Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, D.C. Civil No. 89-121E.
Greenberg, Scirica and Seitz, Circuit Judges.
Defendants, United Paperworkers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC and Local No. 701, United Paperworkers International Union AFL-CIO-CLC (Union), appeal from a final order of the district court granting the plaintiff, Penntech Papers, Inc. (Penntech), summary judgment in its action to vacate an arbitration award. Our review is plenary.
The district court's jurisdiction was based on Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185 (1982). We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1982).
Penntech and the Union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement which was effective from June 10, 1986, through June 10, 1989. Under the terms of this agreement, if Penntech substantially changed the duties of an existing job classification so as to make its wage rate out of line with representative jobs in the plant, it was required to negotiate the matter with the Union.
On November 15, 1987, Penntech eliminated the Starch Mixer classification and incorporated the duties of this position within the existing job classification of Size and Clay Mixer. The Union filed a grievance alleging that such a change warranted a new wage rate for the Size and Clay Mixer position.
When no agreement could be reached, the Union presented the matter for arbitration under the arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.*fn1 On May 5, 1989, the arbitrator found that the elimination of the Starch Mixer (or helper) position and the absorption of that job's duties into the job of the Size and Clay Mixer (or operator) constituted a substantial change in the position.
The arbitrator further concluded that, since an increase of $.25 was implemented in a prior, similar restructuring, the wage rate of the Size and Clay Mixer was "out of line" with representative jobs in the plant. He, therefore, awarded an increase of $.25 per hour.
On May 25, 1989, Penntech filed suit to vacate and set aside the arbitrator's award. The district court granted the company's motion for summary judgment on the basis that the award did not draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. Specifically, it held that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in awarding a rate increase without detailed job duty/wage comparisons, which it concluded were called for by his construction of the collective bargaining agreement. This appeal followed.
The Supreme Court has narrowly circumscribed the scope of judicial review of a labor arbitration award. "Unless the arbitral decision does not 'draw its essence from the collective bargaining agreement,' a court is bound to enforce the award and is not entitled to review the merits of the contract dispute." W.R. Grace & Co. v. Local Union 759, Int'l Union of the United Rubber Workers, 461 U.S. 757, 764, 76 L. Ed. 2d 298, 103 S. Ct. 2177 (1983) (quoting United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960)). We have consistently applied this standard in reviewing district court dispositions of arbitration cases. See e.g., Ludwig Honold Mfg. Co. v. Fletcher, 405 F.2d 1123, 1128 (3d Cir. 1969). We turn to the present facts.
At the hearing before the arbitrator, the parties could not agree on the wording of the arbitral issue. Penntech proposed the following:
Have the duties of the Size and Clay Mixer changed substantially so as to bring its job rate out of line with ...