asserted inequities among the members of the Sakala group.
In May of 1971, following such a study, Messrs. Bluestone and Gerber issued their report, recommending negotiations with the Corporation to adjust asserted intra-group inequities by granting the Sakala group seniority at Clark from the day after the first memorandum, and by rearranging seniority among them accordingly, rather than seniority by date of actual transfer. These recommendations were embodied in agreements with the Corporation in July and September 1971.
On August 15, 1971, the Sakala group, dissatisfied with this result, docketed the appeal to the Convention Appeals Committee of the International.
The Convention Appeals Committee is the International's highest body. It consists of 15 union representatives from throughout the United States and Canada. Following a full hearing on December 7, 1971, it issued a decision directing the International's General Motors Department to effect, through negotiations with the Corporation, a restoration to the Sakala group of their Harrison seniority.
The Masullo plaintiffs contend they were not given a full and fair opportunity to present their case to the Convention Appeals Committee. I find otherwise. See T297-298.
Mr. Bluestone conferred with the Corporation, which, faced with demands to restore the Sakala seniority, stated it would agree only on condition that it not be liable for back pay to the Sakala group. Agreement was reached on January 24, 1972, restoring full Harrison seniority to the Sakala group in conformity with the mandate of the Convention Committee. This, claims both the Corporation and the Unions, constituted an "equitable solution" within the intendment of paragraph 96.
The Sakala group argues that the Corporation's original estimate of 34 never should have been revised; that it was revised only because the Local arbitrarily acted to protect its members who are herein named as the Masullo plaintiffs, and that in turn the International arbitrarily acted to accept the Local's position without due consideration of the interests of the Sakala group. Additionally, the Sakala group argues that the Local's position was founded upon ignorance of the Harrison toolroom operation and the differences between it and the Clark toolroom operation; that neither the Local nor the International ever made an appropriate study; that once the transfers occurred no accurate study could be made; that the Local, to bolster its position, threatened an illegal strike; that the meetings of the Local and the International which culminated in the reduction were too often held without representation of the Sakala group; that the burden of proving the original number of 34 was proper should not have been imposed on the Sakala group; that the Local prejudged the grievances filed by the Sakala group; that the reduction from 34 to 24 was a compromise without basis in fact; that the Local was partial to the Masullo plaintiffs and acted arbitrarily adverse to the Sakala plaintiffs and afforded no representation to the latter in dealing with the Corporation; and that the International violated its duty to the Sakala plaintiffs by permitting the Local to so act. Proposed Findings of Fact 56-57. For these reasons, the Sakala plaintiffs contend, they never should have been deprived of their seniority even temporarily.
The Masullo group, of course, sees no merit whatever to the Sakala position, and contends that neither the Local nor International ever verified the estimate of 34; that the Memorandum of Understanding of June 22, 1968, violated paragraph 96 of the National Agreement; that the compromise of 24 worked out in an agreement of December 10, 1969, should have been maintained; that at the final appeal hearing before the Convention Appeals Committee the Masullo group was not properly represented by the Local; that the final decision was without basis in fact; and that
The action of the International as aforesaid violates its duty of fair representation owed to the Masullo Group, in that it first acquiesced in a decision of the Corporation that 34 jobs were transferred contrary to its representations to its members; it thereafter neglected to present the arguments of the Masullo Group to the Convention Appeals Committee and misled the Masullo Group in believing that it need not present any argument to said committee; and it disregarded the only factual analysis made of the issue -- the determinations of its two fact finding committees and resolved the rights of its members on the basis of unfounded supposition and conjecture. The Corporation having agreed in December 1969 that 24 was the appropriate figure entered into the January 1972 agreement contrary to the demonstrable facts.
See Masullo Proposed Findings of Fact 26; see also Masullo Proposed Findings of Fact 17-25.
I have examined all of the foregoing claims, and others, raised by the plaintiffs. For the reasons hereinafter set forth, the claims of both groups that the Local and International violated their duty of fair representation must be denied.
We are faced with, then, competing contentions of the Sakala and Masullo groups that the defendant Unions unfairly preferred one at the expense of the other at various decision and appeal stages, thereby breaching their duty of fair representation. As all parties concede, to succeed in such a claim requires proof of arbitrary, discriminatory, or bad faith conduct. Plaintiffs' burden in this case is made even heavier by the fact that the controversy revolves around whether the International accomplished, under paragraph 96 of the National Agreement, an "equitable solution" to the controversy between the Sakala and Masullo groups.
Congress and the courts have given unions extended authority and discretion to reconcile and accommodate the competing interests of the various groups they represent. This policy evolves from a recognition that, overall, the individual interests of employees are best served by collective action. Emporium Capwell Co. v. Western Addition Community Organization, 420 U.S. 50, 95 S. Ct. 977, 43 L. Ed. 2d 12 (1975); NLRB v. Allis-Chalmers, 388 U.S. 175, 180, 87 S. Ct. 2001, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1123 (1967); cf. Harris v. Chemical Leaman Tank Lines, Inc., 437 F.2d 167, 171 (5th Cir. 1971). In negotiating any agreement a union almost necessarily must sacrifice the interests of some of its members, to a degree, for the greater good of all. Steele v. Louisville & Nashville R.R., 323 U.S. 192, 202, 65 S. Ct. 226, 89 L. Ed. 173 (1944).
On the other hand, while our national labor policy accords unions great discretion in representing their members, "the Supreme Court did not invest the Union with a carte blanche." Griffin v. U.A.W., 469 F.2d 181, 183 (4th Cir. 1972). Thus the doctrine of the duty of fair representation emerges, requiring a union to deal fairly, rationally and honestly with its members. The broad discretion accorded union decision making is particularly appropriate where there are implicated conflicting seniority rights in plant-merger cases. Invariably, no matter what the decision, made from among a number of reasonable methods of mixing two or more groups of employees, there will be disgruntlement.
In point is Ford Motor Co. v. Huffman, 345 U.S. 330, 73 S. Ct. 681, 97 L. Ed. 1048 (1953), which enunciated the fair representation duty in a bargaining context (as compared to the grievance processing context of Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 87 S. Ct. 903, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1967)).
The Court said:
The bargaining representative, whoever it may be, is responsible to, and owes complete loyalty to, the interests of all whom it represents. . . . Inevitably differences arise in the manner and degree to which the terms of any negotiated agreement affect individual employees and classes of employees. The mere existence of such differences does not make them invalid. The complete satisfaction of all who are represented is hardly to be expected. A wide range of reasonableness must be allowed a statutory bargaining representative in serving the unit it represents, subject always to complete good faith and honesty of purpose in the exercise of its discretion.
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