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United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC v. North Star Steel Co.

filed: September 14, 1993; As Corrected October 4, 1993.

UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO-CLC,
v.
NORTH STAR STEEL COMPANY, INC. NORTH STAR STEEL COMPANY, INC. APPELLANT IN NO. 93-7026 UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO-CLC APPELLANT IN NO. 93-7056



Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. D.C. No. 91-CV-1179.

Before: Scirica, Cowen and Seitz, Circuit Judges.

Author: Seitz

Opinion OF THE COURT

SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

United Steelworkers of America ("plaintiff") brought this action against North Star Steel Company, Inc. ("defendant") alleging violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act ("WARN"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2109. The district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. See also 29 U.S.C. § 2104(a)(5). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 over this appeal and cross-appeal from a final judgment of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is the exclusive bargaining representative for production and maintenance workers at defendant's plant in Milton, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff brought this action alleging that defendant laid off employees at the Milton plant without providing prior notice as required by WARN. See 29 U.S.C. § 2102(a). The district court first granted summary judgment for plaintiff as to defendant's liability after concluding that the layoff was in violation of WARN's requirements. Defendant does not contest its liability on appeal.*fn1

Subsequently, the district court also granted summary judgment for plaintiff as to the number of days for which defendant is required to pay damages.*fn2 On this appeal, defendant argues that the district court erred in interpreting Section 2104(a)(1)(A) of WARN to require that defendant pay damages to each aggrieved employee for each day of the violation period--whether or not that day would have been a regular workday for that employee. Plaintiff understandably contends that the district court properly interpreted Section 2104(a)(1)(A). We turn to a review of this argument. Our review is plenary. See Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748, 97 S. Ct. 732 (1977).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Interpretation of Section 2104(a)(1)(A)

The sole issue appealed by defendant is the number of days for which it must pay damages to its aggrieved employees under Section 2104(a)(1)(A) of WARN. The district court interpreted that section to require that defendant pay damages for each calendar day within the violation period.*fn3 Defendant argues that Section 2104(a)(1)(A) does not require it to pay damages to an aggrieved employee for any day within the violation period that would not have been a regular workday for that employee. To our knowledge, this interpretive issue has not yet been decided by any federal court of appeals.*fn4

The Supreme Court has stated that "the task of resolving the dispute over the meaning of [a statute] . . . must begin with the language of the statute itself." United States v. Ron Pair Enters., Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 241, 109 S. Ct. 1026, 103 L. Ed. 2d 290 (1989). Section 2104(a)(1) states, in pertinent part:

(1) Any employer who orders a plant closing or mass layoff in violation of [WARN] shall be liable to each aggrieved employee who suffers an employment loss as ...


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