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A&A Maintenance Enterprise, Inc. v. Ramnarain

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 13, 2020

A&A MAINTENANCE ENTERPRISE, INC., Petitioner,
v.
ALVIN RAMNARAIN, as President of Local 1102, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Vincent L. Briccetti United States District Judge.

         Petitioner A&A Maintenance Enterprise, Inc. (“A&A”), brings this action under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act against respondent Alvin Ramnarain, as President of Local 1102, Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union, United Food and Commercial Workers (“Local 1102” or the “union”), to vacate an arbitration award dated December 22, 2018, issued by Arbitrator J.J. Pierson (the “arbitrator”) as to liability (the “liability award”). (Doc. #1-1 (“Pet.”)). The union, in turn, has cross-petitioned to confirm the liability award, as well as an April 19, 2019, award issued as to damages (the “relief award”). (Doc. #7).[1]

         For the following reasons, A&A's petition is DENIED, and the union's cross-petition is GRANTED.

         The Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.[2]

         BACKGROUND

         The following factual background is drawn from the parties' submissions in support of and in opposition to the pending petition and cross-petition.

         Petitioner A&A is a corporation providing janitorial and maintenance services to owners and operators of commercial real estate and educational institutions.

         Respondent is the President of Local 1102, a labor union engaged in representing workers in negotiations with their employers concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.

         The union represents building service workers, groundskeepers, and mechanics at Long Island University's campus located in Old Brookville, New York (the “university”). The university contracted with A&A to perform janitorial, mechanical, and groundskeeping work on campus. As employer for the janitorial, mechanical, and groundskeeping workers, A&A assumed the collective bargaining agreement (the “CBA”) between the university and the union.

         Following the expiration of the CBA on August 31, 2017, A&A and the union participated in three bargaining sessions. The union alleges A&A sought to “obtain ‘the right to use temporary employees'” during those sessions. (Doc. #8 (“Resp't Answer & Cross-Pet.”) at 13).[3] The union rejected A&A's proposal and A&A withdrew its request. Eventually, the parties agreed on a new CBA.

         I. The Labor Dispute

         In the fall of 2017, bargaining unit members noticed new employees doing building service work at the university. The bargaining unit members notified their union representative. The union representative attempted to ascertain the status of these new workers but was unable to do so. He then filed a written grievance on January 12, 2018, under the impression these new workers were substitutes. Eventually, after filing the grievance, the union representative learned the workers were not part of the bargaining unit represented by Local 1102.

         On January 26, 2018, the parties submitted to binding arbitration their dispute over the interpretation of the CBA respecting these workers. However, the parties framed the dispute differently.

         The union's original grievance stated, “The employer violated the collective bargaining agreement through its failure to comply with the substitute employees article.” (Resp't Answer & Cross-Pet. Ex. C). However, when the union submitted its grievance to arbitration, it described the issue as follows: “Employer violated Articles 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 15 & 20 [of the CBA] by improperly using ‘temporary employees,' as that term is defined in Article 5, to perform bargaining unit work.” (Resp't Answer & Cross-Pet. Ex. D). And before the arbitrator, the union stated the issue was whether ...


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