Bechtel Corp. v. LOCAL 215, LABORERS'INT. U. OF NA

Decision Date13 November 1975
Docket NumberNo. 75-245 Civil.,75-245 Civil.
Citation405 F. Supp. 370
PartiesBECHTEL CORPORATION and Bechtel Power Corporation, Plaintiffs, v. LOCAL 215, LABORERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, AFL-CIO et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania


James J. Haggerty, Haggerty & McDonnell, Scranton, Pa., Bond, Schoeneck & King, Syracuse, N. Y., for plaintiffs.

Ira H. Weinstock, James L. Cowden, Handler, Gerber & Weinstock, Harrisburg, Pa., for defendants.

SHERIDAN, Chief Judge.

This action arises under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 141 et seq. (the Act). Before the court are defendants' motions to dismiss and for a more definite statement. For the purposes of the ruling on the motion to dismiss, the court accepts as true all well pleaded facts in the complaint. Bonnot v. Congress of Independent Unions, Local 14, 8 Cir. 1964, 331 F.2d 355; United States Steel Corp. v. UMW, W.D.Pa.1970, 320 F.Supp. 743. For the reasons hereinafter given the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

Plaintiffs (Bechtel) are Bechtel Corporation and Bechtel Power Corporation, the latter being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the former. Bechtel is a general contractor, engaged in the construction of two nuclear power plants, known collectively as the Susquehanna Steam Electric Generating Station in Berwick, Pennsylvania. The work on this eight year project began in late 1973.

Bechtel employs approximately 1200 employees in manual building trades and has contracted with subcontractors who employ approximately 100 additional workers. Wages, hours, and working conditions for plaintiffs' employees are covered by the terms of several collective bargaining agreements entered into between Bechtel or its representative and various unions, including defendant Local 215, Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO (Local 215), or their international organizations.

According to the complaint, in November 1974, a jurisdictional dispute arose between Local 215 and a local chapter of the Ironworkers' Union concerning the performance of certain work on the project. Thereafter, on December 16 and 17, representatives of Local 215 induced a work stoppage and picketing at the project.

In February 1975, a second jurisdictional dispute arose, this time between Local 215 and a local chapter of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union. This dispute also resulted in a work stoppage and picketing, for which defendants were responsible.

Bechtel claims damage as a result of these stoppages which, it is asserted, were in violation of Local 215's contractual obligations as well as the Act. The jurisdiction of the court is grounded on §§ 301 and 303 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 185 and 187.


The defendants have moved to dismiss the action as to the individual defendants, claiming that the Act confers no jurisdiction over individuals. Bechtel acquiesces in this view:

". . . Plaintiffs do not oppose the motion to dismiss insofar as it is directed against these two individuals." Plaintiffs' Br. at 2.

Accordingly, this portion of the motion to dismiss will be granted.


With regard to this point, defendants have abandoned their motion.

"The defendants do not press this defense at this time." Defendants' Br. at 8.

Accordingly, this portion of their motion will be denied.


Jurisdiction for this action is grounded on §§ 301 and 303 of the Act. The first section creates a cause of action for a violation of a collective bargaining agreement. 29 U.S.C.A. § 185. The second authorizes a suit for damages, ". . . subject to the limitations and provisions of section 185 . . .," where a labor union causes a strike in furtherance of a jurisdictional dispute with another union in violation of 29 U. S.C.A. § 158(b)(4). 28 U.S.C.A. § 187. See NLRB v. Local 825, Operating Engineers, 1971, 400 U.S. 297, 91 S.Ct. 402, 27 L.Ed.2d 398; Carey v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 1964, 375 U.S. 261, 84 S.Ct. 401, 11 L.Ed.2d 320.

A. Section 301, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185, claim.

This law authorizes unions or employers to sue for damages when a party has violated a collective bargaining agreement.

"Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties." 29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a).

Thus, parties may bring suit in federal court upon an allegation that a defendant is in breach of a collective bargaining contract.

However, many collective bargaining contracts contain arbitration clauses under which the parties agree to submit grievances arising under the contract to an arbitrator for decision, and the law favors arbitration. Section 203(d) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 173(d), provides:

"Final adjustment by a method agreed upon by the parties is declared to be the desirable method of settlement of grievance disputes arising over the application or interpretation of an existing collective-bargaining agreement. . . ."

Therefore, where there is an arbitration clause, the court should order a grievance submitted to arbitration without weighing its merits. United Steelworkers v. American Manufacturing Co., 1960, 363 U.S. 564, 80 S.Ct. 1343, 4 L. Ed.2d 1403. An application for such an order should not be denied, unless it can be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation which covers the dispute. United Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 1960, 363 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409. All doubts should be resolved in favor of arbitration. Id.; Gateway Coal Co. v. UMW, 1974, 414 U.S. 368, 94 S.Ct. 629, 38 L.Ed.2d 583; see NAPA Pittsburgh, Inc. v. Automotive Chauffeurs Local 926, 3 Cir. 1974, 502 F.2d 321, cert. denied 1974, 419 U.S. 1049, 95 S.Ct. 625, 42 L.Ed.2d 644; Keystone Printed Specialties Co., Inc. v. Scranton Printing Pressmen Union No. 119, M.D.Pa.1974, 386 F.Supp. 416, aff'd 1975, 3 Cir., 517 F.2d 1398. On the other hand, arbitration is a matter of contract, and a party cannot be required to submit a grievance to arbitration that it has not agreed to submit. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Livingston, 1964, 376 U.S. 543, 84 S.Ct. 909, 11 L.Ed.2d 898; R.C.A. v. Association of Scientists, 3 Cir. 1969, 414 F.2d 893. In summary, if the parties have agreed to submit the issues involved in a lawsuit to arbitration, the court will refer the issues to arbitration and order the parties to carry out their agreement. Drake Bakeries, Inc. v. Local 50, Bakery Workers, 1962, 370 U.S. 254, 82 S.Ct. 1346, 8 L.Ed.2d 474; see Affiliated Food Distributors, Inc. v. Local 229, Teamsters, 3 Cir. 1973, 483 F.2d 418, cert. denied 1974, 415 U.S. 916, 94 S.Ct. 1412, 39 L.Ed.2d 470; Boeing Co. v. UAW, 3 Cir. 1967, 370 F.2d 969. Compare Drake, supra, with Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 1962, 370 U.S. 238, 82 S.Ct. 1318, 8 L.Ed.2d 462.

Involved here are two agreements having conflicting arbitration clauses, each of which purports to predominate. Attached to the verified complaint and made the subject of reference therein is a collective bargaining contract between Bechtel and unions affiliated with the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, dated October 2, 1973, (Local Agreement). Attached to the motion to dismiss1 is a National Agreement signed November 1, 1973, between the Laborers' International Union of North America and the National Constructors Association (National Agreement). Bechtel is a party to the Local Agreement and a member of the Constructors Association that is a party to the National Agreement. Local 215 is a unit of the International Union which signed the National Agreement and a signatory to the Local Agreement. Thus, both parties appear to be bound by both agreements.

This portion of the lawsuit concerns damages arising from two work stoppages allegedly caused by Local 215. Concerning arbitration, the Local Agreement provides:

"In the interest of uninterrupted progress on any and all work covered by this Agreement, and providing an orderly procedure for binding resolution of all disputes which may arise, the parties hereby agree that all questions or grievances involving the meaning, interpretation and application of this Agreement, other than trade jurisdictional disputes arising under Article XII or damages arising from any work stoppage or lockout, shall be handled under the following procedures:
". . .
"Step 4. If the parties are unable to effect an amicable settlement or adjustment of any grievance or controversy under this section, then such grievance or controversy shall be submitted to binding arbitration . . ." Article XV.

On the other hand, the National Agreement provides:

"It is specifically agreed that there shall be no strikes, lockouts or cessation or slowdown of work or picketing over any dispute over the application or interpretation of this Agreement, and that all grievances and disputes, excluding jurisdictional disputes, shall be handled as hereinafter provided.
". . .
"C. Failing in settlement under the above procedure . . ., the matter shall be referred to a Board of Arbitration . . .." Article XIII.

Concerning conflicts between the two contracts, the Local Agreement provides:

"The provisions of this Agreement shall apply to the construction of the Susquehanna Steam Electric Generating Station, notwithstanding provisions of local or national union agreements which may conflict or differ with the terms of this Agreement. . . ." Article II.

In the face of this, the...

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