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WILKES-BARRE PUBL. CO. v. NEWSPAPER GUILD OF WILKE
December 14, 1982
WILKES-BARRE PUBLISHING CO., Plaintiff,
NEWSPAPER GUILD OF WILKES-BARRE, LOCAL 120, et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEALON
Pursuant to an Order of a Third Circuit panel dated April 1, 1981, this action was stayed pending arbitration of the plaintiff-company's grievance against the defendant-union. See Wilkes-Barre Publ. Co. v. Newspaper Guild of Wilkes-Barre, Local 120, 647 F.2d 372 (3d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1143, 102 S. Ct. 1003, 71 L. Ed. 2d 295 (1982). The arbitration proceeded until May 11, 1982, when the arbitrator issued six subpoenas duces tecum directing the company and a number of its agents to produce various documents at the next hearing. The Company refused to comply, and the Union instituted the present motion to enforce the subpoenas in this court.
The Union argues that this court derives its authority to enforce the subpoenas "not only from the general powers granted by Section 301 [of the Labor-Management Relations Act], but also from Section 7 of the U.S. Arbitration Act . . . and from the Pennsylvania Uniform Arbitration Act." The Company, on the other hand, contends that absent a pertinent contractual provision, labor arbitrators possess no power to issue legally-enforceable subpoenas. It argues that neither the federal nor the state arbitration statute applies to this case and that there is no common-law authority to support the issuance of a subpoena by an arbitrator. In addition, the Company asserts that even if arbitrators possess power to issue binding subpoenas, those issued in the present case are unenforceable because they are overbroad and request privileged information.
For the reasons set forth below, the court holds that labor arbitrators possess the power to issue enforceable subpoenas duces tecum. The court finds, however, that the motion to enforce the subpoenas must be denied in the present case until the arbitrator is given the opportunity to rule on the company's objections.
[The Arbitrator:] . . . Now, from what has been said here today, I think there is going to be some issue involved as to whether or not the company is going to honor these subpoenas.
[The Company:] I do not think there is any question about that Mr. Arbitrator. And let me say that I really do not like to be in the position of having to go into that.
[The Arbitrator:] I generally sign the subpoenas when somebody asks for them, and then if you do not like it you fight it in court. And I guess that is the route that we will have to follow, if that is satisfactory.
[The Company:] Well, I do not know that is . . . I am going to have to look at the Pennsylvania law on this. I looked at it once but it has been a while; that if you sign it there is automatically a presumption that you have determined that it is relevant and that you have determined that it is necessary for a hearing.
[The Union:] It is my understanding that we are entitled to have a subpoena issued for anything we want; that the employer is entitled . . . to file with the court a motion to quash the subpoena. Or . . . the employer can do nothing . . . and then force us to go into court to have the subpoena enforced.
[The Company:] Well, we appreciate the law according to [the Union], but we intend to look at it ourselves . . . so long as it is understood and clear on the record that you are making no evaluation as to the propriety of the ...
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