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Painters Dist. Council No. 4 v. Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters

March 26, 2007

PAINTERS DISTRICT COUNCIL NO. 4, GLAZIERS LOCAL 660, PLAINTIFF,
v.
EMPIRE STATE REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, LOCAL UNION 289, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION & ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises from a labor dispute between two labor organizations, Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters, Local Union 289 ("the Carpenters"), and Painters District Council No. 4, Glaziers Local 660 ("the Glaziers"), over the assignment of work involving the removal, restoration, and reinstallation of aluminum windows at two schools in Buffalo, New York. The Carpenters and the Glaziers are parties to a Project Labor Agreement ("Agreement"),*fn1 which governs both the assignment of work and jurisdictional disputes over the assignment of work in the School Construction and Rehabilitation Program ("the project"). Pursuant to the Agreement, the parties appeared and presented evidence at an arbitration hearing to resolve the Glaziers' grievances over the assignment of the disputed work. On May 19, 2005, the Arbitrator issued a Decision and Award sustaining the Glaziers' grievances and directing an assignment of future work to the Glaziers.*fn2 Currently before this Court are the Glaziers' Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to confirm the Arbitrator's award, and the Carpenters' Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to vacate the Arbitrator's award.*fn3 For the following reasons, the Glaziers' Motion for Summary Judgment is granted and the Carpenters' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Summary

The following facts are undisputed for purposes of the instant motions, except where indicated. The Glaziers and the Carpenters, both labor unions, are parties to a Project Labor Agreement governing a 10-year renovation project with the Buffalo City Schools. (Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Statement*fn4 ("Pl.'s State."), ¶ 1). Pursuant to the Agreement, the Glaziers filed grievances on June 16, 2004, concerning aluminum window removal and installation work at Buffalo Public Schools 66 and 74 ("aluminum window work") that had been assigned to the Carpenters. (Id. at ¶ 3; Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement*fn5 ("Def.'s State."), ¶ 6). The Agreement provides that jurisdictional disputes over the assignment of work shall be settled through arbitration. (Def.'s State., ¶ 5). Specifically, the Agreement states that in the event of a jurisdictional dispute, "The arbitrator shall, based upon the prevailing practices in the Buffalo, New York area, direct an assignment." (Def.'s State., ¶ 5). See also Burke v. Hogan, 418 F. Supp. 2d 236 (W .D.N.Y., 2005) (where this Court confirmed an arbitrator's award of wooden window restoration work at Buffalo Public Schools 80 and 307 to the Carpenters under the same Project Labor Agreement).

Following an arbitration hearing that took place on February 11, 2005 and March 16, 2005, the Arbitrator determined that, consistent with the "prevailing practices in the Buffalo, New York area," the aluminum window work should have been assigned to the Glaziers. (Arbitrator's Decision and Award ("Arb. Dec.") (appearing at Docket No. 17-5), p. 9). The Arbitrator noted that while the Agreement does not define "prevailing practices in the Buffalo, New York area," the Carpenters, in their presentation, established that the phrase meant "how we are doing it now in this community." (Arb. Dec., p. 9). The Arbitrator reasoned that because the Glaziers performed the majority of the aluminum window work in the Buffalo area, the aluminum window work at Schools 66 and 74 should have been assigned to the Glaziers. (Arb. Dec., p. 11). The Arbitrator directed that "any further work involving the removal or installation of aluminum windows at Schools 66 and/or 74 or future work performed on this Project of a nature substantially identical to that performed at Schools 66 and/or 74 shall be assigned to the Glaziers." (Arb. Dec., p. 12). The Carpenters contend that the Arbitrator acted outside the scope of his authority and that the arbitration award does not draw its essence from the Agreement. (Def.'s State., ¶¶ 10-12).

B. Procedural History

On May 31, 2005, the Glaziers commenced the instant case by filing a Complaint in the United States District Court for the W estern District of New York. On March 3, 2006, the Glaziers filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to confirm and enforce the arbitration award. On March 3, 2006, the Carpenters filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking to vacate the arbitration award. These motions are currently before this Court.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that summary judgment is warranted where the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). A "genuine issue" exists "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L.Ed. 2d 202 (1986). A fact is "material" if it "might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Id. In a case where the non-moving party bears the ultimate burden of proof at trial, the movant may satisfy its burden by pointing to the absence of evidence supporting an essential element of the non-moving party's claim. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L.Ed. 2d 265 (1986).

In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the evidence and the inferences drawn from the evidence must be "viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Addickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1609, 26 L.Ed. 2d 142 (1970). "Only when reasonable minds could not differ as to the import of the evidence is summary judgment proper." Bryant v. Maffucci, 923 F.2d 979, 982 (2d Cir. 1991). The function of the court is not "to weigh the evidence ...


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