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Washington Heights-West Harlem-Inwood Mental Health Council v. District 1199

November 15, 1984

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS-WEST HARLEM-INWOOD MENTAL HEALTH COUNCIL INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DISTRICT 1199, NATIONAL UNION OF HOSPITAL AND HEALTH CARE EMPLOYEES, RWDSU, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



District 1199, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees, appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, granting summary judgment and vacating an arbitration award upon the motion of Washington Heights-West Harlem-Inwood Mental Health Council. Reversed and remanded.

Author: Feinberg

Before:

FEINBERG, Chief Judge, MANSFIELD and KEARSE, Circuit Judges.

FEINBERG, Chief Judge:

District 1199, National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (the Union) appeals from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Robert W. Sweet, J., granting summary judgment and vacating an arbitration award upon the motion of Washington Heights-West Harlem-Inwood Mental Health Council (the Council). The arbitration award, issued in January 1983, directed the Countil to reinstate Edward Lane, a discharged employee, with full back pay. We reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case for further proceedings.

I.

The Council and the Union were parties to a two-year collective bargaining agreement that expired by its own terms on December 31, 1980. Negotiations for a successor contract began in late 1980, and in April 1981, the parties appeared to reach agreement on the terms of a new contract, which was to cover the period from January 1, 1981, to June 30, 1982. The Union was to prepare the written text of the new agreement.

The Union first submitted a draft of that text to the Council in December 1981. In the interim, and indeed through June 30, 1982, the Council largely adhered to the terms of the new, apparent agreement. Among other things, the Council implemented a retroactive wage increase, remitted dues to the Union, submitted payroll reports and made monthly contributions to the benefit fund. In addition, grievances were processed and disputes were submitted to arbitration.

On January 18, 1982, the Council wrote to the Union seeking changes in the December 1981 draft; none of the changes concerned grievance and arbitration procedures. Meanwhile, in early January 1982, Lane had received a letter of reprimand, in April 1982, he was suspended and then terminated. With regard to both the disciplinary warning and the discharge, the Union invoked the grievance procedure and then sought arbitration. The cases were consolidated, the parties agreed on an arbitrator, and after one postponement a hearing was scheduled for August 4, 1982.

On June 16, 1982, the Union delivered a second draft of the contract to the Council, and on July 26 the parties met to resolve remaining problems with that draft. On August 3, 1982, the Union submitted a third draft to the Council.

On August 4, 1982, before the hearing in the Lane dispute began, the arbitrator recused himself because one of the Union's representatives had questioned his impartiality. The next day, the Council notified the Union's attorney by letter that it refused to participate further in the Lane arbitration because, it believed, no agreement to arbitrate existed. In November 1982, the successor arbitrator held a hearing, which the Council did not attend. On January 7, 1983, the arbitrator issued her opinion and award, directing the Council to reinstate Lane with full back pay.

On January 12, 1983, the Union submitted a fourth contract draft to the Council. None of the four drafts was ever signed by either party.

On January 19, 1983, the Council filed an unfair labor practices charge with the National Labor Relations Board (the Board), charging that the Union had failed to reduce the terms of the negotiated agreement to writing. The Board's Regional Director dismissed the charge, and the Council, pursuant to section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 185, commenced this action to vacate the arbitration award. The Union counterclaimed under that Act to confirm the award, and both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the ...


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