On Application for Enforcement of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board NLRB Docket No. 6-CA-22290.
Before: Sloviter, Chief Judge, Greenberg, Circuit Judge, and Pollak, District Judge*fn* .
The National Labor Relations Board (Board) petitions this court for enforcement of its decision and order of January 15, 1992, finding that respondents, Joy Technologies, Inc. (Employer) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 1842 of District Lodge No. 83, AFL-CIO (Union), engaged in unfair labor practices in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by maintaining and enforcing an unlawful superseniority clause in their collective bargaining agreement.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Employer, a manufacturer and seller of coal mining equipment, operates three plants in Pennsylvania, two of which (Plant 1 and Plant 2) are relevant to this case. Prior to any of the actions relevant to this proceeding, Plant 1 had three General Repair Person (GRP) positions divided between 2 shifts; Plant 2 had one GRP position and only one shift. Employee Randy Beightol was a GRP in Plant 1 before he was laid off and placed in a lower-grade classification as a Cleaning Service Person (CSP) in Plant 2. He also served in Plant 2 as the sole union committeeperson, the elected union representative responsible for administering the collective bargaining agreement, including the handling of grievances.
In the fall of 1989, the retirement of an employee who was a GRP from Plant 1 set in motion a series of personnel shifts which left a vacant GRP position in Plant 1, shift 2. After no current employee bid on the vacant GRP position in Plant 1, the Employer announced its intention to recall Beightol, who was next in line in terms of natural seniority, from his position as a CSP in Plant 2 to the vacant GRP position. Under the applicable provision of the collective bargaining agreement Beightol was required to return to his former classification when it became available.*fn1 By this time, Beightol had been serving as the union committeeperson in Plant 2 for approximately three years. His service in that capacity was site specific so that if he had assumed the vacant GRP position in Plant 1, he would have lost his ability to function as the union committeeperson for Plant 2. As the union committeeperson in Plant 2, Beightol was covered by the superseniority provision in section 103 of the collective bargaining agreement granting superseniority to stewards and committeepersons except in certain specified instances. Specifically, section 103 provided that:
The Union Department Stewards and the Shop Committee shall head the Seniority List when certified by the Union to the Company. . . . When an entire shift in a department is not working, Steward super-seniority on that shift in that department immediately ceases. If and when the Steward's shift would start, the Steward's super-seniority becomes effective. . . . The above defined seniority will not apply for the purposes of shift preference, job bidding, machine tool preference, overtime entitlement or scheduling of vacations. When a Committeeman or Steward is certified to represent employees on all or any of the shifts such Steward or Committeeman cannot be displaced by other employees for any reason when certified or where he may have moved by his election to exercise his Company seniority as provided in Item 75 hereof.
App. at 172 (emphasis added).
In light of this superseniority provision, the Union asserted that Beightol was entitled to remain at Plant 2 and displace Bill Knox, the employee who was the sole GRP at Plant 2. The Employer eventually acquiesced in the Union's demand, but it also simultaneously gave Knox a "temporary" GRP position in Plant 2 so that he was not disadvantaged. Shortly thereafter, the Employer announced a shift realignment and transferred one of the GRP positions from Plant 1 to Plant 2. Knox bid on and was awarded this second GRP position in Plant 2.
Walter Burgard, a GRP at Plant 1, filed a grievance contesting the assignment of Beightol to a GRP position in Plant 2, instead of to the initially vacated position in Plant 1, shift 2. His complaint was that as a result of this use of superseniority, his natural seniority was adversely affected, ultimately resulting in his being bumped from shift 1 to shift 2 for a six-week period and being vulnerable to other consequences. The Employer's position was sustained throughout the grievance process.
Burgard filed unfair labor practice charges with the Board against the Union and the Employer, leading to the issuance of unfair labor practice complaints against both parties. The complaints were directed to both the maintenance of an overly broad and unlawful superseniority clause in the collective bargaining agreement, and its application in this instance.*fn2 The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) dismissed the complaints on all counts. He found that the listed exceptions in the superseniority clause ...