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MINKOFF v. SCRANTON FROCKS

February 19, 1960

Application of Nathaniel M. MINKOFF, as Treasurer of Joint Board of Dress and Waistmakers' Union of Greater New York, an unincorporated association, Petitioner,
v.
SCRANTON FROCKS, INC., Richard Frocks, Inc., and Sherri Dress, Inc., Respondents, To confirm the award of Harry Uviller, Esq., as Arbitrator, rendered pursuant to the terms of an agreement between Scranton Frocks, Inc. and Dress Makers' Joint Council, dated April 18, 1958, and pursuant to the terms of an agreement between Richard Frocks, Inc. and Dress Makers' Joint Council, dated April 18, 1958



The opinion of the court was delivered by: METZNER

Petitioner (hereinafter called the 'Union') originally commenced a special proceeding in the Supreme Court of New York County to confirm an arbitration award rendered pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement between respondents (hereinafter called the 'Contractors') and Dress Makers' Joint Council. New York Civil Practice Act, § 1461. This agreement was made on April 18, 1958, and among other provisions, it incorporated by reference the industry collective bargaining agreement between Dress Makers' Joint Council and the United Popular Dress Manufacturers' Association.

Contractors removed the proceedings to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Subsequently the Union moved to remand to the state court and Judge Palmieri denied the motion (D.C., 172 F.Supp. 870), holding that this court had jurisdiction under Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a), to confirm the award of the arbitrator made pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement.

Contractors oppose the motion for confirmation on the following grounds: (1) the moving papers are incomplete, (2) the Union breached and abandoned the contract that contained the arbitration clause, (3) there was no arbitration hearing, and (4) the arbitration award compels the payment of monies by the Contractors, which would be in violation of Section 302 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 186.

 In Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills, 1957, 353 U.S. 448, 77 S. Ct. 912, 1 L. Ed. 2d 972, the court said:

 'Other courts -- the overwhelming number of them -- hold that § 301(a) is more than jurisdictional -- that it authorizes federal courts to fashion a body of federal law for the enforcement of these collective bargaining agreements and includes within that federal law specific performance of promises to arbitrate grievances under collective bargaining agreements. * * * That is our construction of § 301(a), which means that the agreement to arbitrate grievance disputes, contained in this collective bargaining agreement, should be specifically enforced.' 353 U.S. at pages 450, 451, 77 S. Ct. at page 914.

 Following the decision of the Supreme Court in Lincoln Mills, supra, the Court of Appeals for this circuit in Engineers Ass'n v. Sperry Gyroscope Co., 2 Cir., 1957, 251 F.2d 133, said:

 'The section [ § 301] does not contain any guides for decision, and therefore, limited only by the policy of our national labor laws, we must fashion the applicable rules from other sources. 'State law, if compatible with the purposes of § 301, may be resorted to in order to find the rule that will best effectuate the federal policy.' * * * Also, we may look to the Federal Arbitration Act which, though not binding upon us in suits brought under Section 301, * * * does provide a 'guiding analogy." 251 F.2d at page 136. *fn1"

 Prior to the Lincoln Mills decision, the Court of Appeals for this circuit, on a motion to stay a suit for damages under a collective bargaining agreement because of the existence of an arbitration clause, held that Section 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C., furnished the law for the proceeding. Signal-Stat Corp. v. Local 475, 2 Cir., 1956, 235 F.2d 298. In any event, Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act and Section 1462 of the New York Civil Practice Act have essentially the same grounds for objections to the confirmation of an arbitrator's award. Reference is made to the latter section not only because of the language in the Engineers Ass'n case, supra, but because of the wording in Paragraph 52 of the collective bargaining agreement, which states that the decision rendered by the Impartial Chairman:

 'shall have the effect of a judgment entered upon an award made, as provided by the Arbitration Laws of the State of New York, entitling the entry of judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction against the defaulting party who fails to carry out or abide by (his decision).'

 The Contractors' first objection that the moving papers are incomplete is frivolous in the extreme and warrants little comment. Both the arbitrator's award and the collective bargaining agreements are part of the moving papers before this court by reference to the exhibits attached to the moving papers submitted to the state court where this proceeding was originally instituted. Copies of all those papers were served on the Contractors. They have been filed with this court pursuant to the order of removal, and it would serve little purpose to require them to be set forth in extenso again to add to the already voluminous papers before the court on this motion.

 The Contractors' second ground for opposing this motion is that there was no contract in force upon which the award could be founded. They assert that a strike which the Union called on June 24, 1958 was a breach of the contract which freed the Contractors from any further obligations thereunder.

 The contract provides that:

 'In the event of a substantial violation of this clause (no-strike clause) on the part of the Union, the Association shall have the option to terminate this agreement. The existence or non-existence of such substantial violation shall be determined by the Impartial Chairman on all the facts and circumstances.' Paragraph 51, Collective Agreement, United Popular Dress Manufacturers' Association with I.L.G.W.U. and Dress Makers' Joint Council.

 If the Union breached the agreement by calling a strike, the Contractors' remedy was to proceed to arbitration. This is what they contracted to do. A possible alternative was to give notice that they were exercising their option to terminate the agreement. Whether the Union could have successfully moved to compel arbitration of the efficacy of such a notice pursuant to the above quoted paragraph is a matter that need not be discussed at this time. See 8 Syracuse Law Rev. 243. Contractors took neither step, but rather engaged with some of their employees in picketing the ...


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