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UNION OF TEL. WORKERS v. NEW YORK TEL. CO.

December 28, 1964

UNION OF TELEPHONE WORKERS, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK TELEPHONE COMPANY, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRYAN

Plaintiff Union sues under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185, to compel arbitration of a labor dispute alleged to arise under a collective bargaining agreement. Defendant Company has refused to arbitrate, maintaining that there is no issue which is arbitrable under the agreement.

Both parties have moved for summary judgment. The pertinent facts are undisputed.

 The Union and the Company are both engaged in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of §§ 2 and 501 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 142, 152. The Union is the collective bargaining unit for employees of the Commercial and Headquarters Departments of the Company in the Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester and Long Island territories. On February 1, 1961 the Union and the Company entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering a wide range of aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including wages, hours and conditions of employment.

 The agreement contained a general arbitration clause (Article XIV) which insofar as pertinent here reads as follows:

 'Section 1. If at any time, a difference arises between the Union and the Company regarding the true intent and meaning of a provision of this Agreement or a question as to the performance of any obligation hereunder, a conference shall be held between a committee of the Board of Directors of the Union and a Management Committee of the Company, consisting of such representatives of the Company as may from time to time be designated for the purpose, in an effort to settle said differences. If, after such conference, the matter is not settled, either the Union or the Company may institute arbitration proceedings pursuant to the provisions of this Article to determine the issue in question, it being understood that the right to require arbitration extends only to those matters for which arbitration is expressly provided in this Article.'

 'Section 3. The arbitrator shall have no authority to add to, subtract from, or in any way modify the terms of the Agreement.'

 Article XIII of the agreement deals with grievance procedure. Under Section 2 of that Article grievances involving 'claimed contract violations, wages, hours, conditions of employment, or claims by employees of unfair, improper, or discriminatory treatment' are reviewable in a series of steps commencing at the Steward-Supervisor level and culminating in a General Review Board in which labor and management are equally represented. In the event of a tie in the Review Board the Union may demand arbitration under Article XIV of questions including (1) 'the true intent and meaning of a provision of this agreement or a question as to the performance of any obligation thereunder' (the precise language used in the arbitration clause); (2) a claim that a wage progression has been improperly withheld; (3) a claim that the Company acted in bad faith in selecting a regular employee for permanent involuntary transfer; and (4) certain claims that discharge or demotion for cause was without proper reason.

 The titles and occupational classifications of the employees covered in each department are separately listed in Appendix A to the agreement and, preceding each such list, Appendix A contains the following clause:

 'The following is a list of the existing titles and occupational classifications of all Commercial Department employees covered by this Agreement. It is agreed that there may not at all times be employees in the positions covered by all of these titles and classifications and conversely changing conditions or the needs of the business may warrant the establishment of additional titles or classifications. Accordingly, the Company may make additions to the present list of titles or classifications or changes in work assignment of any position on the list as in its judgment may become necessary. The Company will notify the Union of any such additions or of substantial changes in the work assignment of any existing position. The Company agrees to stand ready to negotiate wages and hours for any titles or classifications that may be added and the classification of existing titles for which the work assignment has been substantially changed.'

 Appendix B establishes the detailed wage scales and wage progressions applicable to each classification listed in Appendix A.

 Article I, § 2, of the agreement provides that the employees covered include not only all whose titles and classifications are set forth in Appendix A but also 'employees for whom additional titles and classifications are established in accordance with Appendix A' which is made 'a part hereof.'

 The present dispute concerns the wages payable to Representatives and Toll Service clerks whose titles and classifications were listed in Appendix A. During the term of the agreement the Company made changes in the work assignments of employees in these occupational classifications. For purposes of this action the Company concedes that the work changes were substantial. No change was made in the wages of the employees whose work assignments were altered.

 The employees involved contended that appropriate upward revisions in wages should have been made to compensate for what they claimed to be increased work load under the changed work assignments. Their claims were not presented as grievances under Article XIII of the agreement but the Union requested that the Company negotiate these wage questions under the last sentence of the clause in Appendix A by which the Company agreed 'to stand ready to negotiate wages and hours for * * * the classification of existing titles for which the work assignment has been substantially changed.'

 The Company agreed to negotiate. Negotiations were unsuccessful, however, since the Union and the Company were unable to agree and the wage rates in dispute remained unchanged.

 The Union then sought arbitration of the dispute under Article XIV, the arbitration clause. The Company refused to arbitrate and the Union brought this ...


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