United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA INTERNATIONAL UNION and UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION 1702, Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants,
THE MONONGALIA COUNTY COAL COMPANY, Defendant/Counter-Claimant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS'
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 12] AND GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO.
S. KLEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment filed
by the United Mine Workers of America, International Union,
and the United Mine Workers of America, Local Union 1702
(together, the “Union” or
“Plaintiffs”), and the Monongalia County Coal
Company (“Defendant”). For the reasons discussed
below, the Court denies Plaintiffs' motion and grants
4, 2018, Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendant,
seeking to vacate an arbitration award. The Honorable Irene
M. Keeley, United States District Judge, ordered the parties
to submit a joint stipulated record, cross motions for
summary judgment, and response briefs. Defendant filed an
Answer and counterclaim against Plaintiffs. The case was
transferred to the Honorable Thomas S. Kleeh, United States
District Judge, on December 1, 2018. The parties have filed
their cross motions for summary judgment, which are now ripe
operates the Monongalia County Mine, an underground coal mine
in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. ECF No. 1 at ¶ 4.
Plaintiffs represent Defendant's bargaining unit
employees for purposes of collective bargaining. Id.
¶ 3. The collective bargaining agreement that governs
this relationship is the 2016 National Bituminous Coal Wage
Agreement (“NBCWA”). Id. ¶ 5. The
NBCWA establishes work jurisdiction of union-represented
employees and provides restrictions on Defendant's
ability to contract out this work. Id. ¶ 6.
dispute at issue involves work performed at the Monongalia
County Mine on November 12, 2017. Id. ¶ 9. On
that day, Defendant used non-bargaining unit personnel to
perform repair and maintenance work at the mine. Id.
On December 6, 2017, the Union filed a grievance, alleging
that Defendant violated Article IA of the NBCWA because the
work performed by contractors was reserved for bargaining
unit employees. Id. ¶ 10. The Union sought
“lost wages for 11/11/17 and [for] this practice to
cease and [to] be made whole in all ways.” Id.
February 8, 2018, the parties had a hearing before Arbitrator
William A. Babiskin (the “Arbitrator”).
Id. ¶ 11. In his award, the Arbitrator
discusses general principles of contract interpretation. ECF
No. 1-1 at 3-4. He also discusses, generally, that employers
retain managerial rights under the NBCWA, including the right
to schedule work. Id. at 4. The Arbitrator found
that because there was no monetary loss by the grievants,
“there [was] nothing to be remedied” and,
therefore, denied the grievance. Id. at 6. The
Arbitrator chose not to address the substantive issue of
whether a violation occurred, finding it unnecessary because
the lack of monetary loss meant that there would be no award.
Id. at 5. Specifically, the Arbitrator wrote that he
“strongly believe[s] in the principle of ‘no
harm, no foul, '” and that “[i]t is not
necessary to decide the issues raised by the parties as there
was no financial loss to the employees in this case.”
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate if “there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The
movant “bears the initial responsibility of informing
the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of ‘the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any,' which it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The nonmoving party must “make a
sufficient showing on an essential element of its case with
respect to which it has the burden of proof.”
Id. at 317-18. Summary judgment is proper
“[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party,
there [being] no ‘genuine issue for trial.'”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Court may review labor arbitrators' decisions under
Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29
U.S.C. § 185, but this power of review is
“extremely limited.” Cannelton Indus., Inc.
v. Dist. 17, UMWA, 951 F.2d 591, 593 (4th Cir. 1991).
This is because “[t]he parties to a collective
bargaining agreement bargained for the arbitrator's
interpretation, and ‘so far as the arbitrator's
decision concerns construction of the contract, the courts
have no business overruling him because their interpretation
. . . is different from his.'” Island Creek
Coal Co. v. Dist. 28, UMWA, 29 F.3d 126, 129 (4th Cir.
1994) (citing United Steelworkers of America v.
Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 599
(1960)). The Supreme Court of the United States, in the
“Steelworkers Trilogy, ”has
“emphasized that federal courts should refuse to review
the merits of an arbitration award under a collective
bargaining agreement.” Mutual Mining, Inc. v. Dist.
17, UMWA, 47 F.3d 1165, at *2 (4th Cir. 1995)
(unpublished). Both an arbitrator's findings of fact and
interpretation of the law are accorded great deference.
Upshur Coals Corp. v. UMWA, Dist. 31, 933 F.2d 225,
229 (4th Cir. 1991). In addition, “[t]he selection of
remedies is almost exclusively within the arbitrator's
domain.” Cannelton, 951 F.2d at 593-54 (citing
United Paperworkers Int'l Union v. Misco, 484
U.S. 29 (1987)).
there are some limitations on arbitration awards. The award
“must draw its essence from the contract and cannot
simply reflect the arbitrator's own notions of industrial
justice.” Misco, 484 U.S. at 38. In addition,
an arbitrator may not “impose a punitive award or
punitive damages” unless a provision in the collective
bargaining agreement provides for them. Island
Creek, 29 F.3d at 129 (citing Cannelton, 951
F.2d at 594). In deciding whether an award is punitive or
whether it draws its essence from the agreement, courts
should be mindful that arbitrators “need not give their
reasons for an award, ” but courts may rely on
arbitrators' reasoning to determine whether the
arbitrator has applied “his own brand of industrial
justice.” Cannelton, 951 F.2d at 594.
reviewing arbitration awards, courts “must be concerned
not to broaden the scope of judicial review of arbitration
decisions nor to lengthen a process that is intended to
resolve labor disputes quickly.” Id. at 595;
see also Upshur Coals Corp., 933 F.2d at 231
(writing that “[l]abor arbitration serves the important
goal of providing swift resolution to contractual
disputes”). “[A]s long as the arbitrator is even
arguably construing or applying the contract and acting
within the scope of his authority, that a court is convinced
he committed serious error does not ...