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Federal Labor Union 23393 v. American Can Co.

Decided: November 13, 1953.

FEDERAL LABOR UNION 23393, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
AMERICAN CAN COMPANY, A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Eastwood, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D. Eastwood, S.j.a.d. (dissenting).

Francis

[28 NJSuper Page 307] The trial court determined that the contract between the parties required the submission to arbitration

of a dispute that has arisen between them. American Can Company appeals, contending that no arbitrable issue exists.

The Can Company, as employer, and the union, as the representative of the company's employees, executed a collective bargaining agreement which was designed to govern wages, hours, working conditions and the like, in the plant.

Among other things, the contract provided:

"Article XIV. -- Management. The management of its plants and the direction of the working forces is vested exclusively in the Company, and includes but is not limited to the right to hire, to promote and demote, to transfer; to discipline or discharge for proper cause; and to relieve employees from duty because of lack of work or for other legitimate reasons. The Company, in exercising its rights, shall observe the provisions of this agreement.

"Article XVII. -- Grievance Procedure. 17.1. A grievance shall be defined as a difference arising between an employee or the Union and the Company as to the meaning or application of this agreement."

The succeeding subparagraphs of section 17.2 set forth the machinery for the direct adjustment of grievances by the parties and their representatives. And subparagraph (e) stipulates that:

"In the event that the matter shall not have been satisfactorily settled, then it shall be referred to arbitration."

It appears from the facts that around the middle of July 1952 Joseph E. Connell, a supervisor of the department known as the End Department, sent for two employees thereof, Daniel Barton and Arthur Hilger, and told them of the company's dissatisfaction with their work and of the necessity for improvement.

At the same time and in accordance with the established practice, Connell made a memorandum of his action. One copy was filed in the employer's personnel records and another was sent to the union. The memorandum which is at the core of the dispute says:

"This is notice that your work and attitude toward your work has not been satisfactory. Production on the equipment maintained by you has been consistently under par. You have made no effort to improve production on your equipment. If this condition continues to exist, you will be removed from the End Dept."

The document is entitled "Official Reprimand"; it contains a dotted line at the bottom, with "Employee's Signature" under the line. There the notation appears "Employee refused to sign." However, it does bear the ...


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