As a result of the layoff of the warehousemen, Local 169 submitted a letter claim against Acme on March 17, 1977, contending that the closing of the Distribution Centers by Acme constituted a lockout by Acme of its warehouse employees represented by Local 169. An arbitration hearing was held on December 9, 1977 before Arbitrator Buckwalter, who declared the record closed as of January 28, 1978 and rendered his decision denying Local 169's claim on March 7, 1978. It is that decision of Arbitrator Buckwalter that is the subject of dispute in the case presently before this Court.
During this same period, the Bakery Workers Local 6, representing the bakery workers at Acme's Philadelphia bakery which had been closed along with Acme's retail stores and Distribution Centers, filed a lockout grievance against Acme. The hearing in connection with that grievance was held on December 27, 1977 before Arbitrator Koretz, whose decision finding that there was a lockout became known to the parties in the present action on February 24, 1978, prior to Arbitrator Buckwalter's decision, but subsequent to the closing of the record by Arbitrator Buckwalter.
Counsel for Local 169, by letter dated February 24, 1978, requested through the American Arbitration Association (AAA), under whose auspices the arbitration was held, that Arbitrator Buckwalter reopen the hearing in order to consider the Koretz decision. Acme objected to this request to reopen the hearing by letter dated February 28, 1978, but stated that in the event the AAA transmitted the request to Arbitrator Buckwalter, it should also transmit a copy of the Koretz Opinion and Award and a letter enclosed from Acme's counsel to Arbitrator Buckwalter, dated February 28, 1978, stating Acme's position that if the Arbitrator entertained Local 169's request, Acme preferred that he actually read the Koretz decision in conjunction with the enclosed letter. The AAA decided to transmit the request to Arbitrator Buckwalter, who ruled that the hearing would not be reopened. The parties were so notified by the AAA by letter dated March 6, 1978. Arbitrator Buckwalter rendered his decision denying Local 169's grievance on March 7, 1978.
In its motion for summary judgment vacating the award of the arbitrator, Local 169 contends that Arbitrator Buckwalter, by deciding not to reopen the hearing to accept the Koretz decision into the record, exceeded his authority and refused to hear pertinent and material evidence, thereby depriving plaintiff of a fair hearing. In its motion for summary judgment affirming the award of the arbitrator, Acme contends that because Arbitrator Buckwalter's decision drew its essence from the collective bargaining agreement, Acme is entitled, as a matter of law, to have his award affirmed by this Court.
Jurisdiction to review arbitration awards exists in this Court pursuant to section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. See, e.g., Int'l Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers v. RCA Corp., 461 F. Supp. 957 (E.D. Pa. 1978); Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. Livingston, 274 F. Supp. 209, 213 (S.D.N.Y.), Aff'd, 386 F.2d 451 (2d Cir. 1967); Kracoff v. Retail Clerks Local Union No. 1357, 244 F. Supp. 38, 40 (E.D. Pa. 1965). Reviewing courts traditionally have been reluctant to set aside arbitrators' decisions. This reluctance is consonant with the strong federal policy favoring the resolution of industrial disputes by arbitration. See John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Livingston, 376 U.S. 543, 84 S. Ct. 909, 11 L. Ed. 2d 898 (1964); United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 80 S. Ct. 1347, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409 (1960); Gavlik Construction Co. v. H. F. Campbell v. The Wickes Corp., 526 F.2d 777 (3d Cir. 1975). The court's policy in this regard stems from the recognition that "(i)t is the arbitrators' construction which was bargained for . . ." United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960). A reviewing court may not interfere with an arbitration award simply because the court differs with an arbitrator's interpretation of provisions of the collective bargaining agreement; on the other hand, an arbitrator's zone of action is confined to the four corners of the bargaining agreement. Id.; International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers v. RCA Corp., 461 F. Supp. 957 (E.D. Pa. 1978).
The scope of our review of the arbitrator's award is narrowly circumscribed. We may only disturb the award where there is a manifest disregard of the collective bargaining agreement, totally unsupported by principles of contract construction and the law of the shop; when fraud, partiality, or other misconduct on the part of the arbitrator is shown; or when the award violates the command of some law, is too vague and ambiguous to be enforced, or is inconsistent with public policy. Ludwig Honold Manufacturing Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123 (3d Cir. 1969). The sole question before the Court is whether the arbitrator's decision is, "by reason of some circumstance outside the contract itself, "so palpably faulty that no judge, or group of judges, could ever conceivably have made such a ruling.' " International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO v. Peerless Pressed Metal Corp., 489 F.2d 768, 769 (1st Cir. 1973), Quoting Safeway Stores v. Bakery Workers Local 111, 390 F.2d 79, 82 (5th Cir. 1968). It has long been the rule that an award will not be set aside merely because the arbitrator erred in finding the facts or applying the law. Ludwig Honold, supra, 405 F.2d at 1132; Saxis Steamship Co. v. Multifacs International Traders, Inc., 375 F.2d 577, 582 (2d Cir. 1967); Orion Shipping and Trading Co. v. Eastern States Petroleum Corp., 312 F.2d 299, 300 (2d Cir.), Cert. denied, 373 U.S. 949, 83 S. Ct. 1679, 10 L. Ed. 2d 705 (1963); Transport Workers Union of Philadelphia, AFL-CIO, Local 234 v. Philadelphia Transportation Co., 283 F. Supp. 597, 599 (E.D. Pa. 1968). In this regard it must be remembered that it is the award, rather than the specific reasoning employed, that a court must review. Schlesinger v. Building Service Employees International Union, Local 252, 367 F. Supp. 760, 764 (E.D. Pa.1973); American Can Co. v. United Papermakers and Paperworkers, AFL-CIO, 356 F. Supp. 495-500 (E.D. Pa. 1973).
With the foregoing precepts as a foundation, we have reviewed the record of the arbitration and conclude that the motion of the plaintiff, Local 169, to have the Court vacate the arbitrator's award must be denied and that the motion of defendant, Acme, for summary judgment must be granted.
In determining whether an arbitrator exceeded his authority in making an award, this Court is guided by the standard enunciated by the Supreme Court in United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 1361, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960):
(A)n arbitrator is confined to interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreement; he does not sit to dispense his own brand of industrial justice. He may of course look for guidance from many sources, yet his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. When the arbitrator's awards manifest an infidelity to this obligation, courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award.