The opinion of the court was delivered by: PALMIERI
This is a motion by the President of the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, AFL-CIO (hereinafter Union), an unincorporated labor organization, to compel arbitration of twelve
grievances between members of various locals of the parent union and the General Electric Company (hereinafter Company). The action was originally commenced in the New York State Supreme Court by service of a verified petition and notice of motion. N.Y. Civil Practice Act §§ 1448-1469. It was removed to this court by respondent. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1446. The Company is engaged in an industry affecting commerce and federal jurisdiction is based on Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185.
between the Union and the Company provides for arbitration of any grievance involving the interpretation or application of a provision of the agreement which remains unsettled after having been fully processed pursuant to the grievance procedure.
The petition alleges that all the grievances involve interpretation or application of the agreement between the parent Union and the Company, and that some involve interpretation or application of local supplements to which the parent agreement is subject. Respondent objects to arbitration of these grievances on a number of grounds disposition of which requires resolution of the following questions: whether the action is to be governed by New York or Federal law; whether arbitration of certain grievances is barred by failure to comply with procedural requirements of the grievance and arbitration provisions; whether certain of the grievances do involve interpretation or application of the agreement; whether certain of the grievances are excluded from arbitration by other provisions of the agreement; and whether disputes that involve matters actually or potentially within the scope of the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board may be determined by arbitration.
The labor philosophy that forms the framework for the resolution of some of these questions was given expression by the Supreme Court in Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills of Alabama, 353 U.S. 448, 77 S. Ct. 912, 1 L. Ed. 2d 972 (1957), and in its more recent decision in the Steelworker cases. United Steelworkers v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 80 S. Ct. 1343, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1403 (1960); United Steelworkers, etc. v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 575, 80 S. Ct. 1347, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409 (1960); United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960).
Although section 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act does not set forth the law to be applied in actions for violation of collective bargaining agreements, the Supreme Court in Lincoln Mills held that suits under section 301 are to be governed by federal law and that that law is to be fashioned by the federal courts from the national labor policy.
The federal law to be applied in suits to compel arbitration was formulated by the Supreme Court in broad and emphatic terms in its landmark decisions in the Steelworker cases.
The result of these cases, as stated by one labor law authority, now a judge of this Circuit, was to 'uphold the arbitrator in the exercise of the broadest jurisdiction in the absence of special contractual limitations on that jurisdiction.' Hays, The Supreme Court and Labor Law October Term, 1959, 60 Colum.L.Rev. 901, 920 (1960).
In these cases the Court developed at some length its views that collective bargaining agreements are different from contracts generally, that arbitration of labor disputes serves a different function from arbitration of commercial disputes, and that in view of these considerations the judicial attitude in interpreting arbitration provisions in collective bargaining agreements should be one favoring arbitration where the contract permits of such an interpretation. Thus, the Court stated:
'A collective bargaining agreement is an effort to create a system of industrial self-government. * * * The grievance machinery under a collective bargaining agreement is at the very heart of the system of industrial self-government. Arbitration is the means of solving the unforeseeable by molding a system of private law for all the problems which may arise and to provide for their solution in a way which will generally accord with the variant needs and desires of the parties. The processing of disputes through the grievance machinery is actually a vehicle by which meaning and content are given to the collective bargaining agreement.'
In Warrior, supra, the Court quoted from Cox, Reflections Upon Labor Arbitration, 72 Harv.L.Rev. 1482, 1498-1499 (1959), as follows:
'* * * It is not unqualifiedly true that a collective-bargaining agreement is simply a document by which the union and employees have imposed upon management limited, express restrictions of its otherwise absolute right to manage the enterprise, so that an employee's claim must fail unless he can point to a specific contract provision upon which the claim is founded. There are too many people, too many problems, too many unforeseeable contingencies to make the words of the contract the exclusive source of rights and duties. One cannot reduce all the rules governing a community like an industrial plant to fifteen or even fifty pages. Within the sphere of collective bargaining, the institutional characteristics and the governmental nature of the collective-bargaining process demand a common law of the shop which implements and furnishes the context of the agreement. We must assume that intelligent negotiators acknowledged so plain a need unless they stated a contrary rule in plain words.' 363 U.S. at 579-580, 80 S. Ct. at 1351.
Respondent contends, however, that the philosophy reflected in the Steelworker cases and the rules developed by the federal courts in construing arbitration agreements do not apply in the instant case because the collective bargaining agreement between it and petitioner specifically provides that it is to be governed by New York law. The recent decision of the Supreme Court in Local 174, Teamsters, etc. v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95, 82 S. Ct. 571, 7 L. Ed. 2d 593 (1962), makes it unnecessary to consider this contention at any length. In the Lucas case the Court held that state courts adjudicating disputes within the purview of section 301 must apply federal law. The Court said:
'The dimensions of § 301 require the conclusion that substantive principles of federal labor law must be paramount in the area covered by the statute. Comprehensiveness is inherent in the process by which the law is to be formulated under the mandate of Lincoln Mills, requiring issues raised in suits of a kind covered by § 301 to be decided according to the precepts of federal labor policy.' 369 U.S. 103, 82 S. Ct. 576.
Thus New York courts are now bound by federal law in actions within the purview of section 301. Had the instant case continued in the New York courts, 'incompatible doctrines of local law (would have had to) give way to principles of federal labor law.' Id. at p. 102, 82 S. Ct. at p. 576. Clearly, it must also be governed by federal law here.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Union and the Company provides for a three step grievance procedure culminating in arbitration of any unsettled grievance which involves 'the interpretation or application of a provision' of the agreement. The procedure, in pertinent part, is as follows:
'Grievances other than those of a general nature may be processed only by recourse to the following successive steps:
'(1) Within a reasonable time after the occurrence or knowledge of the situation, condition or action of Management giving rise to the grievance, the employee affected thereby or his Steward may present the grievance to the employee's Foreman or other immediate supervisor.
'Any grievance, having been processed through Step Two without satisfactory settlement, may be referred to the National Officers of the Union for submission to an Executive Officer of the Company or his designated representative, who shall arrange meetings for the purpose of discussing such grievances.
'Such grievances shall be submitted to the Company not less than two weeks prior to the date of any discussion and not more than three months after the completion of discussions and the final decision of local Management at Step Two.