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FEDERATION OF WESTINGHOUSE INDEP. SALARIED UNIONS

December 5, 1984

FEDERATION OF WESTINGHOUSE INDEPENDENT SALARIED UNIONS and The Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees, Plaintiffs,
v.
WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORPORATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TEITELBAUM

 TEITELBAUM, Chief Judge.

 The Federation of Westinghouse Independent Salaried Unions (Federation) and its local affiliate, the Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees (AWSE), (collectively unions) brought this action against Westinghouse Electric Corp. (Westinghouse) under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, alleging a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The unions contend Westinghouse violated the collective bargaining agreement by failing to provide salary increases to employees whose positions were reclassified. Westinghouse moves for summary judgment contending this action is barred by the statute of limitations. For the reasons set forth below the motion will be denied.

 Following an August 1, 1982 job reclassification, AWSE filed grievances at the local level on behalf of six employees whose jobs had been reclassified contesting Westinghouse's failure to provide salary increases (first set of grievances). On March 23, 1983 the first set of grievances was filed as Federation grievances at the national level. On May 20, 1983 Westinghouse denied the first set of grievances and on May 24, 1983 the Federation notified Westinghouse that Westinghouse's answer to the first set of grievances was unsatisfactory. On June 13, 1983 the Federation requested arbitration of the first set of grievances and on June 14, 1983 Westinghouse refused to agree to arbitration.

 According to the unions, on April 20, 1983 the Federation met with Westinghouse to discuss the first set of grievances and Westinghouse suggested that the grievances be referred back to local management to attempt to slowly phase in salary increases due the reclassified employees.

 On May 23, 1983 AWSE filed a second set of grievances at the local level on behalf of the six employees named in the first set of grievances plus an additional four employees whose jobs had also been reclassified (second set of grievances).

 On September 8, 1983 grievances on behalf of seven of these employees, including three employees named in the first set of grievances and the four employees added in the second set, were filed at the national level. On November 11, 1983 Westinghouse reiterated its prior position and denied the second set of grievances and on November 16, 1983 the Federation notified Westinghouse that Westinghouse's answer to the second set of grievances was unsatisfactory. On December 7, 1983 the Federation requested arbitration of the second set of grievances and on December 13, 1983 Westinghouse refused to agree to arbitration.

 The present action was filed June 12, 1984.

 The unions contend the action was timely filed within six months of December 13, 1984. The unions contend the statute of limitations starts to run when the grievance and arbitration procedure provided in the collective bargaining agreement is fully exhausted.

 The unions further contend Westinghouse is estopped from raising the statute of limitations because of its representation at the April 20, 1983 meeting. The unions further contend this representation raises a factual issue as to when the unions knew or should have known of Westinghouse's breach of the collective bargaining agreement.

 Westinghouse contends the action was not timely filed within six months of the last possible point of reference, November 16, 1983. Westinghouse contends the statute of limitations starts to run when the grievance procedure provided in the collective bargaining agreement is fully exhausted and that a demand for voluntary arbitration does not affect this.

 Westinghouse contends the first set of grievances is the point of reference. Westinghouse contends the second set of grievances is merely a repeat of the first set or, at most, a request for reconsideration which does not affect the statute of limitations. Westinghouse contends the four employees named only in the second set of grievances were affected by the reclassification in the same manner as the employees named in the first set and were therefore bound by the disposition of the first set. Westinghouse contends these four employees should not be able to avoid the bar of the statute of limitations because of the unions' failure to name all affected employees in the first set of grievances. Using the first set of grievances as the reference point, Westinghouse contends the statute of limitations started to run May 24, 1983 when the grievance procedure was fully exhausted.

 However, even if the second set of grievances is used as the reference point, Westinghouse contends the statute of limitations started to run November 16, 1983 when ...


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