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United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied, No. Industrial and Service Workers Local 4-5025 v. E.I. DuPont DeNemours & Co.

March 17, 2008

UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS LOCAL 4-5025, PLAINTIFF,
v.
E.I. DUPONT DENEMOURS & COMPANY, DEFENDANT.



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

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

This case involves a labor dispute between the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers Local 4-5025 ("the Union") and E.I. DuPont DeNemours & Company ("DuPont") over a Grievance filed by the Union. The issue presently before this Court is whether the Grievance is subject to arbitration under the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA"). Both Parties have filed cross-motions on this issue, which are resolved in this Decision and Order. For the following reasons, this Court finds that the Grievance should be submitted to arbitration.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

DuPont, the Defendant, operates a manufacturing facility in Niagara Falls, NY. (DuPont's Memorandum of Law in Support of Summary Judgment, ("DuPont Mem."), Docket No. 32, pp. 8-9). The Union, the Plaintiff in this case, is the collective bargaining representative for the 165 production and maintenance employees at DuPont's Niagara Falls facility. (DuPont Mem., p. 9).

DuPont and the Union are parties to a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") which governs their employment relationship. (Exhibit A to the Complaint, Docket No. 1 ("CBA")). The CBA contains an arbitration provision which states the following:

Any question as to the interpretation of this Agreement, or as to any alleged violation of this Agreement, which is not otherwise settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties hereto, at the request of either party, shall be submitted to arbitration.

(CBA, Art. X, § 1).

The CBA also contains a section relating to employee benefit plans entitled "Industrial Relations Plans and Practices." (CBA, Art. XI). This section provides that:

All existing privileges heretofore enjoyed by the employees at the said Plant in accordance with the following Industrial Relations Plans and Practices of the COMPANY shall continue subject to such rules and regulations as existed prior to the signing of this Agreement and to such modifications thereof as may be hereafter adopted generally by the COMPANY to govern such privileges, provided, however, that as long as any of these COMPANY Plans and Practices is in effect within the COMPANY, it shall not be withdrawn from the employees covered by this Agreement. Any change in the Industrial Relations Plans and Practices, except for the BeneFlex Flexible Benefits Plan, which has the effect of reducing or terminating benefits will not be made effective until twelve (12) months' notice is give to the UNION by the COMPANY of that change. Changes to the BeneFlex Flexible Benefits Plan, including changes that have the effect of reducing or terminating benefits, may be made to the BeneFlex Flexible Benefits Plan in accordance with the terms and conditions of said Plan. (CBA, Art. XI, § 1 (emphasis added)). The CBA lists several benefit plans that are provided to Union employees, these are:

* BeneFlex Flexible Benefits Plan

* Career Transition Financial Assistance Plan

* Short-Term Disability Plan

* Pension and Retirement Plan

* Special Benefits Plan

* Vacation Plan

* Service Emblem Plan

* Continuity of Service Plan

* Payment to Employees on State and National Guard ...


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