Appeal from order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Kevin T. Duffy, J., enjoining arbitration of grievances asserted by unions. Reversed and remanded with instructions.
Before: FEINBERG, VAN GRAAFEILAND and CARDAMONE
Defendants Local Unions 295 and 851, both affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Frank Calise and Mark Davidoff (collectively referred to hereafter as the Unions) appeal from an order of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Kevin T. Duffy, J., granting the application of plaintiff-appellee Emery Air Freight Corporation (Emery) to enjoin an arbitration sought by the Unions and denying the Unions' application for an order compelling Emery to arbitrate certain disputes with them. The principal issue raised by the appeal is whether the expiration of the collective bargaining agreements between the parties justified the order of the district court. For reasons set forth below, we reverse that order and remand with instructions.
In late October 1985, Emery brought this action under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, seeking injunctive relief against arbitrations demanded by the Unions earlier that month. The background of the dispute leading up to those demands is as follows. Emery is engaged in the business of express delivery. For more than 10 years, Locals 295 and 851 have been the exclusive bargaining representatives of Emery's drivers, dockmen, messengers and clericals in the New York metropolitan area. Calise and Davidoff are officers of Local 295 and Local 851, respectively. The Locals are parties to separate three-year collective bargaining agreements (the Agreements) with Emery, which commenced on September 1, 1982.
The provisions of the Agreements relevant to this appeal are identical. Each contains a broad Arbitration Clause, which provides in pertinent part:
Should any dispute or grievance arise between the Employer and the Union, as to the meaning, import and application of, or compliance with the provisions of the Agreement, or should any grievance of dispute arise as between the Employer and the Union, such dispute or grievance shall be settled . . . .
through a multi-step grievance and arbitration procedure culminating in "final and binding" arbitration by the Impartial Chairman named in the Agreements, Stanley Aiges, who is a nominal defendant in this action.
The Agreements also contain a Maintenance of Standards provision, which states:
The employer agrees that all conditions of employment in his individual operation relating to wages, hours of work, overtime differentials and general work conditions shall be maintained at no less than the highest standards in effect. The Employer further agrees that it will in no way seek to enforce of impose any subsequent agreement or Master Agreement affecting the air freight industry which will reduce any of the standards established by this Agreement.
There are also various provisions in the Agreements that protect the job security of union members in various ways; e.g., by recognition of the Unions as the exclusive bargaining representatives, by barring subcontracting, by requiring union membership after 30 days of employment and by describing which Emery operations are governed by the Agreements.
In anticipation of the expiration of the Agreements on August 31, 1985, negotiations for their renewal began in mid-July 1985. Claiming that competitive conditions justified its position, Emery sought a number of substantial contractual changes including layoff of approximately 75 bargaining unit employees, introduction of part-time employees and two-tier wage structure and reduction of various economic benefits, including holidays and sick leave. The Unions characterized these concessions as "give-backs." A number of bargaining sessions were held before August 31, 1985, but the parties were unable to reach agreement. The bargaining was acrimonious, with the Unions threatening to strike if Emery insisted on all the give-backs. Emery indicated that it intended to operate during a strike, and, as the district court found, "during the month of August 1985" began "training employees of an outside contractor to handle Emery's business should a strike later occur."
After August 31, 1985, the parties continued to bargain but remained far apart on certain key issues. Emery continued to operate and there was as yet no strike. The Unions claim that a negotiating session on September 22, they raised a grievance regarding the use of "secret workers" but that Emery refused requests to reveal the names of the workers involved or where they worked. In this court, Emery disputes the Union's characterization of these events, which Emery describes as an agreement with a stand-by ...