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Local 503 of Graphic Communications Conference of International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Cascades Containerboard Packaging-Lancaster

United States District Court, W.D. New York

December 19, 2017

LOCAL NO. 503 OF THE GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CASCADES CONTAINERBOARD PACKAGING -LANCASTER, a division of Cascades, New York, Inc., Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL A. TELESCA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Local No. 503 of the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“Local 503” or “plaintiff”) commenced the instant action on August 29, 2017, alleging that defendant Cascades Containerboard Packaging - Lancaster (“Cascades” or “defendant”) is violating a collective bargaining agreement by refusing to arbitrate a grievance related to the reduction of wages for four bargaining unit members. Now pending before the Court is plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction (Docket No. 11), in which plaintiff asks the Court to compel the parties to arbitrate the relevant grievance. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction is denied.

         II. Background

         The following facts are taken from the briefs, affidavits, and exhibits submitted by the parties.

         Local 503 is an unincorporated labor organization located in Rochester, New York. Cascades is a domestic corporation that manufactures packaging materials.

         On or about October 2, 2016, Cascades entered into a collective bargaining agreement (the “Agreement”) with a labor organization known as Local No. 27 of the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (“Local 27"). Article 5 of the Agreement sets forth a grievance procedure that ultimately culminates in arbitration.

         Local 27 was associated with the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the “International”), an international labor organization with affiliates throughout the United States. Before the events that underlie the instant action, Local 27 was placed into trusteeship while the International decided whether it could continue as a viable local labor organization. On or about March 15, 2017, the International ended the trusteeship of Local 27 and administratively transferred its assets and liabilities to Local 503, effective April 1, 2017. Plaintiff maintains that, as a result of this administrative transfer, “[Local 503] became the exclusive bargaining representative for the bargaining unit of [Cascades'] employees, and [Local 503] became responsible for administering grievances related to [the Agreement].” Docket No. 11-1 at ¶ 15.

         On or about August 3, 2017, Michael Stafford, the president of Local 503, filed a grievance with Cascades related to the unilateral reduction of wages for four bargaining unit members (the “Grievance”). Cascades denied the Grievance on or about August 8, 2017. On or about August 18, 2017, Local 503's counsel provided Cascades' counsel with a list of proposed arbitrators, purportedly pursuant to Section 5.04 of the Agreement. On or about August 25, 2017, Cascades' counsel sent an email to Local 503's counsel taking the position that Local 503 was not a party to the Agreement and that Cascades therefore had no obligation to arbitrate the Grievance with Local 503.

         Plaintiff subsequently commenced the instant action on August 29, 2017, seeking “an order . . . directing [Cascades] to proceed to an arbitration of the Grievance in accordance with the Agreement. . . .” (Docket No. 1 at 5). On October 26, 2017 (nearly two months after the complaint was initially filed), plaintiff filed the instant motion for a preliminary injunction.

         III. Discussion

         A. Legal Standard

         “A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy never awarded as of right.” Winter v. Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24(2008); see also Hanson Trust PLC v. ML SCM Acquisition, Inc., 781 F.2d 264, 273 (2d Cir. 1986)(a preliminary injunction is “one of the most drastic tools in the arsenal of judicial remedies”). “In order to obtain a preliminary injunction, a party must demonstrate: 1) that it is subject to irreparable harm; and 2) either a) that it will likely succeed on the merits or b) that there are sufficiently serious questions going to the merits of the case to make them a fair ground for litigation, and that a balancing of the hardships tips ‘decidedly' in favor of the moving party.” Genesee Brewing Co. v. Stroh Brewing Co., 124 F.3d 137, 142 (2d Cir. 1997).

         In this case, as defendant points out, plaintiff seeks a mandatory injunction, which “alter[s] the status quo by commanding some positive act.” Tom Doherty Assocs., Inc. v. Saban Entm't, Inc., 60 F.3d 27, 34 (2d Cir. 1995). In particular, plaintiff asks the Court to affirmatively require defendant to engage in arbitration. “[T]his distinction is important because [the Second Circuit has] held that a mandatory injunction should issue “only upon a clear showing that the moving party is entitled to the relief requested, or where extreme or very serious damage will result from a denial of preliminary relief.” Id.; see also Doninger v. Niehoff, 527 F.3d 41, 47 (2d Cir. 2008) (“When the movant seeks a ‘mandatory' injunction - that is, as in this ...


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