Id. As an additional basis for his decision, the arbitrator applied standard contract construction principles and reasoned that the "specific language" of the term implied by past practice governed over the "general language" found in Article VIII. Id.
Judsen refuses to abide by the arbitrator's award and instead has filed this suit to vacate the award. Judsen contends that under Article V, Section 6 of the CBA the arbitrator has "no authority to add to, take away from, amend, modify or nullify any of the provisions" of the CBA, Pl.'s 12(M) Facts P 16, and that is what the arbitrator has done here; thus, Judsen argues that the arbitrator did not draw the essence of the award from the CBA but rather impermissibly modified the contract. Judsen sues under section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, to set aside the arbitrator's award, and moves for summary judgment to vacate the award.
Local 24 counterclaims to enforce the award. Local 24 contends that the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority in making the award; therefore, the union, not Judsen, is entitled to summary judgment.
Summary Judgment Standards
Summary judgment is proper only if the record shows there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A genuine issue for trial exists only when the "evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The court must review all evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Valley Liquors, Inc. v. Renfield Importers, Ltd., 822 F.2d 656, 659 (7th Cir.) cert. denied, 484 U.S. 977, 98 L. Ed. 2d 486, 108 S. Ct. 488 (1987), and draw all inferences in the nonmovant's favor. Santiago v. Lane, 894 F.2d 218, 221 (7th Cir. 1990). However, if the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative or merely raises "some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts," summary judgment may be granted. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-250; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986); Flip Side Productions, Inc. v. Jam Productions, Ltd., 843 F.2d 1024, 1032 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 909, 102 L. Ed. 2d 249, 109 S. Ct. 261 (1988). In making its determination, the court's sole function is to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to support a verdict in the nonmovant's favor. Credibility determinations, weighing evidence, and drawing reasonable inferences are jury functions, not those of a judge deciding a motion for summary judgment. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 255.
Where cross-motions for summary judgment have been submitted, the court is not required to grant judgment as a matter of law for one side or the other. Heublein, Inc. v. U.S., 996 F.2d 1455, 1461 (2d Cir. 1993). The court must evaluate each party's motion on its own merits, resolving factual uncertainties and drawing all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion is under consideration. Id.; Buttitta v. City of Chicago, 803 F. Supp. 213, 217 (N.D. Ill. 1992), aff'd, 9 F.3d 1198 (7th Cir. 1993).
Standard for Judicial Review of Labor Arbitration Awards
The scope of judicial review of labor arbitration awards is extremely limited. See United Paperworkers Int'l Union v. Misco, Inc., 484 U.S. 29, 36, 98 L. Ed. 2d 286, 108 S. Ct. 364 (1987); Ethyl Corp. v. United Steelworkers of America, 768 F.2d 180, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1010, 89 L. Ed. 2d 300, 106 S. Ct. 1184 (1986). As the Supreme Court has observed, "the federal policy of settling labor disputes by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards." United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 596, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960). Accordingly, courts are not authorized to reconsider the merits of an arbitration award. Misco, 484 U.S. at 36; Enterprise Wheel & Car, 363 U.S. at 596.
In Enterprise Wheel & Car, the Supreme Court described the proper function of an arbitrator, as well as that of a reviewing court as follows:
An arbitrator is confined to interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreement; he does not sit to dispense his own brand of industrial justice. He may of course look for guidance from many sources, yet his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. When the arbitrator's words manifest an infidelity to this obligation, courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award.
363 U.S. at 597; see also Randall v. Lodge No. 1076, Int'l Ass'n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, 648 F.2d 462, 465 (7th Cir. 1981) (noting that "the role of judicial review in the arbitration context is that the arbitrator's decision should not be upset unless it . . . fails to draw its essence from the collective bargaining contract because it exceeds the confines of interpreting and applying the contract."). Thus, it is now well established that an arbitration award will be enforced "so long as it 'draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement' even if the court thinks the arbitrator misconstrued the contract." Ethyl Corp., 768 F.2d at 184.
In Hill v. Norfolk & W. R.R. Co., the Seventh Circuit sketched the contours of judicial review of labor arbitration awards as follows:
The question for decision by a federal court asked to set aside an arbitration award . . . is not whether the arbitrator or arbitrators erred in interpreting the contract; it is not whether they clearly erred in interpreting the contract; it is not whether they grossly erred in interpreting the contract; it is whether they interpreted the contract. [citations omitted] If they did, their interpretation is conclusive. . . . A party can complain if the arbitrators don't interpret the contract that is, if they disregard the contract and implement their own notions of what is reasonable or fair. A party can complain if the arbitrators' decision is infected by fraud or other corruption, or if it orders an illegal act. But a party will not be heard to complain merely because the arbitrators' interpretation is a misinterpretation. Granted, the grosser the apparent misinterpretation, the likelier it is that the arbitrators weren't interpreting the contract at all. But once the court is satisfied that they were interpreting the contract, judicial review is at an end, provided there is no fraud or corruption and the arbitrators haven't ordered anyone to do an illegal act.