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Communications Workers of America, Afl-Cio v. Lucent Technologies

March 11, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Dennis M. Cavanaugh




This matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' motion for summary judgment pursuant Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO ("CWA") cross-moves for summary judgment. No oral argument was heard pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion is granted and CWA's cross-motion is denied.


CWA is a labor organization and signatory to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") with Defendant Lucent Technologies Inc. ("Lucent"). The CBA, effective from November 1, 2004 until May 26, 2012 is titled the Installation Contract, CWA-24 (the "Installation Contract"). Pl.'s Br. 5. The Installation Contract is a successor agreement to a line of similar Installation Contracts entered into between Lucent and CWA starting in 1996, when Lucent spun off from AT&T, the original party to the Installation Contracts. Defs.' Br. 2. The Installation Contract contains a broad arbitration clause that states:

If the National and the Company fail to settle by negotiation any differences arising with respect to the interpretation of this contract or the performance of any obligation hereunder, such differences shall (provided that such dispute is not excluded from arbitration by other provisions of this contract, and provided that the grievance procedures as to such dispute have been exhausted) be referred upon written demand of either party to an impartial arbitrator mutually agreeable to both parties. Muscat Certif., Ex. (emphasis added).

On November 30, 2006, through an acquisition, Lucent became an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Alcatel Lucent, a corporation organized under the laws of France. Defs.' Br. 2.*fn2 On December 31, 2007, Defendant Alcatel USA, Inc. was renamed Alcatel-Lucent Holdings Inc., also a named Defendant in this matter. Defs.' Br. 2-3. For the purposes of this litigation, Defendants Lucent, Alcatel-Lucent Holdings Inc., Alcatel USA Marketing, Inc. and Alcatel USA Sourcing, Inc. have admitted that they "'operated as a single employer, sharing common management, centralized control over labor relations and interrelated operations.'" Defs.' Br. 3.*fn3 The parties stipulated that this single employer admission extended to Grievance EX-24-07-006, the subject of the present dispute. Defs.' Br. 3. Despite this admission, Defendants contend that they remained separate corporate entities until November 1, 2008 when Alcatel USA Marketing, Inc. and Alcatel USA Sourcing, Inc. were merged into Lucent and subsequently renamed Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc. ("Alcatel-Lucent") Defs.' Br. 3. Defendants deny that any party other than Lucent is subject to the terms of the Installation Contract.

Subsequent to the November 30, 2006 merger, and continuing through 2007, Defendants allege that both Lucent and the Alcatel subsidiaries continued to follow their pre-existing business models. Defs.' Br. 4. Lucent continued to sell and install Lucent legacy equipment, primarily using its CWA-represented Field Installation workforce as it had before, and the Altcatel subsidiaries continued to sell Alcatel legacy equipment and have it installed by non-union subcontractors. Defs.' Br. 4.

Within one year following the acquisition of Lucent, CWA bargaining unit members covered by the Installation Contract claim they witnessed non-bargaining unit personnel wearing "Alcatel-Lucent" identification while performing installation work at client sites. Pl.'s Br. 2. When CWA brought this discovery to Lucent's attention, the Company responded that this work was being performed by a corporate subsidiary and therefore was not within the jurisdiction of the Installation Contract. Pl.'s Br. 2.

In October 2007, the CWA filed Grievance EX-24-07-006 (the "Grievance") under the Installation Contract. This executive level grievance, covers eighteen local grievances filed in various locations most of which pertain to the fact that Alcatel-Lucent "permitted non-bargaining unit members to perform bargaining unit work." Defs.' Br. 9. Defs.' Br. 8. The Grievance alleges violations of CBA Articles 3, 4, 9, 12, 13, and 23. Pl.'s Br. 4. It also alleges violations of a localmemorandum called "Mode of Operations Agreement," a side letter agreement called the "Bahr-Williams" letter and a memorandum called "Workplace of the Future."*fn4

Alcatel-Lucent issued a written denial of the Grievance on May 15, 2008 stating that:

The work that is the subject of this grievance was not assigned to Lucent. It was presumably assigned to Alcatel USA. CWA's collective bargaining agreements are with Lucent Technologies, not Alcatel USA or any other Alcatel-Lucent affiliate. Accordingly, the underlying dispute is not with Lucent and it is not recognized under the collective bargaining agreement.

Defs.' Statement of Facts ΒΆ 26. "In response, CWA demanded in writing that Alcatel-Lucent arbitrate the Grievance. Upon Alcatel-Lucent's refusal to do so, CWA commenced the present action to compel arbitration. Defs.' Br. 9. Defendants note that "[p]rior to the filing of [the Grievance], the CWA never sought to arbitrate a grievance over ...

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