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Teamsters-Employers Local No. 945 Pension Fund v. S & L Zeppetelli

July 25, 2007

TEAMSTERS-EMPLOYERS LOCAL NO. 945 PENSION FUND, TRUSTEES OF TEAMSTERS-EMPLOYERS LOCAL: 945 PENSION FUND, LOCAL 945 I. B. OF T WELFARE FUND, PETITIONERS,
v.
S & L ZEPPETELLI, INC., RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis M. Cavanaugh, U.S.D.J.

OPINION

Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh

This matter comes before the Court upon motion by Teamsters-Employers Local No. 945 Pension Fund, Trustees of Teamsters-Employers Local 945 Pension Fund, Local 945 I. B. of T Welfare Fund ("Petitioners") to confirm an arbitration award and upon cross-motion by S & L Zeppetelli ("Respondent" or "Zeppetelli") to vacate the arbitration award. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, this Court did not entertain oral arguments. After carefully considering the parties' submissions, and based upon the following, it is the finding of this Court that Petitioners' motion to confirm the arbitration award is granted. Respondent's cross-motion to vacate the arbitration award is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

In March, 2005, Petitioners terminated the union membership of Joseph Cutruzzula, Sr. ("Cutruzzula"), an employee of Respondent's, because Petitioners determined that Cutruzzula was not performing bargaining-unit work. Petitioners initially denied Respondent's request that Cutruzzula be reinstated. Respondent then purchased alternative health coverage for Cutruzzula before his union membership was ultimately restored.

The parties agreed to settle their dispute over Cutruzzula's membership status and memorialized the agreement in a Consent Award dated December 7, 2005, signed by Arbitrator William J. DiCindio. The agreement provides in part that "[Zeppetelli] shall pay Welfare and Pension contributions on behalf of Joseph Catruzzula, Sr., retroactive to May 1, 2005, to coincide with Cutruzzula's retroactive union membership reinstatement." See Carlson Cert., Exh. A.

A new dispute arose between Petitioners and Respondent over the amount Respondent would have to pay Petitioners. Respondent argues that any amount owed to Petitioner by Respondent for the reinstatement of Cutruzzula, retroactively effective to May, 2005, should be off-set by the amount Respondent paid for Cutruzzula's coverage through a third-party insurer during the period his union membership was suspended.

Arbitrator Michael S. Murray issued an Opinion and Award in the Petitioners' favor on February 6, 2007. Petitioners now move before this Court to confirm the Award. Respondents oppose and cross-move for a vacation of Arbitrator Murray's holding.

II. DISCUSSION

Arbitration Award

The Labor Management Relations Act provides federal jurisdiction for the confirmation of arbitration awards. 29 U.S.C. § 185. "As long as the arbitrator has arguably construed or applied the contract, the award must be enforced" and courts are not permitted to reconsider the merits of an award. News Am.Publ'n, Inc. v. Newark Typographical Union, Local 103, 918 F.2d 21, 24 (3d Cir. 1990). "[O]nly where there is a manifest disregard of the agreement, totally unsupported by principles of contract construction . . . may a reviewing court disturb the award." Id. (internal quotation omitted).

On December 7, 2005, the parties agreed to a Consent Award before Arbitrator DiCindio which states as follows:

* That Joseph Cutruzzula, Sr. had his Union membership terminated in March, 2005.

* That the Union membership of Joseph Cutruzzula, Sr. shall be reinstated ...


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