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Utility Workers Union of America v. Dominion Transmission

September 27, 2006

UTILITY WORKERS UNION OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, UNITED GAS WORKERS UNION, LOCAL 69, DIVISION 2, AN UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATION, BY BRYAN E. ASH, ITS TRUSTEE AD LITEM, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOMINION TRANSMISSION, INC., A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert C. Mitchell United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, United Gas Workers Union, Local 69, Division 2, an unincorporated association, by its trustee ad litem, Bryan E. Ash ("the Union"), brings this action under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), to confirm an arbitration award issued on May 18, 2006 in favor of a Union member and against Defendant, Dominion Transmission, Inc. ("DTI").

Presently before this Court for disposition is a motion to dismiss or stay this action, brought by the Defendant. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

The Union represents some of DTI's employees for collective bargaining purposes. (Compl. ¶ 3.) The Union and DTI are parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") entered into and effective April 1, 2005 and due to expire April 1, 2008. (Compl. ¶ 5 & Ex. A.) The CBA contains a grievance procedure which provides for a system of meetings to resolve grievances and failing such resolution, it provides for final and binding arbitration of all grievances. (Compl. ¶ 6.)

On August 25, 2005, DTI discharged an employee named Vernon Stewart, Jr., who had been employed as a Compressor Station Operator in Indiana County. The Union contended that the discharge of Stewart was not for "just cause" and as such, was not permitted under the CBA. It filed a timely written grievance with DTI over Stewart's discharge pursuant to the CBA, seeking his reinstatement and payment of all wages and fringe benefits lost as a result thereof. (Compl. ¶¶ 7-13.)

On February 14, 2006, the arbitrator mutually selected by the parties held a hearing in Bridgeport, West Virginia. On May 18, 2006, the arbitrator rendered a decision, sustaining the grievance and ordering DTI to reinstate Stewart and pay him of all wages and fringe benefits lost as a result of his discharge. (Compl. ¶ 15 & Ex. B.)

Procedural History

The Union filed this action on May 25, 2006 seeking to confirm the arbitrator's award. On July 20, 2006, DTI filed an action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia seeking to vacate the arbitrator's award ("the West Virginia action"). On that same date, DTI filed a motion to dismiss or stay this case (Docket No. 6).

Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) must be viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiff and all well-pleaded allegations of the complaint must be accepted as true. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319 (1989); Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). The motion cannot be granted unless the court is satisfied "that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73 (1984). See also National Org. for Women, Inc. v. Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249 (1994). The issue is not whether the plaintiff will prevail at the end but only whether he should be entitled to offer evidence to support his claim. Williams, 490 U.S. at 323; Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974). The Court of Appeals has stated that:

To decide a motion to dismiss, courts generally consider only the allegations contained in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint and matters of public record.... [In addition,] a court may consider an undisputedly authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to a motion to dismiss if the plaintiff's claims are based on the document.

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. White Consolidated Indus., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993) (citations omitted). Thus, the CBA, which is attached to the Complaint, may be considered without converting the motion into a motion for summary judgment.

DTI argues that, because the issue to be decided in the West Virginia case (whether the arbitration award should be vacated) should necessarily be decided before the issue in this case (whether the award should be confirmed and enforced), the Court should dismiss this action and direct the Union to seek confirmation of the arbitration award as part of its response to the West Virginia action. In the ...


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