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UMW, DIST. 5 v. U.S. STEEL MINING CO.

November 6, 1984

UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, DISTRICT 5, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. STEEL MINING CO., INC., a subsidiary of United States Steel Corporation, Defendant


Cohill, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

Plaintiff, United Mine Workers of America, District 5 (the "Union") brought this action against the Defendant, U.S. Steel Mining Co. ("USS") under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq., § 185 to vacate an arbitrator's decision. This matter is presently before us on Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

 USS and the Union are parties to a collective bargaining agreement, the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1981 (the "Agreement"). The agreement contains a grievance procedure providing for arbitration of disputes as to the meaning or application of provisions of the Agreement. See Agreement, Art. XXIII(c).

 Procedural History

 The grievance procedure initiated in this case concerned the discharge by USS of one of its employees, Regis Bell, for allegedly falsely reporting a threat against his life in violation of Mine and Shop Conduct Rules.

 On April 21, 1983, USS suspended Bell with intent to discharge. On April 25, 1983, a "24-48" hour meeting was held, as provided by Article XXIV, section (b) of the Agreement. This provision grants a suspended employee the right to meet with the mine superintendent or management. The same day, a written grievance was filed by the Union.

 When the dispute was not resolved the Union elected, on April 28, 1983, to proceed to "Immediate Arbitration" as provided by Article XXIV of the Agreement. Arbitrator's Report, at 5. A hearing was held on May 11, 1983, at which both sides presented testimony and evidence. No court reporter was present, but both sides tape-recorded the hearing. The record was closed at the conclusion of the hearing. Id. at 1. On May 16, the Arbitrator orally notified the parties that the Company had just cause to discharge Mr. Bell, id., and on May 20, issued a written decision and award. The Arbitrator concluded, after consideration of expert and other testimony, that Mr. Bell was the author of the note, and that Mr. Bell's conduct constituted just cause for discharge. Id. at 6-8.

 Plaintiff alleges, in its complaint, three reasons why the arbitrator's award should be vacated: 1) that the Arbitrator, contrary to strict contractual provisions of Article XXIII of the Agreement, failed to take a transcript or record the proceedings; 2) that the Arbitrator, in his award, went beyond the scope of the reasons given by defendant in support of its decision to discharge and supplied reasons not relied upon by the Defendant; and 3) that while the Arbitrator admitted evidence on behalf of the Defendant, he refused to permit Plaintiff the opportunity to offer exculpatory evidence which would have tended to discredit such testimony. Complaint, para. 8. The parties have not disputed the facts, and we find, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, that Defendant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.

 Standard of Review

 It is well settled that the scope of review of an arbitration decision is extremely limited, and that an award is considered legitimate if it "draws its essence from the contract." United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 1361, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960). Whether an award "draws its essence" from the agreement in question has been defined as whether

 
the interpretation can in any rational way be derived from the agreement, viewed in the light of its language, its context, and, other indicia of the parties' intention; only where there is 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.

 Johnson Bronze Co. v. International Union of United Auto Workers, 621 F.2d 81, 82 (3d Cir. 1980)(quoting Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3d Cir. 1969)). The reason for this limited scope lies in the fact that the parties bargained for resolution by arbitration. Kobielnik v. Union Carbide Corp., 532 F. Fupp. 28, 30 (E.D. Pa. 1981). Refusal to review the merits of an arbitration award is the proper approach to arbitration under collective bargaining agreements. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Local No. 111 v. Dee Ville Blouse Co., Inc., 486 F. Supp. 1253, 1254-55 (E.D. Pa. 1980) (citing United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 596-99, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 1360-62, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960)). Finally, contractual interpretations made in the course of labor arbitrations must not be disturbed so long as they are not in manifest disregard of the law. The question of whether or not an arbitrator misconstrued the contract does not open an award to judicial review. See Sun Petroleum Products, Co. v. Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers Int'l Union, 681 F.2d 924, 927-29 (3d Cir. 1982).

 Failure to Transcribe Proceedings

 Article XXIV of the Agreement, entitled "Discharge Procedure," ...


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