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PAPERHANDLERS UNION NO. 1 v. U.S. TRUCKING CORP.

September 12, 1977

PAPERHANDLERS UNION NO. 1, INTERNATIONAL PRINTING PRESSMEN & ASSISTANTS UNION, AFL-CIO, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. TRUCKING CORPORATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY

MEMORANDUM OPINION

 CONSTANCE BAKER MOTLEY, D.J.

 In this action under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, the court is being asked for the third time to grant summary judgment for plaintiff, this time vacating an Arbitrator's award and remanding the matter to the Arbitrator for further proceedings. Specifically, plaintiff asks that the Arbitrator be directed to clarify the set-off provision of his original award dated February 27, 1973 and indicate what specific monetary amounts, if any, are due and owing its employees. For the reasons which follow, the motion for summary judgment is granted.

 Federal labor law embraces the policy of finality in labor disputes. L.M.R.A. §§ 201, 203 (d), 29 U.S.C. §§ 171, 173 (d). One of the specific functions of arbitration is to settle disputes between employer and employee amicably and quickly, without extensive judicial intervention. When courts have been called upon to review labor arbitration awards, they have promoted this need for finality. See e.g., United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 566, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1403, 80 S. Ct. 1343 (1960); United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409, 80 S. Ct. 1347 (1960); United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 599, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960). "[Repetitive] Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 599, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960). "[Repetitive] submission . . . of the same grievance" has been found to jeopardize the "harmony sought by arbitration." Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America, Local 15, AFL-CIO, 242 F. Supp. 606, 611 (D.N.J. 1965). See also Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, Local 35 v. Washington Post Co., 143 U.S.App. D.C. 210, 442 F.2d 1234, 1238 (1971).

 Harmony has certainly not been achieved in the case at bar. This dispute has been before both the Arbitrator and the court three times since 1973. That such a protraction of the dispute is contrary to the finality sought in labor arbitration is obvious. This court will therefore attempt to resolve the issues before it once again, so as to effectuate federal policy and relieve the parties of any further need to seek judicial clarification of their rights and obligations. In order to do so, a full description of the facts and the arbitral and judicial history is required.

 FACTS

 Pursuant to the arbitration provision of a collective bargaining agreement between the union (Paperhandlers Union No. 1, International Printing Pressmen & Assistants Union, AFL-CIO) (Plaintiff) and employer (U.S. Trucking Corporation) (Defendant), a dispute concerning entitlement to severance pay for certain members of Plaintiff union was referred to an Arbitrator designated by the American Arbitration Association. The pertinent arbitration provision reads as follows:

 
Section 29. In case of a disagreement between the Employer and the Union regarding the interpretation or application of the terms of this agreement which cannot be settled amicably . . . there shall be an impartial person acceptable to the Union and the Employer . .. whose decision shall be final and binding upon all parties to this agreement.

 Section 23 of the collective bargaining agreement controlled entitlement to severance pay:

 
In the event of merger, consolidation, or permanent suspension of the employer covered by this Agreement, all regular situation holders with one year or more service as regular situation holders who by virtue of the merger, consolidation or permanent suspension are deprived of regular situations, shall receive the cash equivalent of eight weeks' (40) shifts pay at their current rate in addition to any accumulated vacation credits or any other money due them. (emphasis supplied).

 The subject employees were employed by Defendant at Pier 46, New York City. When the pier was destroyed by fire in July of 1972, Defendant suspended operations, *fn1" and the dispute as to severance pay was referred to the Arbitrator. His findings of fact included (1) that five *fn2" subject employees had worked for the employer at least one year; (2) that therefore the employer was liable under § 23; and (3) that if they were deprived of regular situations as a result of the suspension, they were entitled to receive up to eight weeks' severance pay.

 The Arbitrator's award, rendered February 27, 1973, granted the five employees the relief sought, subject to a set-off provision to the extent they had earnings during the "eight weeks after cessation of their jobs . . . if working at regular situations at other jobs." (emphasis supplied). Defendant refused to pay, asserting that the employees were not entitled to any severance pay because they had earnings during the eight weeks following cessation of operations. *fn3" Plaintiff's contention was that since they had worked only as "casuals" rather than at "regular situations" during that time, they were entitled to payment.

 On Plaintiff's motion, this court, on January 21, 1974, ordered a remand to the Arbitrator for clarification of the set-off provision. In its Memorandum Opinion and Order, the court stated that "there are no genuine issues of material facts. The only legal issue is whether or not the set-off provision of the Arbitrator's Award . .. is in need of clarification. The court finds the phrase 'regular situations' as used in the award ambiguous."

 On remand, after a full hearing between the parties, the Arbitrator's Clarification of Award, dated July 24, 1974, confirmed his original award and defined "regular situation holders" as synonymous with "Regular Paper Handlers", *fn4" i.e., as "permanent employees, who worked 160 or more shifts in the industry in the previous year and are on a regular seniority list, and are not casual employee [sic]." The Arbitrator further clarified the set-off provision, per order of the court, as follows:

 
2. In order for the set-off provisions to apply the employees involved had to find permanent employment, and not work as casuals or shape up employees. (emphasis supplied).

 When Defendant again refused to pay, on the same grounds previously advanced, Plaintiff again moved to confirm the award, or, alternatively, to remand to the Arbitrator for further clarification. This court's order of January 17, 1975, reads in pertinent part as follows:

 
Insofar as the parties are unsure as to what their obligations under the clarified award are, the award is remanded to the Arbitrator for further clarification. In particular, the clarified award should indicate what specific ...

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