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Dresser Rand Co. v. United Steel Workers of America AFL-CIO CLC

November 21, 2006

DRESSER RAND COMPANY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA AFL-CIO CLC AN UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATION, UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL 4601 AFL-CIO, CLC, LEO W. GERARD INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT OF UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA AFL-CIO CLC, JOHN J. BAGLIONE, JR. PRESIDENT OF UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL 4601 AFL CIO CLC, ANTHONY JURENKO VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL 4601 AFL CIO CLC, PAT KELLY GRIEVANCE CHAIR AND FINANCIAL SECRETARY OF UNITED STEEL WORKERS OF AMERICA LOCAL 4601 AFL-CIO CLC, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This labor case is before the Court on plaintiff's motion (# 24) for summary judgment*fn1 and defendants' cross-motion (# 33) also seeking summary judgment. In its complaint, plaintiff contends that defendants breached a "no strike" provision of the collective bargaining agreement among the parties. For the reasons stated below, plaintiff's motion is granted in part and denied in part, and defendants' motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Dresser Rand Company ("Dresser Rand") operates a facility in Olean, New York, at which it manufactures and tests compressors that are primarily used in the oil and gas industry. (Pl.'s Statement of Facts ¶¶ 1 & 2.) A compressor is made to a customer's specifications and the applicable contract requires Dresser Rand to test the completed compressor in the presence of a representative of the customer. (Id. ¶¶ 3 & 4.) Accordingly, a test date is generally arranged weeks in advance and the production schedule must accommodate that date, since its rescheduling would postpone the necessary testing beyond the date delivery required under the contract. (Id. ¶ 4.) Dresser Rand is concerned that if its customers believe that a dispute between Dresser Rand and its unionized workforce could result in a delay in delivery of the finished product, the customers will turn to Dresser Rand's competitors. (Id. ¶ 5.) Defendants dispute this concern, contending no evidence in support of Dresser Rand's contention has been produced.

The union, United Steelworkers of America A.F.L.-C.I.O., CLC ("International"), through United Steelworkers of America Local 4601 A.F.L.-C.I.I., CLC ("Local"), represents Dresser Rand's production and maintenance employees at the Olean facility. (Id. ¶ 6.) The collective bargaining agreement between the International*fn2 and Dresser Rand, provides in pertinent part as follows:

Should differences arise between the Company and the Union as to the meaning and application of the provision of this agreement, or should any problems or grievances of any kind arise in the plants, there shall be no suspension of work on account of such differences, but such differences shall be adjusted in the following manner:

In the event the dispute shall not have been satisfactorily settled,., the matter shall be submitted to arbitration upon written notice of the party filing the grievance.

(Article 5, Section 5.1, 2003 Agreement between Dresser Rand Company, Olean Operations, and the United Steelworkers of America, Local 4601, A.F.L.-C.I.O.-C.L.C. (Ex. C, Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Facts).) Article 13 of the same agreement states,

It is agreed that the Union and its members, individually and collectively, will not, during the term of this Agreement, cause, permit, or take part in any strike, picketing, sit-down, slow-down, stay in, or other curtailment or restricting of production or interference of work in or about the Company's plant or premises. Correlative with this provision, the Company agrees not to engage in any lock-out.

(Id., at Article 13.) The Agreement remains in effect until midnight on June 14, 2008, with a provision permitting automatic renewals. (Id., at Article 24.)

Defendant John Baglione ("Baglione") is the president of Local. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 10.) James Shaughnessy ("Shaughnessy") is a staff representative with International. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 11.) Shaughnessy's job responsibilities include communicating information back and forth between Local and the officers of International. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 12.) At his deposition, Shaughnessy testified that if a vote were taken by the Local not to work overtime, that vote would violate Article 13 of the collective bargaining agreement. The International's constitution permits its president to take action leading to a hearing and possible suspension or revocation of the charter of any local union, where the president has reason to believe that the Local is failing to comply with International's constitution. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 17.) Although defendants do not dispute this last claim by plaintiff, they argue it is "not material to this action." (Def.s' Counter Statement to Pl.'s Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 9.)

In December 2003 (plaintiff's statement does not specify the exact date), Dresser Rand invited an outside service to take a walk-through the Olean plant to develop a cost estimate of having janitorial work performed by such outside service. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 19.) On December 12, 2003, immediately following the walk-through, the Local filed a grievance alleging that any decision to contract out janitorial services and eliminate the unionized janitorial positions would violate the collective bargaining agreement. Dresser Rand and the Local mutually agreed to hold the grievance and not adjudicate it until Dresser Rand actually did propose to contract out janitorial services.

In March 2004, Dresser Rand met with the Local's officers to advise them of its projections regarding cost savings it could achieve by contracting out janitorial services. On April 7, 2005, Dresser Rand informed the Local of its proposal to eliminate the janitor classification based on the expected cost savings. The Local was invited to submit an alternative which would achieve some cost savings. (Donna McIntyre,("McIntyre") Aff., at 4.) On April 20, 2005, the Local presented an alternative proposal which McIntyre, Dresser Rand's Human Resource Manager at Olean, rejected on April 21, 2005. (McIntyre Aff., at 5-6.)

During the week of April 10, 2005, while at the International's union convention in Las Vegas, Baglione, Shaughnessy, Pat Kelly ("Kelly"), the grievance chair and financial secretary of the Local, and Tom Stimlinger ("Stimlinger"), a member of the Local's Grievance Committee, met to discuss the reaction of the Olean employees to the announcement that Dresser Rand would contract out janitorial work. Baglione informed Shaughnessy that "the members were upset and some of them were talking about walking out. They were saying that if the company can violate the contract, why can't we." (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 29. ) Stimlinger told Shaughnessy that, "all hell's breaking loose and we have to do something." (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 30.) Baglione told Shaughnessy that Local was calling a special meeting for Sunday, April 17, 2005. He also told Shaughnessy that, "Pat Kelly and I had to defuse walkouts in turning down overtime in 2003." (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 32.) Shaughnessy then reminded Baglione that walkouts were not an option.

At the Local's special meeting held on April 17, 2005, a motion unanimously passed directing that, "the members decline voluntary overtime for the following weekend to protest the Company's subcontracting janitors' work if the meeting scheduled for April 20, 2005 was not successful in reversing the Company's actions." (Responses of Defendants' United Steel W orkers of America, Local 4601, John J. Baglione, Jr., Anthony Jurenko and Pat Kelly to Plaintiffs' First Set in Interrogatories (Undated), at 6 (Ex. I, Appendix to Plaintiffs Statement of Undisputed Material Facts).) At the meeting, Baglione told the members that their suggestions for either a walkout or wildcat strike were illegal. The Local communicated the results of the April 17, 2005, special meeting to the members who had not attended through the union's stewards. (Pl.'s Statement of Undisputed Material Facts ¶ 37.).

On April 19, 2005, McIntyre, received a telephone call from an hourly employee at Olean, who requested that his name remain confidential. (Id.) The employee informed McIntyre that on Sunday, April 17, 2005, a meeting had been held with union employees and that they were advised not to work overtime due to the pending dispute regarding janitorial services. The employee also advised McIntyre, that although he considered working overtime during the upcoming week, he had decided not to do so because of the Local's instructions. McIntyre investigated this report by ...


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