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New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co., Inc. v. Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehouseman and Helpers

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 10, 2019

NEW ENTERPRISE STONE & LIME CO., INC., Plaintiff,
v.
TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS, LOCAL UNION NO. 110, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KIM R. GIBSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company, Inc.'s ("NESL") Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 26) and Defendant Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers Local Union No. 110's (the "Union") Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23). These motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition. (See ECF Nos. 24, 25, 27, 28, 30-33.)

         This case arises from a dispute over the arbitrability of a grievance filed by Charles Frye (the "Frye Grievance"), who was an employee of Plaintiff and represented by Defendant. In short, Frye sought to take his grievance over vacation pay entitlement to arbitration under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA"). The present case ensued when Plaintiff filed its Complaint in this Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the Frye Grievance is not arbitrable.

         For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 26) is DENIED, and Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23) is GRANTED.

         II. Jurisdiction and Venue

         The Court has federal question jurisdiction over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this is an action against a labor organization under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 141 et. seq. (See ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 7-13; ECF No. 7 ¶¶ 7-13.) Venue is proper in the Western District of Pennsylvania pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), (c), under which venue is proper in any district court in the United States having jurisdiction of the parties.

         III. Procedural History

         Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit by filing the Complaint on January 4, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment that the Frye Grievance is not arbitrable and that Plaintiff has no obligation to arbitrate the Frye grievance under the CBA. (Id. ¶¶ 43-49.) Plaintiff also seeks to enjoin Defendant from proceeding in arbitration on any issues concerning the Frye Grievance. (Id. ¶¶ 50-54.)

         In response, Defendant filed an Answer on March 4, 2018, asking the Court to deny Plaintiff's requests for injunctive and declaratory relief and bringing a counterclaim against Plaintiff to compel arbitration. (ECF No. 7 ¶¶ 54-62.) Plaintiff filed an Answer to the Counterclaim on March 4, 2018. (ECF No. 8.)

         Defendant filed this Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or in the Alternative Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 23) on September 30, 2018. Plaintiff filed its Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 26) the next day on October 1, 2018. Trje briefing and responses on these motions concluded on October 31, 2018. (See ECF Nos. 24, 25, 27, 28, 30-33.)

         IV. Factual History

         The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.[1]

         Plaintiff and Defendant have been parties to several, successive collective bargaining agreements covering NESL employees at its Roaring Spring, Blair County, Pennsylvania facilities, including Charles Frye. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 14.) The relevant CBA between Plaintiff and Defendant went into effect on December 15, 2015, and expired on January 31, 2019. (Id. ¶ 15; ECF No. 1-2.) The CBA contains a grievance and arbitration procedure in Article 16. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 16.) Section 16.01 of the CBA states that "[NESL] and the Union agree to the following [arbitration] procedure for the adjustment of any grievances or disputes arising from the imposition of discipline or the alleged violation of any of the Articles of this Agreement." (Id. ¶ 16; ECF No. 1-2 at 16.) Article 13 of the CBA provides for NESL employees' vacation eligibility. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 17-19; ECF No. 1-2 at 13-14.) Specifically, Section 13.01 of the CBA states that "[a]ll employees covered by this agreement shall be eligible for such vacations as are hereinafter set forth," provided that certain requirements are met by the employee. (ECF No. 1-2 at 13.)

         In September 2017, Mr. Frye gave notice to Plaintiff that he would retire from NESL in October 2017. (ECF No. 1 ¶ 21.) After making his retirement announcement, Mr. Frye asked Plaintiff whether he would receive vacation pay in 2018 for the vacation that he worked for in 2017. (Id. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff told Mr. Frye that he would not receive such vacation pay in 2018, because his retirement date would preclude his working on or after January 1, 2018. (Id. ¶ 26.) Mr. Frye retired on October 27, 2017. (Id. ¶ 31.)

         Plaintiff has not paid Mr. Frye any vacation pay for 2018. (Id. ¶ 32.) On November 14, 2017, Mr. Frye filed the Frye Grievance, alleging that he was entitled to be paid in 2018 for vacation days which he worked in 2017. (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 33-34.) Letters regarding the merits of the Frye Grievance were exchanged ...


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