On appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (C. A. No. 83-1415).
Adams and Weis, Circuit Judges, and Harris, District Judge*fn* .
This appeal presents two principle questions: (1) whether an order denying a stay so that a matter may be arbitrated constitutes an appealable order, and (2) whether a dispute over a "most favored nations" clause in a collective bargaining agreement should be decided by arbitration or by the district court.
H. C. Lawton, Jr., Inc., the employer, brought suit in the district court alleging that the union had violated the "most favored nations" clause by offering better contractual terms to a rival employer. Truck Drivers, Chauffeurs and Helpers Local Union No. 384 (Local 384) sought a stay pending arbitration. The district court denied the motion for a stay, and Local 384 appealed. Because we believe that the dispute is arbitrable, we will reverse and remand.
The relevant facts for purposes of this appeal are quite simple. From 1972 to the present, Lawton and Local 384 have been parties to a series of five collective bargaining agreements. Each of the first four agreements contained an identical "most favored nations" clause, Article 20, which reads as follows:
BETTER TERMS OR CONDITIONS
Union agrees that if during the life of this Agreement it grants to any other Employer engaged in the same class of work as Employer under this Agreement, any better terms and/or conditions than those set forth in this Agreement, such better terms and/or conditions shall be made available to Employer under this Agreement and Union shall immediately notify Employer of any such concessions.
The current agreement, executed May 1, 1983, does not include the above clause.
All of the collective bargaining agreements also contain an article governing arbitration and grievance procedures, Article 6. The relevant sections read as follows.
Section 4. Any matter specifically covered by any provisions of this Agreement, as well as any matter reserved solely to the discretion of the Employer by the terms of this Agreement, is not a grievance, dispute or difference of opinion and will not be construed as such.
Section 5. Except as set forth hereinabove, any and all matters of dispute, difference, disagreement, or controversy of any kind or character between Union and Employer involving or relating to the interpretation, construction or applications of the terms of this Agreement, and the relations between the parties arising during the term of this Agreement of any renewal thereof, which ...