight, Inc., 424 U.S. 554, 96 S. Ct. 1048, 47 L. Ed. 2d 231(decided March 3, 1976).
The facts set forth in the complaint, the plaintiff's deposition, and the affidavits accompanying the pleadings are as follows:
The plaintiff, a 35-year-old man, is completely blind in his right eye. (Siskey Deposition p. 15).
He was hired by defendant Eazor as a loading dock worker in Pittsburgh in August, 1966. (Dep. p. 5). In July 1971, Eazor asked for volunteers to transfer from Pittsburgh to Eazor's facility in West Middlesex about 70 miles from Pittsburgh. Plaintiff signed up and went to work at West Middlesex as a dock worker. He was never classified as a truck driver and he did not work as a truck driver at West Middlesex. (Dep. pp. 7, 8). In September 1971, plaintiff was appointed by the shop steward to be a committeeman in Local Union 261. (Dep. p. 9).
In mid-1973, Eazor decided to transfer certain operations from West Middlesex to the Pittsburgh terminal. The planned change of operations would reduce by 25 the number of employees at the West Middlesex terminal. The 22 positions remaining at West Middlesex were to be filled by "qualified combination men" -- i.e., men who were qualified to drive a truck as well as work on the dock.
(Affidavit of Andrew Krantz, Terminal Manager at Eazor's West Middlesex facility). Plaintiff did not qualify as a truck driver outside the Sharon Commercial Zone because of his blind eye. (Dep. p. 15).
At the time of the aforementioned transfer, plaintiff was approximately number 14 on the West Middlesex seniority list. (Affidavit of Krantz, Ex. B).
On July 25, 1973, Eazor sent the plaintiff a letter explaining that he and the other 24 men whose jobs were affected by the change of operations were being offered work at the Eazor Terminal in Pittsburgh with full company seniority. (Dep. Ex. 1). Plaintiff rejected the work offer telling the company he did not want to move back to Pittsburgh. (Dep. p. 11).
On August 21, plaintiff filed a grievance with the union alleging a violation of the seniority provision of the collective bargaining agreement and stating: "I was laid off by letter dated August 17, 1973. Company told me I cannot qualify for work in West Middlesex and I feel I can." He requested that he be called for work at West Middlesex and be paid for all lost wages. (Dep.Ex. 3).
Mr. Jack Frazier, who was then the business agent for Local 261 and who had prepared the grievance form for the plaintiff (Dep. pp. 44-45), discussed the grievance with company officials, but the dispute was not resolved. (Affidavit of Frazier).
Pursuant to Article 46, § 1(c)
of the collective bargaining agreement, the grievance was submitted to the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employers Joint Area Committee, the arbitrators. This arbitration committee considered plaintiff's grievance on September 12, 1973, and issued the following findings:
"Union Position: The Grievant, Jerome R. Siskey, claimed he was laid off 8/17/73 because he allegedly cannot qualify for work in West Middlesex whereas the Grievant feels he is qualified and should be called for work. Grievant is claiming pay for all lost wages.
"Employer Position: The company stated the Grievant cannot qualify under [United States Department of Transportation regulations] because of eye impairment to work outside commercial zone. Change of operations stated that employees who stayed at West ...