award made under the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement are now fairly well established.
If the parties to a collective bargaining agreement have agreed to submit a particular dispute to arbitration, it is the arbitrator's construction of that contract which was bargained for and so far as the arbitrator's decision concerns the construction of the contract, the courts have no business overruling him merely because their interpretation of the agreement is different from his. However, an arbitrator does not sit to dispense his own brand of industrial justice, and while he may look for guidance to many sources, his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960).
The interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement by labor arbitrators must not be disturbed so long as it is not in manifest disregard of the law. And the award of arbitrators is not opened to judicial review merely because they have misconstrued a contract. Further, 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. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Etc. v. Western Pennsylvania Motor Carriers Association, supra. Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123 (3rd Cir., 1969).
Notwithstanding the well recognized limited scope of our review of an award deemed to be arbitrable, there are circumstances when an award may be vacated. The court in Ludwig listed several: An award may be vacated where it is shown that there was fraud, partiality, or other misconduct on the part of the arbitrator, or where it violates a specific command of some law, or, citing Black v. Cutter Laboratories, 43 Cal.2d 788, 798, 278 P.2d 905, 911 (1953), where the award is inconsistent with public policy. Ludwig, supra. fn. 27, pages 1128-1129.
We believe that the awards here in question are inconsistent with the public policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and must therefore be vacated.
The Vehicle Code specifically provides that "Every truck, trailer and truck tractor (without a semitrailer) driven on a highway shall be so constructed or equipped as to bar water or other road surface substances thrown from the rear wheels of such vehicle or combination at tangents exceeding 221/2 degrees, measured from the road surface, from passing in a straight line to the rear of such vehicle or combination." 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 4533. These items of equipment are commonly referred to as "mud flaps."
That Code requires that registration plates be obtained and securely fastened to the vehicles to which they are assigned or on which their use is authorized in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and penalties are provided making it a summary offense for any person to drive, or for an owner knowingly to permit to be driven upon any highway any vehicle of a type required to be registered which is not registered. 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1331, 1332, 1301.
The Vehicle Code further states that if a registration plate has been lost, stolen, or damaged or rendered illegible, this fact must be made known to the Department of Motor Vehicles within forty-eight hours. In those circumstances the owner or operator can avoid penalty for failing to have the registration plate secured to the vehicle to which it applies, but only if he has in his possession an affidavit that the plate was lost or stolen and that application for a new plate was made within forty-eight hours as required by the law. 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1333.
The foregoing provisions of the Vehicle Code, obviously designed and intended by the Pennsylvania Legislature to promote the safe and proper use of its highways, constitute the law and, of course, the public policy of Pennsylvania. The awards of the Joint Area Committee upholding the defendant's right to compel its employees to violate that law are plainly contrary to public policy and will be vacated.
Having decided that the Joint Area Committee awards must be vacated because they are contrary to the public policy of Pennsylvania, the basis of those awards becomes irrelevant, and it is unnecessary, for example, that we even consider whether or not the Committee misapplied or misconstrued the Agreement. Nevertheless, we do note in passing that Article XVI of the Agreement specifically prohibits the defendant from requiring its employees ". . . to take out on the streets or highways any vehicle that is not in safe operating condition or equipped with the safety appliances required by law . . ." or under any circumstance to require an employee ". . . to engage in any activity . . . in violation of any applicable statute or court order, or in violation of a government regulation relating to safety of person or equipment . . ."
While we have not based our decision on this point, it would seem that the Committee did indeed "dispense (its) own brand of industrial justice"
when it ignored the plain language of the Agreement and denied the grievances on the ground that the "Company accepts all liability for alleged violations and will pay fines, if any, that may be levied . . . ."