The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER
This matter is before the court on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.
The plaintiff is a union and alleges that the defendant was a party to a collective bargaining agreement known as the "National Master Freight Agreement and Eastern Conference Iron and Steel Rider and Teamsters Joint Council No. 40 Supplement". ("National Agreement", or "Agreement"). This Agreement covered the period April 1, 1979 to March 31, 1982. The defendant denies being a party to the Agreement and accordingly has refused to pay to plaintiff's members certain sick leave pay accrued before March 31, 1982. The plaintiff presented a grievance on May 12, 1982 because of this refusal and prevailed before the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employees Joint Area Committee Steel Sub-Committee. The defendant failed to attend this arbitration. Following the defendant's failure to comply with the decision of the Joint Grievance Committee, the plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction in this court. An evidentiary hearing was held on September 24, 1982 to hear testimony concerning plaintiff's allegation that defendant was a party to the collective bargaining agreement. The need for the preliminary injunction sought by the plaintiff was removed through a stipulation of counsel entered into on the record at the evidentiary hearing that an escrow account would be established to cover the amount of the claimed sick pay.
The court is asked by virtue of plaintiff's supplemental complaint filed September 24, 1982 to enforce the May 13, 1982 and June 10, 1982 decisions of the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employees Joint Area Committee Steel Sub-Committee and order the defendant to comply in the payment of sick days pay up to March 31, 1982 to all effected employees.
The issue before the court is whether defendant's status vis a vis the collective bargaining agreement can be decided as a matter of law on the basis of undisputed facts. The facts are deduced from the evidentiary hearing and the supporting material provided by counsel.
The plaintiff, Teamsters Steelhaulers Local Union No. 800, is part of the Eastern Conference and is the recognized bargaining agent for Truckers at the defendant's company. The defendant, Artim Transportation System, Inc. is a member of the National Steel Carrier's Association and, in fact, is represented in this matter by the managing director and counsel of the National Association.
At the outset, there is no writing which would show the plaintiff and defendant as signatories to a collective bargaining agreement. Given the nature of modern labor relations and the wide use of industry wide master agreements, we do not find the absence of a written contract between the parties to be particularly fatal to plaintiff's claim. The court does note, however, that the agreements appear to contemplate the attachment of the signatures of the local unions and their respective employers.
Defendant, however, denies the existence of an agreement with the plaintiff. The defendant maintains, through the supporting affidavit of its counsel, first, that the defendant never engaged in collective bargaining with the plaintiff; second, that the defendant is not a party to and never executed the "National Motor (sic) Freight Agreement"; and third, that the defendant is not bound by the Agreement. We note that in framing its response the defendant has sedulously avoided a discussion of the relationship it enjoys with the National Steel Carriers' Association and the legal consequences of that relationship in light of the National Association's accord with the Teamsters and Eastern Conference by virtue of the National Master Freight Agreement. Accordingly, the court could accept defendant's first and second contentions yet reject the third and find as a matter of law that the defendant is bound by the Agreement. We feel that based on the record and the undisputed facts set forth below such a finding is appropriate. The plaintiff is entitled to judgment in its favor as a matter of law.
The record convincingly reveals that the National Master Freight Agreement guided the relationship between these parties. The plaintiff has proffered numerous exhibits which indicate that the grievance procedure of the National Master Freight Agreement was employed by the parties and honored by the defendant in the processing of grievances. Other evidence indicates that the defendant used the terms of the Agreement to assure the prompt return to work of laid-off employees. Additional evidence indicates that the Agreement was frequently referenced by company officials in guiding their handling of a variety of grievances as well as cargo damage claims where they invoked specific provisions of the Agreement.
The provisions of the National Master Freight Agreement which the plaintiff relies upon for the payment of sick pay is Article 38, Section 1, which provides in relevant part:
Sick leave not used by March 31 of any contract year will be paid on March 31 at the applicable hourly rate in existence on that date. Each day of sick leave will be paid for on the basis of eight (8) hours straight time pay at the applicable hourly rate.
(Article 38, section 1, page 88 of the National Master Freight Agreement and Eastern Conference Area Iron and Steel Rider For the Period April 1, 1979 to March 31, 1982.)
The evidence reveals that the defendant paid employees for unused sick days in accordance with the Agreement for the contract years 1979-80, 1980-81 but discontinued the practice for the contract ...