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The Monongalia County Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

September 5, 2019

THE MONONGALIA COUNTY COAL COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, INTERNATIONAL UNION, and UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION 1702, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 11], GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 12], AND VACATING ARBITRATION AWARD

          THOMAS S. KLEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court are cross motions for summary judgment filed by the Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant, The Monongalia County Coal Company (“Plaintiff”), and the Defendants and Counter-Claimants, the United Mine Workers of America, International Union, and the United Mine Workers of America, Local Union 1702 (“Defendants”). For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Plaintiff's motion and denies Defendants' motion.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff initiated this action under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, by filing a Complaint to vacate an arbitration award. United States District Judge Irene M. Keeley set a briefing schedule in this matter and ordered the parties to file a joint stipulated record, cross motions for summary judgment, and response briefs. The parties have submitted all of the above, and the cross motions for summary judgment are ripe for consideration. This case was transferred to United States District Judge Thomas S. Kleeh on December 1, 2018.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The complaint and the pending motions for summary judgment stem from a grievance filed by a bargaining unit employee at the Monongalia County Mine in West Virginia. The terms and conditions for bargaining unit employees at the Monongalia County Mine are set forth in the 2016 National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement (“NBCWA” or the “agreement”). The NBCWA provides the following regarding “Work Jurisdiction”:

The production of coal, including removal of over-burden and coal waste, preparation, processing and cleaning of coal and transportation of coal (except by waterway or rail not owned by Employer), repair and maintenance work normally performed at the mine or at a central shop of the Employer and maintenance of gob piles and mine roads, and work of the type customarily related to all of the above shall be performed by classified Employees of the Employer covered by and in accordance with the terms of this Agreement. Contracting, subcontracting, leasing and subleasing, and construction work, as defined herein, will be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
Nothing in this section will be construed to diminish the jurisdiction, express or implied, of the United Mine Workers.

ECF No. 10-1 at 10-11.

         The agreement also distinguishes between (1) Repair and Maintenance Work and (2) Construction Work. Id. at 12-13. Finally, the NBCWA provides the following regarding resolution of disputes:

The United Mine Workers of America and the Employers agree and affirm that, except as provided herein, they will maintain the integrity of this contract and that all disputes and claims which are settled by agreement shall be settled by the machinery provided in the “Settlement of Disputes” Article of this agreement . . ., it being the purpose of this provision to provide for the settlement of all such disputes and claims through the machinery in this contract and by collective bargaining agreement without recourse to the courts.

ECF No. 10-2 at 58. It further provides that “[e]xpenses and fees incident to the service of an arbitrator shall be paid equally by the Employer affected and by the UMWA district affected” and does not comment upon other costs potentially incurred by parties during arbitration. Id. at 55.

         Defendants, through the grievant, Tim Gibson (the “Grievant”), alleged that Plaintiff “violated the terms of the NBCWA by having contractors perform classified work, including, but not limited to, unspooling, distributing and hanging hoses, cables and data line on the monorail system in the Monongalia County Mine . . . .” ECF No. 1 at ¶ 8. Defendants requested a cease and desist order and 48 hours of double time paid to the Grievant. Id.

         Arbitrator Ralph H. Colflesh, Jr. (the “Arbitrator”) held a hearing on April 27, 2018, and issued a decision on May 8, 2018. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. The Arbitrator found that subcontracting took place and that the subcontracting was prohibited by the NBCWA. ECF No. 1-1 at 12. He also found that there was “no actual loss” suffered by the Grievant. Id. at 8. Still, he wrote that he “concur[s] with the principle . . . that in general every sustained grievance must have some remedy.” Id. at 15. He wrote that “the Union suffered a loss because its ...


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