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NATIONAL ELEVATOR, INDUS. v. LOCAL NO. 5

January 21, 1977

NATIONAL ELEVATOR INDUSTRIES, INC. (NEII), ON BEHALF OF ITSELF AND ITS MEMBER WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP., ELEVATOR DIVISION, Plaintiff
v.
LOCAL NO. 5, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS, Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff v. INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS, Third Party Defendant NATIONAL ELEVATOR INDUSTRIES, INC. (NEII), ON BEHALF OF ITSELF AND ITS MEMBER WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP., ELEVATOR DIVISION, Plaintiff v. LOCAL NO. 5, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS, Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff v. INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS, Third Party Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GORBEY

 GORBEY, Judge.

 The National Elevator Industry, Inc. (hereinafter "NEII") is a multi-employer association incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, established to represent for collective bargaining purposes employers in the elevator construction industry. One such employer represented by NEII is Westinghouse Electric Corp., Elevator Division (hereinafter "Westinghouse"). Local No. 5, International Union of Elevator Constructors (hereinafter "Local No. 5") is a local labor organization affiliated with and chartered by the International Union of Elevator Constructors (hereinafter "The International").

 NEII, on behalf of its employer-members, and The International, on behalf of its affiliated local unions, negotiate a national collective bargaining agreement (referred to as the "Standard Agreement"), a copy of which is attached as Exhibit A to the complaint in both Action No. 75-3299 and Action No. 76-490, which establishes the terms and conditions of employment for employees conveyed by the agreement. The Standard Agreement contains a "no-strike/no-lockout" provision (Article XI) as well as a grievance and arbitration clause (Article XV).

 In both arbitration proceedings Local No. 5 was found to have violated the no-strike provision of the Standard Agreement and damages were awarded against Local No. 5 for the resulting injuries incurred by Westinghouse. Both Arbitrators concluded that The International had not violated its responsibilities under the Standard Agreement and consequently was not liable for any damages.

 Local 5 claims that it was denied the opportunity to participate in the arbitration proceedings and for this reason Local 5 has refused to comply with the awards. The specific reasons, as stated by Local 5, why Local 5 believes it is not bound by the awards are as follows:

 
(1) The Standard Agreement does not provide for awarding damages by an arbitrator;
 
(2) The Standard Agreement does not provide for awarding damages or any kind of relief against a local union as opposed to the International;
 
(3) Despite the clear and undisputed conflict of interest between Local 5 and the International which was brought to the attention of all concerned, including the Arbitrators, only shortly before the hearings commenced, the Arbitrators refused to grant Local 5 a continuance to allow Local 5 to appear separately with its own attorney and to defend its position separately and apart from the International. Local 5 was, therefore, denied the opportunity of participating in the arbitrations and was denied the right of counsel. This egregious denial of due process to Local 5 rendered both arbitration proceedings completely void and unenforceable vis-a-vis Local 5.

 These two actions were commenced by NEII pursuant to 29 U.S.C. ยง 185 to enforce the arbitration awards against Local 5. In each action Local 5 joined The International as a third party defendant alleging that The International is either directly liable to the plaintiffs or is liable to Local 5 if Local 5 is held liable to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs and The International have each filed motions for summary judgment in each action. Local 5 has filed cross-motions for summary judgment in its favor against the plaintiffs. Since both cases involve the same issues of law and since both involve the same basic facts, the two cases will be decided together.

 Initially, Local 5 claimed that it was not a party to the Standard Agreement as it had not signed the Agreement, and therefore it had no liability for any violations of its provisions. I believe that Local 5 has since abandoned this defense, but in the event it has not, I will discuss it briefly.

 The Standard Agreement was negotiated by NEII and The International. This Agreement states in part in Article I that "The International Union of Elevator Constructors makes this agreement for and on behalf of its affiliated local unions . . ." The record is replete with facts and proof that Local 5 is one of those affiliated local unions and that Local 5 has in the past and continues today to conduct its day-to-day affairs in a manner wholly consistent with its status as a party to the Standard Agreement. Further, both arbitrators found that Local 5 is a party to the Standard Agreement and therefore subject to its provisions. As was said in a very similar situation in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in BLAKE CONSTRUCTION CO., INC. v. LABORERS' INT. U. OF N.A. :

 Should there be any doubt, I hold that Local 5 is bound by the terms of the Standard Agreement negotiated by NEII and The International.

 Before continuing this discussion, I shall reiterate what has now become hornbook law concerning the court's role in reviewing labor arbitration awards. As was stated by the Supreme Court in UNITED STEELWKRS. OF A. v. ENTERPRISE W. & C. CORP. :

 
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 ...

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