minute. Those numbers are then added directly to the base minute to calculate the incentive standard. The difference between Cole's method of calculation and that used by the arbitrator is that the arbitrator's method added the percentage of the base minute attributable to the factors of delay, personal allowance, and fatigue to the base minute before that number was multiplied by the percentage attributable to the incentive bonus. Thus, the arbitrator's method produces a higher incentive standard than does the one used by Cole. Cole contends that the arbitrator exceeded the scope of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by adopting this different method in view of the fact that Cole's method had been used as the exclusive means of determining incentive standards for at least 20 years. The Union, on the other hand, seeks enforcement of the award, stating that the question submitted to the arbitrator was what was a "fair" amount of bonus on the two automatic presses and that his decision is simply an answer to that question.
The Court's review of a decision of a labor arbitrator is circumscribed by a policy of deferring to his judgment on the merits so long as it "draws its essence" from the Collective Bargaining Agreement. See United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597-99, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960). In Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123 (3d Cir. 1969), the Court held that a labor arbitrator's award must be affirmed if his interpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement can reasonably be derived from the Agreement viewed in the light of its language, its context, and any other manifestations of the parties' intentions. The Court can refuse to enforce the arbitrator's decision only if it demonstrates manifest disregard of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if there was fraud or misconduct on the part of the arbitrator, if the award violates a specific command of some law, if it is too vague to enforce, or if it is inconsistent with public policy. See Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128-29 and n.27 (3d Cir. 1969). See also Hart v. Overseas Nat'l Airways, Inc., 541 F.2d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1976); N.F. & M. Corp. v. United Steelworkers, 524 F.2d 756, 759 (3d Cir. 1975); Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers v. R.C.A. Corp., 516 F.2d 1336, 1339-1340 (3d Cir. 1975). The United Steelworkers contend that Arbitrator Dash's award clearly derives its essence from the collective bargaining agreement while Cole contends both that his award went beyond the terms of the Agreement and that the award exceeded the scope of his authority based upon the questions submitted for arbitration.
In Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123 (3d Cir. 1969), the arbitrator whose award was being questioned had been faced with two possible interpretations of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The interpretation adopted by the arbitrator was found by the Court of Appeals to conform both to the general canons of contract construction and to the "common law of the shop." The Court concluded that the award did not "[fly] in the face of any rational interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement" and affirmed the award. Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d at 1133. The Court did not review the reasoning of the arbitrator but merely determined that it was rational for him to reach the conclusion upon which he based his award.
In United Mine Workers v. Pennweir Constr. Co., 379 F. Supp. 827 (W.D. Pa. 1974), an employee had been discharged summarily within 30 days of the date of his hiring under the employer's customary practice of placing all new employees on probation for a period of 30 days. The dismissed employee filed a grievance which was submitted to arbitration. The arbitrator reinstated the employee based upon a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that there should be no summary discharge of any employees. Although the Court recognized the argument of the company that it had been its practice for many years to treat all employees as probationary for the first 30 days of work, the Court noted that a conflict in rules existed and that the arbitrator's decision clearly drew its authority from the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Even if the arbitrator had misconstrued the agreement, so long as his decision was based upon it, the Court held that it had no power to substitute its judgment for that of the arbitrator. United Mineworkers v. Pennweir Constr. Co., 379 F. Supp. at 829, citing Bernhardt v. Polygraphic Co. of America, 350 U.S. 198, 203, 100 L. Ed. 199, 76 S. Ct. 273 n. 4 (1956).
It is the Court's view that arbitrator Dash's decision in this case "drew its essence" from the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Cole and the United Steelworkers of America. Article XIV of that agreement states no more than that the Standard Hour Incentive Plan should be applied to determine the amount of bonus to be paid to employees. There is no express provision of the agreement concerning the method of calculating the standards to be used, including the production standard for the base minute. The percentages used by arbitrator Dash in computing the amount of bonus are drawn directly from Article XIV. Therefore, where no method is specified in the collective bargaining agreement the fact that the arbitrator employed a different method of calculation from that which Cole had commonly used does not mandate the conclusion that his award did not draw its essence from the agreement. Although Cole states correctly that the law of the shop can be relevant to an arbitrator's decision, see Textile Workers Union v. Textile Paper Products, Inc., 405 F.2d 397 (5th Cir. 1968), the decisions support only the proposition that an arbitrator is entitled to look at the past practices of the parties in order to read meaning into the Collective Bargaining Agreement and not that he must do so where an ambiguity exists. See also Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1131 (3d Cir. 1969).
Cole also contends, however, that the award violated the express language of Article XIV which makes the incentive standard the "sum" of all the factors listed, stating that "sum" implies simple addition and not the "compounding" engaged in by Arbitrator Dash. "Sum," however, means "to add together," see Oxford English Dictionary (microprint ed. 1971), p. 3149 and Webster's 3d New Int'l Dictionary (1966), p. 2289, and the arbitrator did add his figures together. The Court cannot say that his interpretation of the word "sum" in Article XIV is irrational.
Even if the arbitrator's award draws its essence from the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it may be set aside if the award exceeds the scope of the issues submitted to arbitration. See, e.g., Nuest v. Westinghouse Air Brake Co., 313 F. Supp. 1228, 1234 (S.D. Ill. 1970); See also Communications Equipment Workers, Inc. v. Western Elec. Co., 320 F. Supp. 1277, 1280 (D. Md. 1970). However, in determining what issues were submitted to the arbitrator, because of the policy favoring the finality of an arbitrator's decision, the Court may not construe the documents setting forth a grievance in the same way it would construe a pleading filed in a court of law. See Keystone Printed Specialties v. Scranton Printing Pressmen & Assistants, 386 F. Supp. 416, 422 (M.D. Pa. 1974) (Sheridan, C.J.). In this case, the Union contends that the issue before the arbitrator was what was the fair amount of bonus to be awarded to operators of the two automatic presses. Cole alleges that the arbitrator's decision was limited to which of the two figures submitted was correct, the 30.5% net bonus submitted by Cole or the 37.5% net bonus submitted by the Union. An affidavit of Ralph C. Dasher, a union rate steward, accompanying the Union's brief for summary judgment indicates that the grievance report filed concerning the amount of bonus states only that the operators charged that the machines "do not yield a fair amount of bonus." It is apparent from Exhibit 3 attached to the Dasher affidavit, a statement of the company's position on his grievance, that the parties believed that the arbitrator should decide what was a "fair" amount of bonus because they address the issue of whether the profit being earned on the machines was "fair" as defined in Webster's Dictionary. The evidence submitted to the arbitrator was apparently without restriction and the arbitrator himself believed that it was his duty to decide what was a "fair" bonus rather than whether one side or the other had submitted the correct figure. On page 9 of his decision, Exhibit B attached to Cole's complaint, the arbitrator states that "the Union's suggestion that an incentive bonus of 37.5% be added to the standard is not far off from an appropriate result . . . ." (Emphasis supplied). Therefore, the Court determines that the issue submitted to the arbitrator was what was a fair bonus to be given to the operators of the two automatic presses in question and not simply which one of a 30.5% or a 37.5% net bonus was the correct result.
The United Steelworkers have also contended that the Court would be without power to vacate the judgment of the arbitrator because Cole did not file an appropriate action against an appropriate party within three months of the date of the arbitrator's decision. Cole's action was filed on 6/22/77 against the United Steelworkers of America, Local No. 4407, whereas United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO is the collective bargaining agent with whom Cole entered into the agreement. The arbitrator's award was filed on March 28, 1977 and as of the date of this Opinion Cole has not filed such an action against the United Steelworkers. It is clear that a suit to vacate and set aside an arbitrator's award must be brought within 3 months of the date of the award. See Siskey v. General Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen & Helpers, 419 F. Supp. 48, 50 (W.D. Pa. 1976); Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Motor Freight Express, Inc., 356 F. Supp. 724, 726 (W.D. Pa. 1973). However, because the Court will grant United Steelworkers' motion for summary judgment and order that the arbitrator's award be enforced, the Court need not reach the question of whether Cole's action was timely filed or filed against the proper party.
An appropriate order will be entered.
MUIR, U.S. District Judge
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in 441 F. Supp.]
1. Cole's motion for summary judgment is denied.
2. United Steelworkers of America AFL-CIO's motion for summary judgment is granted.
3. Cole shall abide by the decision of arbitrator G. Allen Dash, Jr. setting the standard incentive rates for automatic presses Nos. 7306 and 7082.
4. The Clerk of Court shall enter judgment in favor of United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO.
MUIR, U.S. District Judge
The issues having been duly reviewed by the Honorable Malcolm Muir, United States District Judge, and a decision having been rendered this date thereon,
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that judgment be and hereby is entered in favor of UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, and the case be and hereby is dismissed.
Dated at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, this 9th day of December, 1977.
Donald R. Berry, Clerk of Court
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.