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ARCO POLYMERS, INC. v. LOCAL 8-74
July 10, 1981
ARCO POLYMERS, INC., Plaintiff,
LOCAL 8-74, AFFILIATED WITH the OIL, CHEMICAL AND ATOMIC WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DIAMOND
Plaintiff, the employer-party to a collective bargaining agreement between it and the defendant union, brought this suit under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, to vacate or modify an arbitrator's award. Cross motions for summary judgment are before the court. Plaintiff's motion will be granted and the defendant's denied.
Plaintiff, a manufacturer of plastic resins, and defendant, a labor organization serving as the collective bargaining representative of plaintiff's employees, are parties to a collective bargaining agreement (Agreement). The provisions of that contract relevant here are: Article XVI which sets forth a grievance procedure for dispute resolution and provides for final and binding arbitration; Section H 1. of that Article which states that "(t)he arbitration procedure shall not be used to change or modify this Agreement in any respect." Section J 1. of the same Article which declares that "Employees shall be discharged only for just cause." and Article XXVI, Section B 1. which provides that "Employees absent from work without good and sufficient cause for more than four (4) consecutive days shall be subject to discharge."
The dispute underlying this case arose when plaintiff notified an employee, one Larry Anderson, that he was discharged pursuant to Article XXVI, Section B 1. The defendant union filed a grievance in response to the discharge notice, and the matter proceeded to arbitration where probational reinstatement of Mr. Anderson was ordered. Plaintiff then filed this suit seeking to have the award vacated or modified on the ground that the arbitrator exceeded his authority under Article XVI, Section H 1. of the Agreement when he nullified the company's right under Article XXVI, Section B 1. to discharge an employee who failed to show good and sufficient cause for an absence from work of more than four consecutive days. The defendant answered that the award "draws its essence" from the collective bargaining agreement and, therefore, should be affirmed.
The general principles which govern the judicial review of an arbitrator's award are summarized by the Third Circuit in NF & M Corp. v. United Steelworkers of America, 524 F.2d 756 (3rd Cir. 1975). We quote relevant excerpts from pages 759-760.
Although the scope of judicial review of an arbitrator's award is severely limited, a court must ascertain whether the award "draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement." United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 1361, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960); Local 103 of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO v. RCA Corp., 516 F.2d 1336 (3rd Cir. 1975). This Circuit has elaborated upon that language:
(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.
Ludwig Honold Manufacturing Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3rd Cir. 1969).
If the arbitrator's award has deviated from the plain meaning of a labor contract provision, it must find support in the contract itself or in prior practices demonstrating relaxation of the literal language. H. K. Porter Co., Inc. v. United Saw, File and Steel Products Workers of America, 333 F.2d 596 (3rd Cir. 1964). An arbitrator may find compliance with the express terms of the grievance procedure in a labor contract excused by the parties' practical construction of it or "in light of the practice of the shop." Yellow Cab Co. v. Democratic Union Organizing Committee, Local 777, 398 F.2d 735, 737 (7th Cir. 1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1015, 89 S. Ct. 619, 21 L. Ed. 2d 561 (1969).
An arbitrator is not required to list his reasons for the award, nor should an ambiguity in his opinion be seized upon to support an inference that he exceeded his authority. Enterprise, supra. Further, a court is precluded from overturning an award for errors in assessing the credibility of witnesses, in the weight accorded their testimony, or in the determination of factual issues. Amalgamated Butchers, Local 641 v. Capitol Packing Co., 413 F.2d 668 (10th Cir. 1969); Dallas Typographical Union, No. 173 v. A. H. Belo Corp., 372 F.2d 577 (5th Cir. 1967); International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers, Local 874 v. St. Regis Paper Co., 362 F.2d 711 (5th Cir. 1966).
Nonetheless, if an examination of the record before the arbitrator reveals no support whatever for his determinations, his award must be vacated. Electronics Corp. v. International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, Local ...
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