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BELL TEL. CO. v. COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS

February 13, 1987

THE BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, DISTRICT 13 et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER

 Newcomer, J.

 In this case, Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania ("Bell of Pennsylvania"), a subsidiary of Bell Atlantic Corp., seeks to have the court enjoin the Communications Workers of America ("CWA" or the Union), formerly the Federation of Telephone Workers of Pennsylvania, from arbitrating with Bell of Pennsylvania certain grievances arising from the conduct of Bell Atlanticom Systems, Inc. ("Atlanticom"), another subsidiary of Bell Atlantic. The Union disputes Bell of Pennsylvania's characterization of the grievances at issue as encompassing only conduct of Atlanticom. Rather, the Union asserts that the grievances are directed at conduct of Bell of Pennsylvania as well. For the reasons discussed below, Bell of Pennsylvania's motion for a preliminary injunction will be denied. *fn1"

 I. Relevant History

 This case was assigned to my calendar as related to Bell Atlanticom Systems, Inc. v. Federation of Telephone Workers of Pennsylvania et al., C.A. 84-6342. In that case, Atlanticom sought a determination that it was not bound to arbitrate grievances arising from the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and Bell of Pennsylvania. Bell of Pennsylvania and the Union had adopted a Memorandum of Agreement in June 1982, which bound Bell of Pennsylvania to "secure, as a condition of any sale or other voluntary transfer of ownership of all or part of its business and physical assets, the assent of any successor organization that the collective bargaining agreement between it and [the Union] shall continue in effect and bind the successor organization." In a Memorandum and Order dated April 21, 1986, I ruled that the agreement between the Union and Bell of Pennsylvania did not bind Atlanticom or its employees, but rather that Atlanticom was a separate entity for purposes of labor law. I also found that Atlanticom was not a "successor organization" as that term was intended in the Memorandum of Agreement, because there was no transfer of business, physical assets or employees from Bell of Pennsylvania to Atlanticom. As a result I permanently enjoined certain arbitration proceedings brought against Atlanticom by the Union. That decision was not appealed.

 II. Facts

 In the instant action, Bell of Pennsylvania seeks to enjoin the processing of five arbitration cases brought by the Union against Bell of Pennsylvania. According to Bell of Pennsylvania, the arbitration cases at issue involve Union objections to actions of Atlanticom, not Bell of Pennsylvania. "The Union is attempting to hold Bell [of Pennsylvania] liable for the actions of an independent Company, Atlanticom, which is not a party to the Bell/Union labor Agreement[,] on the basis that Atlanticom and Bell [of Pennsylvania] are a single entity." Bell of Pennsylvania has objected to the continuing arbitration of these five disputes, but the Union is pursuing them.

 In its Memorandum of Law opposing the motion for the preliminary injunction, the Union makes several points. First, the Union makes clear that it is not seeking to arbitrate grievances against Atlanticom, but rather only against Bell of Pennsylvania. Second, and more to the heart of the matter, the Union asserts that Bell of Pennsylvania is actually seeking a determination of the merits of the grievances by the court.

 Exhibit I to Bell of Pennsylvania's verified complaint is the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Bell of Pennsylvania and the Union. Article 13 of the Agreement allows for the arbitration of matters permitted under the Agreement. Article 10 governs the manner and timing of the submission of disputes arising under the contract to the grievance procedure, and ultimately to arbitration if necessary. In particular, section 10.05 provides as follows:

 
If, at any time, a controversy should arise between the Union and the Company regarding the true intent and meaning of any provision of this Agreement or regarding any claim that either party has not performed a commitment of this Agreement, the controversy may be presented for review under [the grievance procedure]. If the controversy is processed . . . and is not satisfactorily settled, the Union or the Company, by written notice specifying the Section of the Agreement alleged to be violated, may submit the question under dispute to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of Article 13 of this Agreement.

 Bell of Pennsylvania has attached to its Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction the affidavit of James R. Hoy, Division Staff Manager - Arbitration and Labor Relations for Bell of Pennsylvania. The Hoy affidavit describes and is followed by Exhibits A through P. The affidavit and the exhibits detail the grievances which the Union seeks to arbitrate against Bell of Pennsylvania. The exhibits consist largely of letters, addressed to Bell of Pennsylvania's Division Manager for Labor Relations, which describe the nature of the grievances asserted by the Union. For example, Exhibit A at para. 2 describes a grievance contained in Arbitration Case Number 14 30 0117-85 J, as follows:

 
#13-8439B Bell Atlantic Mailing Out Sets - Violation of U.P.S. Arbitration Award : Bell Atlantic is in violation of the U.P.S. Arbitration Award. Mrs. Renoldi from the Business Office is referring customers to Bell Atlanticom. The Company is in violation of the U.P.S. Award. Last discussed with G. Roberts on October 15, 1984.

 On its face, this grievance and many others appear to state a violation by both Bell Atlanticom and the Company, which refers to Bell of Pennsylvania. This description is typical of the 21 grievances presented by the five ...


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