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Torrington Co. v. Metal Products Workers Union Local 1645

June 24, 1965

TORRINGTON COMPANY, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
METAL PRODUCTS WORKERS UNION LOCAL 1645, UAW-AFL-CIO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Author: Hays

Before MOORE, SMITH, and HAYS, Circuit Judges.

HAYS, C. J.:

In this action plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that three grievances on which defendants demanded arbitration were not arbitrable. The district court granted a motion by the defendants for summary judgment and for an order compelling arbitration of the grievances. 237 F. Supp. 139 (D. Conn. 1965). In its order the district court "found" (but did not "order") that "all the disputes between the parties, including the existence, scope and effect of an . . . alleged independent oral agreement between them should be resolved in arbitration rather than by this Court." Since arbitration with respect to the oral agreement was not sought by either party and since both parties appeal from that part of the order which grants this relief, we will disregard the "finding" as mere surplusage.

The plaintiff appeals from all parts of the district court's order. The defendants cross-appeal, not only from the "finding" which we have decided to disregard, but also from the denial of defendants' motions to strike certain parts of the plaintiff's affidavits and from the failure "to declare, that under the parties' collective bargaining agreement, any grievance that is not explicitly excluded from arbitration by a written provision of the agreement is subject to arbitration on the merits."

We reverse the order granting summary judgment for the defendants and compelling arbitration of the defendants' grievances. We dismiss the defendants' cross-appeal on the ground that the points raised are not appealable.

The present controversy arises out of a sixteen week strike at the plaintiff's plant. On January 18, 1964 the plaintiff (Company) and the defendant Local Union (Union) entered into a collective bargaining agreement and terminated the strike. At that time there were approximately 2000 employees of the Company on strike. One of the problems facing the parties in their task of restoring the plant to its normal operations was the order of recall of employees. According to the Company's affidavits the Union proposed that the procedures provided by the new collective bargaining agreement for recall from layoff be applied to the return of the strikers. The Company rejected this proposal. The Company says that the Union then proposed that the Company permit all strikers to return to work and then lay off the unneeded employees in accordance with the seniority provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The Company also rejected this proposal. The Company maintains that it and the Union thereupon agreed that the Company was to recall strikers in accordance with production requirements and without regard to any of the provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement. This agreement, says the Company, contained no provision for the arbitration of disputes arising under it. The Union denies that any such special agreement for the return of strikers was ever entered into.

At various times within a few weeks after the end of the strike, the Union filed three grievances. Each of the grievances had to do with the recall of a striking employee. The parties followed the contractual procedure for the adjustment of grievances but failed to adjust these controversies in the course of that procedure. The Union then demanded arbitration. The Company declined to arbitrate, claiming that it was under no duty to arbitrate controversies over recall of strikers. The Union's position is that the arbitration provisions of the collective agreement are applicable.

The relevant parts of the collective bargaining agreement are:

"ARTICLE IV

Grievance Procedure

Section 1.

Any dispute or question in regard to wages, hours, and working conditions, or in regard to the interpretation or application of any of the provisions of this agreement, shall be subject to the following grievance procedure: * * *

ARTICLE V

Arbitrat ...


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