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Monongalia County Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America, International Union

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

September 25, 2019

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

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 14], GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 12], AND CONFIRMING 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”), along with the Defendants and Counter-Claimants, the United Mine Workers of America, International Union, and the United Mine Workers of America Local Union 1702 (together, the “Union” or “Defendants”). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies Plaintiff’s motion and grants Defendants’ motion.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On August 31, 2018, Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants, 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. Defendants filed an Answer and Counterclaim against Plaintiff. 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 for consideration.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff operates the Monongalia County Mine, an underground coal mine, most of which is located in West Virginia. Defendants represent Plaintiff’s bargaining unit employees for purposes of collective bargaining. The collective bargaining agreement that governs this relationship is the 2016 National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement (“NBCWA”). The NBCWA establishes work jurisdiction of union-represented employees and provides restrictions on Plaintiff’s ability to contract out this work.

         A. The NBCWA

         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 site 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. 11-1 at 10–11.

         The NBCWA discusses the precedential effect of prior arbitration decisions:

All decisions of the Arbitration Review Board rendered prior to the expiration of the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1978 shall continue to have precedential effect under this Agreement to the extent that the basis for such decisions have not been modified by subsequent changes in this agreement.

ECF No. 11-2 at 60. Finally, it covers the settlement of disputes:

Settlements reached at any step of the grievance procedure shall be final and binding on both parties and shall not be subject to further proceedings under this Article except by mutual agreement. Settlements reached at steps 2 and 3 shall be in writing and ...

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