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Bayway Refinery v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 29, 2014

PHILLIPS 66, BAYWAY REFINERY, Petitioner,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, LOCAL 877, Respondent.

OPINION

WILLIAM J. MARTINI, District Judge.

This consolidated case involves two awards issued in labor arbitrations between Phillips 66, Bayway Refinery (the "Company") and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 877 (the "Union"). The first award was issued in favor of the Company by arbitrator Stanley Aiges on August 22, 2013. The Company now moves without opposition to confirm the Aiges Award. The second award was issued in favor of the Union by arbitrator Jeffrey Tener on July 17, 2013. The Company now moves to vacate the Tener Award, and the Union cross-moves to dismiss the Company's petition to vacate the Tener Award. There was no oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the reasons set forth below, the Aiges Award is CONFIRMED, and the petition to vacate the Tener Award is DISMISSED.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court begins by reviewing the relevant provisions of the collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA") at issue in this case. The Court then turns to the Aiges Award and the Tener Award, which are the subject of the pending motions.

A. The CBA

During the relevant time period, the relationship between the Company and the Union was governed by the CBA. Smith Cert., Ex. F at J-1, ECF No. 3-4. Article 19 of the CBA sets forth a three step procedure for the resolution of disputes. At Step One, an employee presents a supervisor with a written grievance. CBA § 19-3. If the Company does not hear the grievance in two days or satisfy it in three days, the Union can appeal to the next step. At Step Two, the Union appeals to the Department Manager. Id. If the Department Manager does not hear the grievance in three days or resolve it in four days, the Union can appeal to the next step. Id. At Step Three, the Union appeals to the Refinery Manager. Id. If the Refinery Manager does not hear the grievance in five days or satisfy it in ten days thereafter, the Union can submit a written request for arbitration. CBA § 20-1. Pursuant to Article 20-2 of the CBA,

[t]he Union forfeits its right to arbitrate a grievance if it does not notify the Company in writing of its intent to arbitrate within sixty (60) calendar days following the expiration of the time limits as provided in Article 19, or within sixty (60) calendar days following receipt of the Company's answer to the grievance at the third step of the grievance procedure, whichever is later.

B. The Aiges Award

The first arbitration award at issue in this case (AAA Case No. 18300-01220-12, Grievance No. B-151-12) was signed by arbitrator Stanley Aiges on May 13, 2013 ("the Aiges Award"). Phillips 66, Bayway Refinery v. Int. Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 877, No. 13-5203, ECF No. 1-1. Because the Aiges Arbitration was a follow-on to an arbitration presided over by arbitrator Patrick Westerkamp, the Court begins with a discussion of the Westerkamp Arbitration.

In the Westerkamp Arbitration, the Union alleged that the Company was paying different Union workers different wages for the same work. See Phillips 66, Bayway Refinery v. Int. Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 877, No. 12-6624, 2013 WL 618812, at *1 (D.N.J. Feb. 19, 2013). For ease of reference, the Court refers to this practice as "the Payment Practice." Arbitrator Westerkamp held that the Payment Practice grievance was not arbitrable because the Union failed to comply with the deadlines in Article 20-2. See id. This Court confirmed the non-arbitrability ruling. Id. at *3. Arbitrator Westerkamp also held that because the Payment Practice was continuing, the Union could file a new grievance under a "continuing violation" theory. See id. at *1. This Court vacated that holding because it addressed an issue that was not submitted to arbitration. Id. at *3.

In the Aiges Arbitration at issue in the case now before this Court, the Union pursued the continuing violation theory suggested by Arbitrator Westerkamp. Specifically, the Union argued that it continued to be subjected to the Payment Practice after Arbitrator Westerkamp ruled. Arbitrator Aiges held that this new grievance was not arbitrable. Aiges Award at 6-8. He explained: "[T]he Union cannot be allowed to directly violate the time limits imposed upon it under the [CBA], and then be allowed to indirectly circumvent those time limits by filing a new grievance on the identical issue." Id. at 7. "To do so, " he continued, "would serve only to undermine the parties' grievance procedure." Id. Arbitrator Aiges added:

In Section 20-2 [of the CBA], the parties plainly agreed that the Union forfeits and waives its right to arbitrate a grievance' if it does not abide by specified time limits for filing for arbitration. Giving the rulings of Arbitrator Westerkamp and the District Court, there is no escaping the conclusion [that] the Union has waived and forfeited its right to hear the merits of its claim regarding [the Payment Practice].

Id. at 7-8. On August 29, 2013, the Company filed the instant petition to confirm the Aiges Award. The case was assigned to the Honorable Faith S. ...


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