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Service Employees International Union, Local 1 v. Wackenhut Corp.

March 13, 2006

SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 1 PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE WACKENHUT CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Service Employees International Union, Local 1, brought this action under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, to enforce a Joint Arbitration Board ("JAB") decision affecting the wages and representational unit of The Wackenhut Corporation employees assigned to perform security services at two Chicago locations: 10 South Canal and 85 West Congress (collectively, the AT&T buildings). The JAB decision ordered Wackenhut to apply the terms of the Downtown Collective Bargaining Agreement to the employees at the AT&T buildings. Because Wackenhut did not file timely suit to vacate the JAB's award, its defenses to the enforceability of the award are barred and the award is final.

Factual and Procedural Background

Wackenhut and Local 1 have been parties to several collective bargaining agreements including the "Downtown Collective Bargaining Agreement" and the "Suburban Collective Bargaining Agreement." Defendant's Rule 56.1 Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Def.'s Resp.") ¶¶ 1, 4. Each of these agreements provided that grievances not settled between the parties shall be submitted to a Joint Arbitration Board. Def.'s Resp. ¶ 5. The composition of the JAB and the definition of the issues grievable differed slightly under each agreement. Def.'s Resp. ¶ 5.*fn1

In August 1999, the parties entered into the Suburban CBA; the agreement covered "[t]hat area of Chicago bounded by Roosevelt Road on the South, Lake Michigan on the East, Halsted Street on the West, and Division Street on the North." Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Def.'s Stmt."), Ex. 1A. The initial term of the Suburban Agreement lasted from August 1, 1999 to December 31, 2001. Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Response to Defendant's Statement of Undisputed Facts ("Pl.'s Resp.") ¶ 7. Upon expiration, the parties agreed to extend the Suburban CBA subject to each party's right to terminate the agreement upon 72 hours notice. Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 9. The parties disagree on whether the arbitration provisions of that agreement were extended as well. Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 11. On July 29, 2003, Local 1 terminated the Suburban CBA. Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 13. Following the termination of the Suburban CBA, Wackenhut continued to pay its employees at the AT&T buildings in accordance with the terms of that agreement. Pl.'s Resp. ¶ 15.

In February 2002, the parties signed the Downtown CBA. Pl.'s Stmt., Ex. A. The Downtown CBA contains the following Recognition Clause: "The jurisdictional area covered by this agreement is defined as all commercial office buildings north of Roosevelt Road, east of Halsted Street, and south of Division Street, including those commercial office buildings outside the above area specifically described in Schedule A and B." Def.'s Resp. ¶ 2. Although not listed in either Schedule A or B, the AT&T buildings are located within the bounded region described in the Recognition Clause. Pl.'s Stmt., Ex. A at 24-27, 32-34. The Downtown CBA effective dates were April 23, 2001 through April 25, 2004. Pl.'s Stmt., Ex. A at 2.

On November 5, 2003, Local 1 filed two grievances pursuant to the Downtown CBA protesting Wackenhut's failure to pay area standard wages and benefits at the AT&T buildings. Def.'s Resp. ¶ 7. Local 1's grievances arose from a dispute as to whether the security service employees in the AT&T buildings were covered by the Suburban CBA, as Wackenhut contended, or the Downtown CBA, as Local 1 contended. Pl.'s Resp. ¶¶ 8, 18, 19. The grievances were processed through the parties' grievance procedure and, when no resolution was reached during these earlier stages of the process, Local 1 presented the grievances to the JAB on January 14, 2004. Def.'s Resp. ¶ 8. On that day, the JAB issued the following decision:

On January 14, 2004 an Arbitration Hearing was held with regards to [10 South Canal and 85 West Congress]. It is the Arbitration Boards unanimous decision that Wackenhut shall convert these sites to the appropriate contract, which is the Wackenhut Downtown Agreement. This conversion shall take effect February 1, 2004. All employees building seniority dates will carry into the downtown contract benefit level.

This is a final and binding arbitration decision per our Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Pl.'s Stmt., Ex. F. Since the decision issued, Wackenhut has neither complied with the JAB's decision, Def.'s Resp. ¶ 11, nor filed suit to vacate it. Def.'s Resp. ¶12.

DISCUSSION

Local 1 brought this action under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act to enforce the JAB's award against Wackenhut. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are now before the Court. Because no material issue of fact exists that Wackenhut failed to file a timely suit to vacate the JAB's award, and because the statute of limitations bar does not except challenges based on the arbitrability of a dispute -- that is, the jurisdiction or authority of the arbitrator over the parties or their grievance -- Local 1 is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Parties' Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment

Wackenhut moves for dismissal of Local 1's enforcement action on several grounds, each based on Wackenhut's assertion that the security service employees at the AT&T buildings were subject to the Suburban CBA and not the Downtown CBA. First and foremost, Wackenhut argues that the JAB did not have the authority or the jurisdiction to arbitrate the grievances because they did not arise under the Downtown CBA. Wackenhut also presents this argument as a question regarding the "arbitrability" of the grievances. Second, the JAB's decision wrongly "converted" the AT&T building employees from the Suburban CBA to the Downtown CBA. Finally, the Court lacks jurisdiction over this controversy ...


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