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Giant Eagle, Inc v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union

November 26, 2012

GIANT EAGLE, INC.,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED FOOD & COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL 23,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED MEMORANDUM OPINION RE. CROSS- MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

(DOC. NOS. 23 and 25)

I.Introduction

This case centers around a grievance filed against Plaintiff Giant Eagle, Inc. ("Giant Eagle") by Defendant United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 23 ("Local 23" or "Union"). Local 23 filed a grievance against Giant Eagle because of raises that were given to certain employees that the Union contends were done in violation of the parties' Collective Bargaining Agreement. On July 13, 2012, Giant Eagle filed a Complaint in this Court seeking a stay of a July 4, 2012 Arbitration Award which ordered Giant Eagle to rescind raises that had been given to employees. Doc. No. 1. Local 23 filed an Answer and Counterclaim seeking enforcement of the Arbitration Award. Doc. No. 12.

Presently before this Court are the parties' Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. Doc. Nos. 23 and 25. Plaintiff Giant Eagle moves, in its Motion for Summary Judgment, the Court to vacate the Arbitration Award. Doc. No. 23. Defendant Local 23 moves, in its Motion for Summary Judgment, that the Arbitrator's Award be enforced. Doc. No. 25. After careful consideration of the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment, briefs in support thereof, statements of material facts, and response and reply briefs (doc. nos. 22-28, 31-32): Giant Eagle's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 23) will be DENIED; Local 23's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 25) will be GRANTED; and the Arbitrator's Award will be ENFORCED.

II.Facts

There are no disputed genuine issues of material fact in this case. This Opinion is based upon review of the parties' Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Arbitrator's Award. Doc. Nos. 22-1, 22-2.

Giant Eagle is supermarket chain which has stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. Doc. No. 27, ¶ 1. Local 23 is the collective bargaining representative for certain units of Giant Eagle employees in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Id. at ¶ 2. Giant Eagle and Local 23 entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement for employees of the Edinboro, Pennsylvania store ("the Agreement") which was in effect, per its terms, from August 3, 2008, through August 7, 2011. Doc. Nos. 22-2, Doc. No. 27, ¶ 8.

In early 2011, Giant Eagle gave wage increases and higher starting wages to twenty-five (25) employees of the Edinboro store. Doc. No. 27, ¶ 10. Local 23 was not notified of these wage increases prior to their implementation. Doc. Nos. 22, ¶ 17 and 27, ¶ 13. On March 8, 2011, Cheryl Lawson, on behalf of the full-time clerks at the Edinboro Giant Eagle, filed a grievance over these wage increases. Doc. No. 27, ¶ 11. The grievance was that the "company failed to notify Union in regards to granting higher rates of pay for less senior members." Doc. No. 12-2.

An Arbitration hearing was held on March 30, 2012. Doc. Nos. 22-1, 3 and 27, ¶ 15. The Arbitrator issued an Opinion and Award upholding Local 23's grievance. Doc. No. 22-1.

The Arbitrator directed Giant Eagle to stop issuing raises "without first obtaining concurrence from the Union," and to rescind those increases already given. Id. at 21. The Arbitrator found that it was not appropriate for Giant Eagle to give other employees an increase to remedy this grievance. Id.

The Court has jurisdiction to resolve this dispute pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Relations Management Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. §§ 10 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1337. Doc. No. 27, ¶ 5.

III.Standard of Review

Vacatur of an arbitration award is governed by the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C. §§ 1-16. Generally, the FAA, "requires courts to enforce privately negotiated agreements to arbitrate, like other contracts, in accordance with their terms." Verve Communications Pvt. Ltd. v. Software Int'l, Inc., 2011 WL 5508636 *4 (D. N.J. Nov. 9, 2011) (citing Ario v. Underwriting Memb. of Syndicate 53 at Lloyds for 1998 Year of Account, 618 F.3d 277, 288 (3d Cir. 2010)). The FAA was "designed to overrule the judiciary's longstanding refusal to enforce agreements to arbitrate." Id. The statute provides four grounds for vacatur:

In any of the following cases the United States court in and for the district wherein the award was made may make an order vacating the award upon the ...


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