at 29. When Gould refused, the Union filed a grievance under the grievance procedure of the collective bargaining agreement. Id. The arbitrator although rejecting the Union's demand for full funding, did require that Gould recalculate its contributions so that benefits could be increased. Id. at 29.
The plaintiff-appellees, active employees whose pension benefits had vested, brought an action in district court alleging that First Trust, administrator of the plan, had breached its fiduciary duty in refusing to pay benefits when due. Id. at 30. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiffs were bound by the arbitration. The district court held that the arbitration was not binding.
The district court certified for appeal the following question: "Whether Plaintiffs are bound by the results of the arbitration between Gould and their collective bargaining representative and thereby barred from this suit." Id. at 30. In answering in the affirmative and reversing the order of the district court, the Court of Appeals found that Gould and the Union "referred the matter to arbitration pursuant to a viable collective bargaining agreement." Id. at 30. The court relied on "the national policy favoring arbitration of labor disputes." Id. at 31. In interpreting the collective bargaining agreement which, in Article XVII, stated that the grievance procedure would be used to resolve "any questions that may arise in the minds of employees," the Court of Appeals finds that "pension matters properly could be included among these questions, as the pension agreement is." Id. at 32. The court went further and stated that "the dispute between the UAW and Gould over this pension plan was a classic case for arbitration." Id. at 32.
We find the opinion dispositive of the issue before us. The issue was properly made a part of the collective bargaining agreement and the arbitration bars this action. Further, although plaintiff claims to assert her rights under ERISA, the gravamen of her complaint is the interpretation of the Plan and the collective bargaining agreement. Her dissatisfaction with the results of the arbitration before an impartial arbitrator does not give her cause to adjudicate the matter de novo before this court.
Plaintiff contends that a holding that she is required to have the matter presented to an arbitrator and is bound by his determination establishes two classes of participants in the Plan. She argues that non-union participants have direct access to the courts and union participants are required to exhaust administrative remedies. This, she argues, establishes different rights among the participants and is another example of the manner in which the defendant has breached its fiduciary responsibilities to the plaintiff. Petitioner's Memorandum of Law at 5, footnote 1. Rather than establishing different rights, this result merely highlights the difference between being represented by a union and not being so represented. Plaintiff does not contend that arbitration cannot adequately adjudicate an issue under the Plan. The procedures adopted under a viable collective bargaining agreement need not parallel procedures uncovered by such an agreement. Because the difference in procedures is not a difference in rights, plaintiff's argument must fail.
Therefore, the issue before us being res judicata, we find that plaintiff is barred from adjudicating the issue presented and is bound by the determination of the arbitrator.