Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. LOCAL# 2548, UNITED TEXTILE WKRS., Civ. A. No. 74-263.

CourtU.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
Writing for the CourtDavid F. Sweeney, Warwick, R. I., Dennis J. Roberts, II, Providence, R. I., for defendants
Citation391 F. Supp. 287
PartiesCIBA-GEIGY CORPORATION v. LOCAL #2548, UNITED TEXTILE WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO et al.
Decision Date25 February 1975
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 74-263.

391 F. Supp. 287

CIBA-GEIGY CORPORATION
v.
LOCAL #2548, UNITED TEXTILE WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO et al.

Civ. A. No. 74-263.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island.

February 25, 1975.


391 F. Supp. 288
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
391 F. Supp. 289
Michael P. DeFanti, Providence, R. I., for plaintiff

David F. Sweeney, Warwick, R. I., Dennis J. Roberts, II, Providence, R. I., for defendants.

OPINION

PETTINE, Chief Judge.

This matter is presently before the Court to consider defendants' motions to dismiss or, in the alternative, to stay the action pending state court interpretation of R.I.G.L. § 25-1-6 (1956, 1968 reenactment). For purposes of these motions, all well-pleaded and material allegations in the Complaint are taken to be true. 5 Wright & Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure: Civil § 1350.

A review of the facts and prior proceedings produces the following picture. Plaintiff, hereinafter "the Employer," is a New York corporation which operates a chemical manufacturing plant in Cranston, Rhode Island. Some of the chemicals

391 F. Supp. 290
manufactured at the plant are produced by a chain of chemical reactions which require continuous operation of the facilities. As a result, the Employer applied for and was granted a permit to operate the plant on specified Sundays by the Rhode Island Director of Labor, pursuant to R.I.G.L. § 25-1-6 which provides, in pertinent part
"25-1-6. Work on holidays prohibited —Exceptions—Time and half.—No person, firm or corporation shall require or permit an employee to work and no person shall engage in gainful activities in any store, mill or factory, or in any commercial occupation, or in the work of transportation or communication, or in the work of industrial process on Sundays or on any of the following holidays omitted except to perform such work as is both absolutely necessary and can lawfully be performed on Sunday; provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall prohibit the director of labor from granting a permit to perform such work upon written application therefor at least ten (10) days previous to the Sunday or holiday therein referred to or for such less time as the necessity of the occasion may require in the discretion of the director of labor, which application shall contain a sworn statement by or on behalf of such person, firm or corporation of the particular necessity to perform such work and the economic hardship which would otherwise prevail as declared in said application; and provided, that all employees working during Sundays and holidays under a permit granted by the director of labor shall receive from their employer at least time and a half for work so performed; provided further that nothing herein shall be a ground for discharge or other penalty upon any employee for refusing to work for any person, firm or corporation upon any of the holidays enumerated herein."

In compliance with R.I.G.L. § 25-1-6, the Employer pays its employees who work on Sundays in excess of the "time and a half" rate specified therein. Collective Bargaining Agreement, Art. III, § 2.

At its Cranston plant, the Employer employs a bargaining unit of approximately 385 employees who are all members of Local 2548 of the United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, hereinafter "the Union", which acts as their collective bargaining representative. Employment of these workers is governed by a collective bargaining agreement which was negotiated and agreed to by the Employer and the Union, and ratified by a majority of its members. This agreement has been in effect since February 27, 1972 and expires on March 2, 1975.1 The agreement contains the following material provisions:

"ARTICLE XI
GRIEVANCES AND ARBITRATION
Section 1.
A grievance shall be defined as any difference of opinion or dispute between an employee and the representatives of the Company regarding the interpretation and application of any provision of this Agreement.
If an employee shall have a grievance, there shall be an earnest effort on the part of both parties to settle it promptly through the steps listed below. It is understood, however, that no grievance shall be accepted for consideration unless presented in the first step within three (3) calendar
391 F. Supp. 291
days of the occurrence of the incident first giving rise to the same.
* * * * * *

Section 7. Arbitration

a) Any grievance which shall involve the meaning and application of the provisions of this Agreement not adjusted under the steps above provided, may be appealed by the Vice President of the International Union to arbitration within ten (10) calendar days after an answer shall have been rendered by the Company in Step 3. An impartial arbitrator will be selected by agreement between the parties; provided, however, that a work stoppage in violation of the no-strike clause of Article XVI shall void any obligation on the part of the Company to arbitrate.
* * * * * *
c) The impartial arbitrator shall have authority only to interpret and apply the provisions of this Agreement, and he shall not have authority to alter or to add to in any way any of such provisions. He shall have no authority to interpret any State or Federal law when the compliance or non-compliance thereof shall be involved in the consideration of the grievance. He shall have authority to consider only a grievance presenting solely an arbitrable issue under this Agreement, unless the party questioning the arbitrability of an issue shall agree to submit the question of arbitrability to an arbitrator. . . . The decision of the arbitrator shall be rendered within one (1) month of the submission of the case to him and shall be final and binding on the Company, the Union, and the employee involved.
* * * * * *
ARTICLE XVI
STRIKES AND LOCKOUTS
During the term of this Agreement, the Union agrees that neither it nor any employee shall engage in or in any way encourage or sanction any strike, slowdown or other action which shall interrupt or interfere with work or production at the plant and the Company agrees that it will not engage in any lockout of employees at the plant."

In addition, the Employer argues that the agreement calls for a seven-day work week such that the Employer is empowered to schedule unit members to work shifts which include those Sundays covered by its work permit as part of the employees' regular shift, albeit at the increased pay rate demanded by R.I. G.L. § 25-1-6.2 The Employer further asserts that up until Sunday, November 10, 1974, members of the unit "have worked on Sunday pursuant to the contract when scheduled to do so". (First Amended Complaint Par. 5).

On Sunday, November 10, 1974, members of the unit collectively refused to work the Sunday shift. Pursuant to the provisions of Article XI of the agreement, the Union filed a grievance disputing the Employer's power to schedule Sunday work. Since November 10, Sunday operations at the plant have been performed by supervisory personnel. In response to what it viewed to be a violation of the no-strike clause and the grievance procedures of the agreement, the Employer filed this action in federal district court under § 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), seeking a so-called "Boys Markets injunction". Boys Markets v. Retail Clerks Union, Local 770, 398 U.S. 235, 90 S.Ct. 1583,

391 F. Supp. 292
26 L.Ed.2d 199 (1970). The Employer contends that each Sunday's cessation of work would result in $98,000.00 in lost production. Further, despite the language in Article XI, § 7(a) of the agreement absolving the Employer of any duty to arbitrate in the face of a work stoppage, the Employer represents that it is nonetheless ready and willing to process the dispute through the grievance and arbitration procedures of Article XI. (First Amended Complaint Par. 10)

The Union, of course, disputes the Employer's interpretation of the agreement and contends that it does not authorize the Employer to schedule unit members to Sundays as part of their regular shift. Both parties agree, however, and the Court so finds, that the grievance in question is subject to the mandatory grievance and arbitration procedures outlined in Article XI of the agreement. Whether the contract does indeed empower the Employer to assign Sunday work is a question which must be left to the arbitral process. United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 568-569, 80 S.Ct. 1343, 4 L.Ed.2d 1403 (1960); United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582-583, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409 (1960).

The Union, however, contends that even if the agreement were construed to authorize Sunday work, such an agreement would violate both R.I.G.L. § 25-1-6 and the United States Constitution. By its alternative motions, the Union has therefore interposed a number of objections to the issuance of an injunction and the maintenance of the action.3 For the purpose of determining these motions, the Court must assume that the collective bargaining agreement does in fact provide for Sunday work assignments in the same manner and with the same sanctions for absenteeism as Monday through Saturday assignments. First, the Union claims that R.I.G.L. § 25-1-6 must be construed to prevent the Employer from enforcing, by way of penalty or discharge, any collective agreement to do Sunday work. However, since § 25-1-6 has never been construed by the state courts, the Union urges this Court to abstain and stay these proceedings pending an authoritative state interpretation of the statute. Third, the Union argues that a contract provision requiring Sunday work would place an impermissible burden on the individual employee's freedom to practice his religion, and thereby violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I

Before we can turn to the merits of the Union's defenses, the Court must determine the scope of its review in an action for a ...

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5 practice notes
  • McInnis v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-0422-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • 14 Enero 1986
    ...Commission, 609 F.Supp. 1403, 1411 (D.R.I.1985); cf. Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Local # 2548, United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 391 F.Supp. 287, 297 n. 10 (D.R.I.1975) (abstention disfavored where the parties mutually deplore such a course and where abstention, if imposed unilaterally by......
  • RI CH. OF NAT. W. POL. C. v. RI LOTTERY COM'N, C.A. No. 84-0284 S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • 22 Mayo 1985
    ...the selfsame interpretation of the statutory verbiage. Cf. Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Local # 2548, United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 391 F.Supp. 287, 297 n. 10 (D.R.I.1975) (abstention disfavored where the parties mutually deplore such a course and where abstention, if imposed unilatera......
  • Trustees for Alaska Hotel and Restaurant Employees Health & Welfare Fund & Pension Fund v. Hansen, No. 7851
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • 5 Octubre 1984
    ...U.S. 95, 82 S.Ct. 571, 7 L.Ed.2d 593 (1962). 6 See also Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Local No. 2548, United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 391 F.Supp. 287, 296 (D.R.I.1975), 22 L.Ed.2d 753 (1969); Bates v. Foremost McKesson, Inc., 392 So.2d 389 (La.1980); Masonite Corp. v. International Woodwo......
  • United Steelworkers of America v. Block, Civ. No. 82-5078.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • 23 Diciembre 1982
    ...Employees 578 F. Supp. 1420 Local 1315 v. Kell, 628 F.2d 1099 (8th Cir.1980); CIBA-GEIGY Corp. v. Local # 2548, United Textile Workers, 391 F.Supp. 287 In this case, the Union contends that defendants' interpretation and application of Section 2015(d)(4) actually injured or threatens future......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • McInnis v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Inc., Civ. A. No. 82-0422-S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • 14 Enero 1986
    ...Commission, 609 F.Supp. 1403, 1411 (D.R.I.1985); cf. Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Local # 2548, United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 391 F.Supp. 287, 297 n. 10 (D.R.I.1975) (abstention disfavored where the parties mutually deplore such a course and where abstention, if imposed unilaterally by......
  • RI CH. OF NAT. W. POL. C. v. RI LOTTERY COM'N, C.A. No. 84-0284 S.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Rhode Island
    • 22 Mayo 1985
    ...the selfsame interpretation of the statutory verbiage. Cf. Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Local # 2548, United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 391 F.Supp. 287, 297 n. 10 (D.R.I.1975) (abstention disfavored where the parties mutually deplore such a course and where abstention, if imposed unilatera......
  • Trustees for Alaska Hotel and Restaurant Employees Health & Welfare Fund & Pension Fund v. Hansen, No. 7851
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • 5 Octubre 1984
    ...U.S. 95, 82 S.Ct. 571, 7 L.Ed.2d 593 (1962). 6 See also Ciba-Geigy Corp. v. Local No. 2548, United Textile Workers of America, AFL-CIO, 391 F.Supp. 287, 296 (D.R.I.1975), 22 L.Ed.2d 753 (1969); Bates v. Foremost McKesson, Inc., 392 So.2d 389 (La.1980); Masonite Corp. v. International Woodwo......
  • United Steelworkers of America v. Block, Civ. No. 82-5078.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • 23 Diciembre 1982
    ...Employees 578 F. Supp. 1420 Local 1315 v. Kell, 628 F.2d 1099 (8th Cir.1980); CIBA-GEIGY Corp. v. Local # 2548, United Textile Workers, 391 F.Supp. 287 In this case, the Union contends that defendants' interpretation and application of Section 2015(d)(4) actually injured or threatens future......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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