The opinion of the court was delivered by: RUBEN CASTILLO
Plaintiff Judsen Rubber Works, Inc. ("Judsen") seeks to vacate a labor arbitration award in favor of defendant Manufacturing, Production and Service Workers Union Local No. 24 ("Local 24") pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 185. Local 24 counterclaims for enforcement of the arbitration award. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, are presently before the court.
The following undisputed facts are gleaned from the parties' respective Local Rule 12 statements of material facts and accompanying exhibits.
The underlying dispute in this case arose in July 1993 when Judsen changed its policy concerning wash-up, clean-up and punchout time. Article VIII of the CBA specifies the conditions under which employees are entitled to receive overtime pay; it provides that "for all hours worked in excess of eight (8) hours worked in any work day, for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours worked in any work week, and for all hours worked on Sunday during shifts commencing on or after 12:01 a.m." employees will receive overtime pay. Pl.'s 12(M) Facts P 6. Although not mentioned in Article VIII, Judsen had a long-standing policy of allowing employees to stop working and use the last ten or fifteen minutes prior to the end of a regularly scheduled shift for wash-up purposes. Pl.'s 12(M) Facts P 7. Regardless of whether the employees used this time to wash-up or not, Judsen automatically paid 3/4 of an hour overtime compensation per week to all employees. Id. This practice was followed for at least 24 years
prior to the execution of the CBA, but was not mentioned, referenced or otherwise alluded to in the CBA. Id.
On July 6, 1993, Judsen unilaterally ended the practice of paying employees the automatic weekly overtime pay, although Judsen still allowed its employees to use the last ten or fifteen minutes prior to the end of the shift to wash-up.
Pl.'s 12(M) Facts P 10. On July 19, 1993, Local 24 filed a grievance alleging that Judsen violated the CBA through its unilateral termination of the wash-up policy. Pl.'s 12(M) Facts P 11. Pursuant to the terms of the CBA, the grievance proceeded to arbitration, and Arbitrator Edwin H. Benn (the "arbitrator") held that Judsen violated the CBA when it unilaterally terminated its practice of paying overtime for wash-up. Opinion and Award at 6.
Accordingly, the arbitrator ordered Judsen to reinstate the practice and make whole all employees affected by the change. Id. at 8.
In reaching his conclusion, the arbitrator relied on United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior and Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409, 80 S. Ct. 1347 (1960), for the proposition that "bona fide past practices rise to the level of explicit terms of the Agreement." Opinion and Award at 6. The arbitrator concluded that Judsen's practice of paying weekly overtime to employees for wash-up constituted a bona fide past practice, and therefore, carried the force of an explicit contractual provision of the collective bargaining agreement. Id. The arbitrator rejected Judsen's argument that Article VIII clearly and unambiguously provides the circumstances under which employees may receive overtime pay, and that past practice therefore cannot be used to imply a contractual term. Id. at 7. In rejecting this argument, the arbitrator stated that the ambiguity vel non of Article VIII was not the issue in this case:
The question in this dispute is whether the long-standing practice . . . is part of the Agreement irrespective of other provisions of the Agreement. As discussed above, this practice which has existed for 24 years is clearly part of the Agreement. That "clause" is not ambiguous.
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 ...