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Local 88502 of International Union of Electronic v. Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

August 9, 2019





         A. Relevant Procedural History

         On July 26, 2019, Plaintiff Local 88502 of the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers AFL-CIO-CWA (“the Union”), commenced this action by filing a complaint against Defendant Morgan Advanced Materials and Technology, Inc. (“the Company”), claiming that the Company is undermining the grievance, arbitration and “No Strike No Lockout” provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) between the parties.

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs motion for preliminary injunction [ECF No. 3], by which Plaintiff seeks an Order “restraining [the Company] from eliminating part of the certified bargaining unit and replacing it with non-union employees, pending arbitration on the Union's grievance challenging [the Company's] plan as violative of the terms of the parties' [CBA]. (ECF No. 3, at p. 1). In other words, Plaintiff “seeks to preserve a meaningful opportunity to arbitrate its dispute with the Defendant” under the CBA. (ECF No. 4, Plaintiffs Brief, at p. 1). The Company has since filed a memorandum in opposition to the Union's motion [ECF No. 11], [1] and this Court held a hearing on August 5, 2019, at which counsel for both parties appeared and presented oral arguments. This matter is now ripe for disposition.

         B. Relevant Factual History

         On or about March 20, 2019, the Company informed the Union that it was contemplating a decision to dissolve its Maintenance Department and to subcontract its maintenance operations to an outside company called Advanced Technology Services (“ATS”) (hereinafter referred to as the “Outsourcing Proposal”). The Union rejected the Outsourcing Proposal; however, after a period of decisional bargaining that failed to produce an agreeable alternative, the Company informed the Union on May 30, 2019, that it had decided to proceed with subcontracting its maintenance operations to ATS, and subsequently executed a contract with ATS on June 3, 2019. On the same date, the Union filed a grievance challenging the Company's decision as a violation of the CBA.

         At the time of the Outsourcing Proposal, the Company's Maintenance Department consisted of nine bargaining unit employees. Sometime during the bargaining process, four of the nine maintenance employees decided to retire, three of whom received severance pay.[2] Three other maintenance employees accepted jobs with ATS, at higher wage rates, and agreed to receive severance pay from the Company. Another maintenance employee declined a job with ATS and, instead, accepted a severance payment from the Company. The remaining maintenance employee elected to exercise his right under the CBA to accept a voluntary layoff.

         On July 8, 2019, after the parties were unable to resolve the Union's grievance, the Union submitted the grievance to arbitration, and an arbitrator was subsequently chosen by the parties; however, the arbitration is not scheduled to occur until after the Company's full implementation of its Outsourcing Proposal. The instant motion for injunctive relief ensued.


         The Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101, et seq., generally prohibits federal courts from issuing injunctions in labor disputes, providing, in pertinent part, that:

No court of the United States, ... shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute, except in strict conformity with the provisions of this chapter; nor shall any restraining order or ... injunction be issued contrary to the public policy declared in this chapter.

29 U.S.C. § 101.

         Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has recognized a narrow exception to this general prohibition when the involvement of the federal courts is necessary to encourage and promote the voluntary resolution of labor disputes through arbitration. Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail ClerksUnion, Local 770, 398 U.S. 235 (1970) (upholding an order enjoining a strike pending resolution of an arbitrable dispute through the contractual grievance process). The Court emphasized the narrow application of this exception in Buffalo Forge Co. v. United Steelworkers of America, 428 U.S. 397 (1976), where it stated that the justification for a Boys Markets injunction is not to remedy a breach of the collective bargaining agreement, but instead solely to enforce the promise to arbitrate. “Thus, a Boys Markets injunction is appropriate only where necessary to prevent conduct that threatens or frustrates the arbitral process agreed to by the ...

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