Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division.
Before COFFEY, RIPPLE, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.
Robert L. Miller, Jr., Judge.
ARGUED SEPTEMBER 11, 1996
DECIDED NOVEMBER 26, 1996
Heritage Cable Vision Associates, a limited partnership, runs TCI of Michiana, a cable television system in northern Indiana. Local 1393 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, is the exclusive collective bargaining representative for installers and technicians employed by TCI at its Elkhart, Mishawaka, and Rochester, Indiana, facilities. Glenn Atchley and the remaining 67 individual plaintiffs in this case are installers and technicians represented by Local 1393 and employed by TCI at those locations. We'll refer to all the plaintiffs, collectively, as Local 1393.
From August until November 1994, Local 1393 and TCI negotiated over a new collective bargaining agreement. On November 28, 1994, TCI presented Local 1393 with a final offer, which included a wage hike of 40 cents per hour for employees who were members of the bargaining unit on the date of ratification. The offer, eventually memorialized as Article 7(B) in the finalized collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"), read:
All employees in unit as of the date of ratification, shall receive an across-the-board increase of 40 cents per hour effective the first payroll period following ratification and on 9/16/95, except that employees hired between 9/16/94 and date of ratification, inclusive, shall receive a 40 cents per hour increase upon conclusion of their probationary period and on 9/16/95. In addition, TCI orally agreed to pay a $100 ratification bonus to each employee who was a member of the bargaining unit on the date of ratification.
The members of Local 1393 ratified TCI's final offer on December 8, 1994, and on the next day Local 1393 informed TCI of the ratification. TCI's counsel sent Local 1393 a draft contract for review, with a cover letter stating that "[a]s soon as the document is finalized and executed by the Union, TCI will process the wage increases and ratification bonus of $100.00, less applicable payroll taxes."
The first pay period following ratification began December 10, 1994. On December 19, 1994, Local 1393 demanded that TCI pay the wage increases and ratification bonuses. Neither were included in the paychecks issued on December 23 for the pay period beginning December 10.
Article 4 of the CBA, as both ratified and signed, contains a three-step grievance procedure: (1) presentation of the grievance to the immediate supervisor; (2) if not satisfactorily resolved in step 1, presentment to the general manager and/or the director of engineering; and (3) if still not satisfactorily resolved, submission within 30 days to the American Arbitration Association for binding arbitration.
On January 9, 1995, union steward Thomas Myers filed a grievance alleging that TCI failed to pay the wage increases and bonuses as agreed between the parties in the ratified proposal. The remedy sought was "10 percent per day interest on all wages and bonus money not paid as agreed." Although the grievance was denied, TCI decided not to wait for execution of the formal CBA and on January 20, 1995, it paid the wage increases, retroactive to December 10, 1994. Myers advanced the grievance to step 2 of the grievance procedure on January 23, 1995. Again, it was denied. The union did not advance the grievance to the final step, binding arbitration.
TCI signed the final draft of the CBA on January 23, 1995, and Local 1393 executed the agreement on February 6, 1995. The CBA ran from the date of ratification, ...