The opinion of the court was delivered by: FISHER
This matter comes before the Court upon defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs,
who are employed by the defendant, Anchor Motor Freight, Inc. as truck drivers, seek to recover both minimum wages and overtime compensation. Plaintiffs contend that the defendant violated the minimum wage provisions of section 16(b) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended, (hereinafter cited as FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), in that it failed to compensate them for certain working time. Plaintiffs further allege that the defendant violated various collective bargaining agreements by failing to pay them for overtime work in accordance with the terms of said agreements.
Defendant asserts that the plaintiffs are bound, according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreements, to utilize the grievance/arbitration procedure provided for in the agreements. Thus, it is stated that the failure of the plaintiffs to follow this procedure entitles defendant to summary judgment. It is also contended that decisions that have already been rendered regarding disputes that were processed through the grievance machinery, are final and binding. Finally, it is asserted that plaintiffs, as a matter of law, have no minimum wage claim.
There are six contracts which govern the relationship of the parties to this action. There are two National Master Automobile Transporters Agreements (National Agreements), one in effect from June 1, 1970 through August 31, 1973 and the other in effect from September 1, 1973 through May 31, 1976; two Eastern Conference Area Truckaway, Driveaway, Yard and Shop Supplements (Area Supplements), covering the same time periods as the National Agreements; and two Local Riders to the Eastern Conference Supplement (Local Riders), also in effect for approximately the same time periods.
The National Agreements contain detailed provisions regarding grievance and arbitration procedure. Although some of plaintiffs' complaints have been processed through at least some levels of the grievance machinery, the majority of plaintiffs' claims have not been submitted pursuant to the grievance/arbitration procedure contained in the contracts.
This case raises a variety of interesting legal issues. It is well settled, however, that "arbitration is a matter of contact and a party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which he has not agreed so to submit." United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409, 80 S. Ct. 1347 (1960). Accord, Gateway Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America, 414 U.S. 368, 374, 38 L. Ed. 2d 583, 94 S. Ct. 629 (1974). Thus, before these issues can be addressed, it is incumbent upon the Court to resolve the threshold question of whether the plaintiffs' claims are arbitrable grievances within the meaning of the applicable contracts. See, Hussey Metal Division of Copper Range Co. v. Lectromelt Furnace Division, McGraw-Edison Co., 471 F.2d 556, 557-58 (3d Cir. 1972).
Defendant points to Article 7, section 8 of the National Agreements, which provides:
(a) It is agreed that all matters pertaining to the interpretation of any provision of this National Master Agreement whether requested by the Employer or the Union, must be submitted to the National Automobile Transporters Joint Arbitration Committee, which Committee, after listening to testimony on both sides, shall make a decision.
(b) It is agreed that all matters pertaining to the interpretation of any provision of a Conference (area) Supplement or Local Rider thereto, whether requested by the Employer or the Union, must be submitted to the appropriate Conference (area) Joint Arbitration Committee, which Committee, after listening to testimony on both sides, shall make a decision.
(c) Any decision of any of the Joint Arbitration Committees referred to above, shall be final and conclusive and binding upon the Employer and the Union, and the employees involved.
Section 10 of Article 7 of the 1970-1973 National Agreement further provides that
These provisions appear to be quite broad in scope and application. Plaintiffs, however, make reference to Article 7, Section 1 of the National Agreements which reads as follows:
Any disputes the parties are unable to settle shall be referred to the appropriate Automobile Transporters Joint Conference Arbitration Committee, except for the following ...