The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN
Material facts are not in dispute. Both parties are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The agreement requires that all grievances or disputes arising during the term of the agreement concerning the interpretation or application of the provisions of the agreement would be submitted to arbitration; the arbitrator would have no power to amend, modify, or change the agreement, or establish any terms or conditions under the agreement; the decision of the arbitrator would be final and binding on the parties and employees involved; and in the event of an alleged or asserted breach of contract there was a procedure for expedited arbitration.
The agreement also contains the following language regarding strikes and lockouts:
1. The parties agree that there shall be no authorized strikes, stoppages of work slowdowns, lockouts, or any other interferences of whatsoever nature during the life of this Agreement.
2. Nothing herein contained, however, shall compel any employee to walk through a picket line set up by the Local Unions, parties to this Agreement; Meat Cutters Retail Joint Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity; Philadelphia Teamsters Local Nos. 500, 169, 463; and American Bakery and Confectionery Workers Local Nos. 492, 6; provided said strike has received written approval of the International Unions affiliated with the Local Unions indicated above.
3. In the event of a threat of, preparation for, or the actuality of an unauthorized work stoppage, walkout or strike, the Union and all of its officials will take every reasonable action to prevent and to stop such proceedings by any of its members. "
The Council also has a contract with the Meat Cutters Retail Joint Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity (the Meat Cutters). On or about March 6, 1977, the Meat Cutters, who were negotiating a new contract with the Council, called a strike against Food Fair. On or about March 9, 1977 the three companies closed down their stores, despite the fact that this resulted in closing out the Retail Clerks who had a contract still in effect and despite the no-lockout provision of that ongoing contract.
The issue then arose as to whether A&P and Acme, who were not being struck, violated the no-lockout provisions of their contract with the Retail Clerks, and this matter was submitted to Arbitrator Gill. On March 16, 1977, Gill issued an Award holding that A&P and Acme had violated the no-lockout provision of their contract with the Retail Clerks. This appeal followed; the Council now contends that the Award does not draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement; it was rendered in manifest disregard of the law; it is arbitrary and capricious; it is based upon a gross mistake of fact; it contravenes public policy; it is beyond the submission to the arbitrator; it is ambiguous; and the arbitrator exceeded his authority under the agreement in rendering the award.
It is well settled that reviewing courts can only set aside arbitration awards under extreme circumstances; judicial review of an arbitrator's award is severely limited and the arbitrator's interpretation of contractual provisions will not be disturbed if the interpretation can in any way be derived from the agreement. Local 103 of I.U.E., R. & M. Workers v. RCA Corp., 516 F.2d 1336 (3d Cir. 1975). There is strong public policy in encouraging the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes by means of the device of arbitration. Thus, it has been stated that the "interpretation of labor arbitrators must not be disturbed so long as they are not in 'manifest disregard' of the law and that the issue of 'whether the arbitrators misconstrued a contract is not open the award to judicial review.' Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3d Cir. 1969). Accordingly, a labor arbitrator's award draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement if the interpretation can in any 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. See Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, supra.
Thus, the circumstances in which an arbitrator's award may be disturbed are extreme: the award may be disturbed if it is too vague and ambiguous for enforcement, Ferrick v. B. & O. Railroad Co., 447 F.2d 89 (3d Cir. 1971); Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, supra ; or if the award is dishonest, capricious or beyond the authority of the collective bargaining agreement, Price v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, 457 F.2d 605 (3d Cir. 1972); or if it is completely irrational, Swift Industries, Inc. v. Botany Industries, Inc., 466 F.2d 1125 (3d Cir. 1972); or if it is patently frivolous, Amalgamated Meat Cutters v. Cross Brothers Meat Packers, 518 F.2d 1113 ...