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INDEP. OIL WORKERS UNION v. MOBIL OIL

November 8, 1991

INDEPENDENT OIL WORKERS UNION, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MOBIL OIL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gerry, Chief Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 25, 1991, the Independent Oil Workers Union (the "Union") asked this court to enjoin the Mobil Oil Company ("Mobil") from unilaterally implementing a random drug and alcohol testing program in its Paulsboro Refinery pending arbitration of the matter pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement between the parties. The Union also asked us to declare that the matter was arbitrable at its pre-implementation stage and to order expedited arbitration.

On November 4, 1991, we denied the Union's motion for a preliminary injunction, but found that the matter was arbitrable before implementation. Additionally, we declined to order expedited arbitration. Our decision left Mobil free to implement its random drug and alcohol testing program and left the Union free to grieve and arbitrate the matter without having to await a disciplinary action instituted by Mobil pursuant to the program.

II. BACKGROUND

The Union was certified by the National Labor Relations Board on March 17, 1945, as the exclusive bargaining representative for the production, maintenance, and laboratory employees employed by Mobil at the Paulsboro Refinery. In 1985, Mobil first proposed implementing a random drug and alcohol testing program for employees in "safety/security sensitive" positions. The Union filed a grievance over the matter and eventually demanded arbitration. However, this demand was withdrawn after Mobil agreed to drop the random element of its policy and restrict drug and alcohol testing to those cases in which there was reasonable suspicion.*fn1

On March 26, 1990, the parties entered into a new three year collective bargaining agreement (the "Agreement"). In October 1990, Mobil renewed its intention unilaterally to implement a random drug and alcohol testing policy. The Union objected, and requested that Mobil delay implementation and submit the matter to expedited arbitration. The Union also filed a grievance over the decision to implement the policy. In late October, 1990, Mobil rejected this grievance, insisting that it was "inappropriate and premature," and offered to bargain with the Union concerning the new policy. The Union agreed to bargain; however, it insisted that Mobil was bound by the drug and alcohol testing policy adopted in 1985, and that it was a violation of the Agreement to revise the policy.

On September 5, 1991, Mobil advised the Union that it would implement the revised policy on November 4, 1991. The Union objected, and on September 16, 1991, filed a grievance over the decision to implement the revised policy. The Union also advised Mobil that it wished to submit the matter to expedited arbitration. On September 30, 1991, after negotiations between the parties,*fn2 Mobil advised the Union that it considered the grievance to be premature until a Union member was disciplined pursuant to the program, and refused to waive the grievance procedure and submit the matter to expedited arbitration. This lawsuit followed.

III. MOBIL'S REVISED DRUG AND ALCOHOL CONTROL POLICY

There is no dispute that the operations conducted at the Paulsboro Refinery are ultrahazardous, and Mobil's safety concerns are obviously appropriate. Avowedly dissatisfied with the results of its reasonable suspicion and voluntary drug and alcohol testing program, and concerned about both prevention and deterrence, Mobil declared its intention to institute the random testing program at issue here.

Under Mobil's revised policy, employees in safety/security sensitive positions*fn3 become subject to random testing to screen for a variety of drugs, as well as alcohol.*fn4 Employees are to be randomly selected by computer for screening, and 50% of eligible employees are to be randomly tested annually.*fn5 Employees who decline to consent to screening are considered to have tested positive. A positive test of an employee with more than six months service results in suspension without pay.*fn6 Such employees are offered rehabilitation as a condition to continued employment. An employee with less than six months service who tests positive is terminated.*fn7

IV. DISCUSSION

We have jurisdiction over this dispute pursuant to section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185, which covers suits for violations of contracts between employers and labor unions. Our equitable jurisdiction is restricted, however, by the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101-115, which restrains us from granting injunctions in cases involving labor disputes. We are nevertheless permitted to enjoin employer actions in order to preserve the status quo in aid of arbitration. See Buffalo Forge Co. v. United Steelworkers of America, 428 U.S. 397, 96 S.Ct. 3141, 49 L.Ed.2d 1022 (1976); Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerk's Union, Local 770, 398 U.S. 235, 90 S.Ct. 1583, 26 L.Ed.2d 199 (1970); Nursing Home & Hospital Union No. 434 v. Sky Vue Terrace, Inc., 759 F.2d 1094, 1098 (3d Cir. 1985) ("a Boys Markets injunction is appropriate only where necessary to prevent conduct that threatens or frustrates the arbitral process agreed to by the parties"); Lever Brothers Co. v. International Chemical Workers Union, Local 217, 554 F.2d 115, 123 (4th Cir. 1976).

Before issuing a Boys Markets injunction, we must first establish that the parties are contractually bound to arbitrate the dispute and must then "consider whether issuance of an injunction would be warranted under ordinary principles of equity." Boys Markets, 398 U.S. at 254, 90 S.Ct. at 1594. See also Sky Vue, 759 F.2d at 1098 ("To establish that an order enjoining employer conduct is necessary to ensure that the arbitral process will not be frustrated, the party seeking the injunction must prove not only that the underlying disputes are arbitrable, but that the traditional ...


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