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United Steelworkers of America v. Adbill Management Corp.

February 7, 1985

UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, DISTRICT 36, LOCAL 8249, APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE
v.
ADBILL MANAGEMENT CORP., D/B/A LIMETREE BEACH HOTEL, A CORP., APPELLEE/CROSS-APPELLANT



Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands, Division of Saint Croix, D.C. Civ. No. 82-260.

Author: Seitz

Before SEITZ, GIBBONS, and SLOVITER, Circuit Judges.

Opinion OF THE COURT

SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

Local 8249 of the United Steelworkers of America ("Union") and the Adbill Management Corporation, doing business as the Limetree Beach Hotel ("Hotel"), each appeal from an order of the district court directing further arbitration in this labor dispute. The hotel also appeals from that portion of the district court's order which dismissed with prejudice its motion to vacate the original arbitration award. Subject matter jurisdiction exists pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 185 and 28 U.S.C. § 1337. This court has appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

I. BACKGROUND

The present dispute centers around the discharge of nine members of the Hotel's housekeeping staff. The nine maids were discharged in January of 1982 for violating a work rule which prohibited employees from carrying handbags when working in the guest areas of the hotel.

The Union represents the bargaining unit of Hotel employees that includes the nine discharged maids. The Hotel and the Union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement that became effective on August 1, 1980, and remained in force throughout the relevant period. The Union, contending that the discharges were without cause, filed grievances on behalf of the nine maids. When the parties were unable to resolve the grievances, the matter was submitted to arbitration pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

The arbitrator rendered his decision on July 13, 1982. Although the arbitrator found that the maids were "clearly at fault . . . because of the defiant and insubordinate nature of their behavior," App. at 19, he concluded that in view of certain mitigating circumstances, discharge was too harsh a sanction for the maids' misconduct. He therefore modified the discharges, treating them as suspensions without pay until the date that arbitration award was received. The Hotel was ordered to "reinstate all of the grievants to their former employment, but without back pay." App. at 21.

Upon receipt of the arbitral award, the Hotel notified the Union that the nine maids would be reinstated to the payroll as of August 3, 1982. The Hotel went on to state, however, that because of low occupancy and a concomitant reduction in work hours, the maids would be placed on indefinite layoffs and would be returned to actual duty when hotel occupancy demanded.

In October of 1982, the Union filed a complaint in the district court, requesting court enforcement of the arbitration award. The Union also sought damages for the Hotel's alleged failure to comply with the award. The Hotel counterclaimed, seeking to vacate the award on the ground that the arbitrator had acted beyond the scope of his authority. Each party moved for summary judgment as to both the complaint and the counterclaim.

The district court granted the Union's motion for summary judgment as to the counterclaim, holding that the arbitrator had not exceeded the bounds of his contractual authority. The district court then remanded the case to the arbitrator to resolve the parties' dispute regarding reinstatement of the maids. Specifically, the arbitrator was directed to determine whether the Hotel did, in fact, reinstate the nine maids and whether, in simultaneously laying off the maids, it had acted in good faith to comply with the arbitrator's decision. By remanding the case, the district court effectively denied both parties' motions for summary judgment on the complaint. The district court judge originally retained jurisdiction pending the arbitrator's report, but later amended his order deleting the retention of jurisdiction so that his decision became final and appealable.*fn1 These appeals followed.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Enforceability of the ...


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