Article 10.05 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
At oral argument on the instant motion, held on February 9 and 12, 1987, and in their brief, Bell of Pennsylvania contended that the Union's grievances which are the subject of this lawsuit were all initially directed at conduct of Atlanticom, not of Bell of Pennsylvania; and that the grievances were only portrayed as describing violations by Bell of Pennsylvania after the Union was enjoined from arbitrating against Atlanticom by the earlier lawsuit. The Union vigorously contested this characterization of the grievances by Bell of Pennsylvania, asserting that the grievances were originally asserted against Atlanticom, Bell of Pennsylvania and the parent company, Bell Atlantic. Bell of Pennsylvania further argued that the grieving of these same complaints against Bell of Pennsylvania constitutes in essence an entirely new grievance, and that the grievance procedure outlined in Article 10 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement does not permit such an amendment of the grievance at the arbitration stage of the procedure. In other words, Bell of Pennsylvania takes the position that, because the Union grievances allegedly did not assert from the beginning that Bell of Pennsylvania had violated the Agreement, then its arbitration of those grievances must fail and may be enjoined.
I disagree. Under the law cited above, I am required to look to the nature of the grievances at issue. If the particular grievances on their face make a claim which is governed by the contract, then arbitration is proper. Furthermore, the nature of preliminary injunctive relief and the presumption of arbitrability requires the movant here to bear a very heavy burden to establish its entitlement to the relief requested. Under the law and the facts presented by this case, I conclude, at least at this stage of the proceeding, based on the evidence now before me, that the Union should not be preliminarily enjoined from proceeding to arbitration.
While the grievances as originally described in large measure state violations attributed to Atlanticom, they also state on their face and by direct implication a significant number of claims against Bell of Pennsylvania. The Union further argues that Bell of Pennsylvania's interpretation of the grievances as stating claims against Atlanticom alone is both too narrow, and not a determination for the court. Because the Arbitration Cases can reasonably be read to state claims against Bell of Pennsylvania, the Union is entitled to arbitrate those grievances.
Furthermore, the infirmity attributed to the grievances by Bell of Pennsylvania, resulting from the alleged eleventh hour amendment by the Union, is a matter for the arbitrators to determine. If the Union did not comply with the time limits contained in Article 10 of the Agreement in stating grievances against Bell of Pennsylvania, then they will not prevail on their claims. But whether or not the original claims, seen in light of the history of arbitration between Bell of Pennsylvania and the Union and the meaning of the agreement, were timely filed and in fact broad enough to provide a basis for relief are not issues for the court. Those questions quite clearly go to the interpretation of the grievance procedure contained in the Agreement and of the grievances themselves on their merits, a task properly for the arbitrators.
Ultimately, Bell of Pennsylvania appears to be arguing that the Union's claims against it are either procedurally improper under the terms of the Agreement, or frivolous. Unfortunately for Bell, the court is not permitted to draw either of these conclusions. While the court has previously concluded that Bell of Pennsylvania and Atlanticom are separate entities for purposes of labor relations, it did not then and cannot now determine Bell of Pennsylvania's obligations to its Union employees under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Such matters, at least in the first instance, are for grievance and arbitration under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
IV. Relief Sought: Preliminary Injunction
In considering a motion for a preliminary injunction, a court must consider four factors: (1) whether the movant has shown a reasonable probability of success on the merits; (2) whether the movant will be irreparably harmed by the denial of the preliminary injunction; (3) whether granting the preliminary injunction will result in even greater harm to the non-moving party; and (4) whether granting preliminary relief will be in the public interest. S.I. Handling Systems, Inc. v. Heisley, 753 F.2d 1244, 1254 (3d Cir. 1985). Bell of Pennsylvania has failed to establish a reasonable probability of success on the merits. For that reason, its motion fails.
An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this 13th day of February, 1987, it is hereby Ordered that plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction is DENIED.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
Clarence C. Newcomer, J.