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Ppl Services Corporation v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

November 29, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tucker, J.


November ___, 2012

Presently before the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment: Respondent's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 11); Petitioner's Response in Opposition thereto (Doc. 15);

Petitioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 13); and Respondent's Response and Reply in Opposition thereto (Docs. 14 & 16). Upon consideration of the parties' motions with briefs and exhibits, and for the reasons set forth below, Respondent's motion will be GRANTED.


Petitioner PPL Services Corporation ("PPL" or the "Company") brings the instant action against Respondent International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1600 ("IBEW" or the "Union") asking this Court to review and vacate the arbitration award granted to Noreen Crawford ("Grievant") on March 24, 2011. Petitioner alleges the arbitrator's award fails to draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") entered into between PPL and IBEW, and therefore should be vacated pursuant to 42 Pa. C.S. § 7301, etseq.

PPL operates the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Facility and once a year the facility undergoes a scheduled outage for maintenance purposes. In order to perform the maintenance work during the outage, PPL's employees and contractors need to gain access to the facility. Every day that an employee enters the power plant, their identification is verified, they are checked for weapons, and their permission to enter the facility is confirmed. Between early January and early March of each year, access processing work is performed through a multi-step procedure that every person must complete before they can be considered for unescorted access to the plant.

Prior to 2008, the access processing work was performed manually, primarily by Steno/Clerk general employees ("Steno/Clerk") on a voluntary overtime basis. However, in early 2008, PPL began using bar code scanning in an effort to improve efficiency in the access processing work. When PPL implemented the bar code scanning technology, the workers to be used for that work were required to complete eight (8) hours of additional training on Saturday, January 12, 2008, on an overtime basis. Five (5) Special Temporary-Clerk/Steno employees ("Spec/Temps") were selected for this training and they began access processing on January 14, 2008.

On January 30, 2008, Grievant, a Steno/Clerk, filed a grievance alleging that Steno/Clerks had not been given the opportunity to work the overtime access processing that was given to the Spec/Temps. During a grievance meeting, PPL maintained that it was not in violation of the CBA and that the Spec/Temps were the individuals who had been properly trained on the system that was necessary to complete the access processing. Steno/Clerks did not receive the training and thus were not assigned access processing overtime work.

On January 13, 2011, an arbitration hearing was held before Arbitrator John M. Skonier ("Abitrator"), in Breinigsville, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. On March 24, 2011, Arbitrator Skonier issued an arbitration award in favor of Grievant directing Petitioner to pay Grievant 42.5 hours at time and one-half of her 2008 wage rate at the time the 2008 access processing work took place.

On April 25, 2011 Petitioner filed a Petition for Review and to Vacate Arbitration Award in the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County. On May 19, 2011, IBEW removed the case to the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. On March 1, 2012, Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment and Petitioner filed a response in opposition on March 23, 2012. In addition, on March 2, 2012, Petitioner filed a motion for summary judgment and Respondent filed a response in opposition on April 2, 2012. The Court now considers the substance of these cross-motions for summary judgment.


A. Summary Judgment

Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party establishes that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that [it] is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed R. Civ P. 56(c); see also Levy v. Sterling Holding Co., LLC, 544 F.3d 493, 501 (3d Cir. 2008). A factual dispute between the parties will not defeat a motion for summary judgment unless it is both genuine and material. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986); Dee v. Borough of Dunmore, 549 F.3d 225, 229 (3d Cir. 2008). A factual dispute is genuine if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-movant, and it is material if, under the substantive law, it would affect the outcome of the suit. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Fakete v. Aetna, Inc., 308 F.3d 335, 337 (3d Cir. 2002).

The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the non-moving party to carry its burden of proof. See Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986). Once the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56, "its' opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007). Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e), the opposing party must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings. See Martin v. Godwin, 499 F.3d 290, 295 (3d Cir. 2007).

At the summary judgment stage the court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but rather to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249; Jiminez v. All American Rathskeller, Inc., 503 F.3d 247, 253 (3d Cir. 2007). In doing so, the court must construe the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Horsehead Indus., Inc. v. Paramount Communications, Inc., 258 F.3d 132 (3d Cir. 2001). The court must award summary judgment on all claims unless the non-moving party shows through affidavits or admissible evidence that an issue of material fact remains. See, e.g., Love v. Rancocas Hosp., 270 F.Supp.2d 576, 579 (D.N.J. 2003); Koch Materials Co. v. Shore Slurry Seal, Inc., 205 F.Supp.2d 324, 330 (D.N.J. 2002).

B. Vacating an Arbitration Award

If a collective bargaining agreement that is reached between an employer and its employees includes an arbitration clause, it is assumed that having an arbitrator interpret the agreement is the parties bargained for and preferred method of resolving a grievance. Brentwood Medical Assoc. v. United Mine Workers of America, 396 F.3d 237, 240 (3d Cir. 2005). Thus, a district court's role in reviewing the decision of the arbitrator is very limited as it is not to correct factual or legal errors made by the arbitrator. Major League Umpires Ass'n v. American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, 372 F.3d 272, 279 (3d Cir. 2004). A district court cannot vacate an arbitration award "simply because it disagrees with the arbitrator's construction of the contract. or because it believes its interpretation of the ...

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