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USW v. LATROBE STEEL CO.

June 1, 1978

UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, Plaintiff,
v.
LATROBE STEEL COMPANY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSENBERG

 This action by the plaintiff, United Steelworkers of America, AFL - CIO, to enforce a labor arbitration award against the defendant Latrobe Steel Company, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 185, is presently before me on cross-motions for summary judgment. The defendant argues that this award is unenforceable as a matter of law, having been procured through misrepresentation and also is one which was not within the Arbitrator's stated jurisdiction.

 On or about August 1, 1974, the plaintiff, United Steelworkers of America, and the defendant, Latrobe Steel Company, a subsidiary of the Timken Co., entered into a collective bargaining agreement, effective at all times material hereto, covering the terms and conditions of employment for the defendant's employees. Section VII(E)(5) of this collective bargaining agreement provides for the resolution of disputes between the plaintiff and the defendant through a grievance and arbitration procedure. *fn1" Part of the agreement also includes Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (SUB) under a company sponsored plan to provide income to employees who are wholly or partially unemployed. *fn2"

 In November 1975, the United States Department of Labor informed the defendant that a certificate of eligibility had been issued to employees of the defendant company to apply for readjustment allowances under the Trade Act of 1974. *fn3" Upon receipt of notice that the employees were receiving these Trade Adjustment Allowances (TRA's), the defendant started to include such payments as income received under a "State System" program and to reduce proportionately the benefit to the employees from the SUB fund. The plaintiff protested this action and filed a grievance on June 10, 1976. Although the arbitrator by his decision of May 16, 1977, sustained the plaintiff's grievance, the defendant refused to comply with what it considers is an illegal award.

 The narrow issue here is the extent to which this court may review an arbitrator's award rendered pursuant to a binding arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement. Although § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended 29 U.S.C. § 185, grants federal district court jurisdiction to order arbitration and to vacate or enforce arbitration awards, decisional law has consistently and strictly circumscribed the scope of this review.

 United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960), states in general terms the governing principle involved.

 Also,

 
"The question of interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is a question for the arbitrator. It is the arbitrator's construction which was bargained for; and so far as the arbitrator's decision concerns construction of the contract, the courts have no business overruling him because their interpretation of the contract is different from his." (at page 599, 80 S. Ct. at page 1362).

 In Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, C.A. 3, 1969, the Court held:

 
"That a labor arbitrator's award does 'draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement' if the interpretation can in any rational way be derived from the agreement, viewed in the light of its language, its context, and any other indicia of the parties' intention; only where there is a manifest disregard of the agreement, totally unsupported by principles of contract construction and the law of the shop, may a reviewing court disturb the award." (at page 1128)

 Therefore, the only role of a court in reviewing an arbitrator's interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement is to determine whether the award exceeds the limits of the arbitrator's contractual authority. *fn4" An arbitrator's jurisdiction is confined to the powers conferred upon him by the labor agreement and the scope of the issue or issues "marked out for his consideration" by the parties. Enterprise, supra.

 If the arbitrator undertakes, in effect, to amend the contract and substitute his own discretion for that of the parties or dispense "his own brand of industrial justice", the enforcement of the award must be denied. Enterprise, supra. If an examination of the record before the arbitrator reveals no support whatever for his determination, his award must be vacated. Electronics Corp. v. International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, Local 272, 492 F.2d 1255, C.A. 1, 1974.

 It is in this vein, the defendant argues, that the arbitrator ignored the plain wording of the agreement and thus exceeded the jurisdiction conferred on him by § VII(E)(5). However, the plain wording of that agreement is ambiguous - and the ...


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