Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division/IBT v. Soo Line Railroad Company
ORDER denying 10 Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 14 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Written Opinion). Signed by Senior Judge David S. Doty on 7/6/2011. (PJM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 10-3019(DSD/FLN)
Brotherhood of Maintenance of
Way Employees Division/IBT,
Soo Line Railroad Company,
Charles A. Collins, Esq., 410 Main Street, Suite 410, St.
Paul, MN 55102 and Richard S. Edelman, Esq., and
O’Donnell, Schwartz & Anderson, PC, 1300 L Street N.W.,
Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20005, counsel for
Amy B. Conway, Esq., Richard W. Pins, Esq. and Leonard,
Street and Deinard, P.A., 150 South Fifth Street, Suite
2300, Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel for defendant.
This matter is before the court upon the motions for summary
judgment by plaintiff Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees
Division/IBT (BMWED) and defendant Soo Line Railroad Company (Soo
Based on a review of the file, record and proceedings
herein, and for the following reasons, the court grants the motion
of Soo Line.
In this arbitration dispute, BMWED is a representative and Soo
Line is a carrier as defined in Section 1 of the Railway Labor Act
(RLA), 45 U.S.C. § 151.
BMWED and Soo Line are parties to a
collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Rule 16 of the CBA states:
(c) An employe who desires a leave of absence
must secure permission from the proper
An absence of less than five (5)
working days due to serving on committees,
personal injury, sickness of an employe or his
immediate family does not require a leave of
absence. However, said employe shall notify
his immediate supervisor as soon as practical.
(e) An employe who fails to report for duty at
the expiration of leave of absence; will
forfeit all seniority rights except when
failure to report on time is the result of
unavoidable delay, in which case the leave
will be extended to include such delay.
(g) Without just cause, employes who fail to
secure a leave of absence as specified in
previous sections (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and
(f) will forfeit all seniority rights.
Edelman Decl. Ex. 2, ECF No. 17-2, at 23–24.
Rule 20 states:
(a) An employe ... will not be disciplined or
dismissed without a fair and impartial hearing
and shall be advised in writing of the
specific charges .... An employe who considers
himself unjustly treated shall be given a fair
and impartial hearing provided that the
request for a hearing is made in writing to
the designated Company officer within twenty
(20) days from the date of the incident ....
(c) An employe dissatisfied with a decision
shall have the right of appeal. Appeals will
be handled in accordance with Rule 21.
ECF No. 16-2, at 2–3.
On November 18 and 28, 2005, Soo Line informed BMWED member
Michael Conzet that he had failed to protect his seniority under
Thereafter, BMWED requested an unjust-treatment hearing;
Soo Line did not provide a hearing.
On January 14, 2006, BMWED
filed a grievance with Soo Line, claiming that it had violated
unsuccessful, and the grievance was referred to the Third Division
of the National Railroad Adjustment Board (Board).
On May 14, 2010, the Board issued an award in favor of Soo
Edelman Decl. Ex. 1, at 2.
The Board detailed BMWED’s
claims under Rules 16 and 20, id. at 1–3, and then stated:
After careful review of this lengthy
record, the Board finds that there is a
threshold procedural issue which determines
the outcome in this case.
Even if the
Claimant and the Organization had the right to
present a request for an Unjust Treatment
Hearing under Rule 20, there was no timely
request under that Rule.
Id. at 3.
The Board concluded that the request was untimely based
determined that “the claim must be dismissed on that basis.”
The labor member of the Board dissented, arguing that
dismissal was improper because Rule 20 has no bearing on the Rule
On July 10, 2010, BMWED petitioned the court to review and
vacate the arbitration award.
The parties filed cross motions for
summary judgment, and the court heard oral argument on May 20,
The court now considers the motions.
“The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed. R. Civ.
P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
A fact is material only when its resolution affects the outcome of
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A dispute is genuine if the evidence is such that it could
cause a reasonable jury to return a verdict for either party.
id. at 252.
On a motion for summary judgment, the court views all evidence
and inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
See id. at 255.
The nonmoving party, however, may not rest upon
mere denials or allegations in the pleadings but must set forth
specific facts sufficient to raise a genuine issue for trial.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324.
A party asserting that a genuine dispute
exists — or cannot exist —
about a material fact must cite
“particular parts of materials in the record.”
Fed. R. Civ. P.
If a plaintiff cannot support each essential element
of his claim, the court must grant summary judgment because a
necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.
Celotex, 477 U.S.
“Judicial review of a labor-arbitration decision ... is very
Courts are not authorized to review the arbitrator’s
decision on the merits despite allegations that the decision ...
misinterprets the parties’ agreement.” Duluth Missabe & Iron Range
Ry. Co. v. Int’l Bhd. of Locomotive Eng’rs, AFL-CIO 000-101, 264
F.3d 782, 784 (8th Cir. 2001).
The standard of review is “among
the narrowest known to the law.”
McClendon v. Union Pac. R. Co.,
640 F.3d 800, 803 (8th Cir. 2011) (citation omitted).
“As long as
the arbitrator is arguably construing or applying the contract and
acting within the scope of his authority, that a court is convinced
Bhd. of Maint. of Way Employees v. Soo Line R. Co., 266
F.3d 907, 910 (8th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).
The court may set aside or remand the award only “for failure
of the division to comply with the requirements of [the RLA], for
failure of the order to conform, or confine itself, to matters
within the scope of the division’s jurisdiction, or for fraud or
corruption by a member of the division making the order.”
U.S.C. § 153 First (q); Union Pac. R. Co. v. Sheehan, 439 U.S. 89,
In short, the court will not overturn an award that
“draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement.”
United Steelworkers of Am. v. Enterpr. Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S.
593, 597 (1960).
As an initial matter, this is not a case like Union Pacific
Railroad Co. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
General Committee of Adjustment, Central Region, 130 S. Ct. 584
(2009), where the Board held that it lacked jurisdiction.
award shows that the Board expressly exercised jurisdiction over
all of BMWED’s claims.
Therefore, the argument that it failed to
conform to and comply with the requirements of the RLA fails.
BMWED argues that the Board failed to apply the language of
the CBA in its decision.
The court disagrees.
discussing the Rule 16 claim, the Board determined that there was
“a threshold procedural issue which determines the outcome in this
case.” (emphasis added). The Board then determined that “[e]ven if
the Claimant and the Organization had the right to present a
request for an Unjust Treatment Hearing under Rule 20, there was no
timely request under that Rule.”1
The Board used the date of the
alleged Rule 16 violation to start the Rule 20 clock.
As a result,
a plain reading of the award shows that the Board interpreted the
The parties do not appeal the finding that BMWED’s Rule 20
request was untimely.
CBA in this case to require a timely Rule 20 challenge to the
alleged Rule 16 violation.
The interpretation of the Board is neither contrary to the CBA
nor does it render Rule 21 superfluous.
It does not add terms to
Rule 20 expressly grants employees the right to request
and receive “a fair and impartial hearing” subject to “the right of
appeal ... in accordance with Rule 21.”
provide a right of appeal in Rule 16.
The parties did not
As a result, the Board was
“arguably construing” the CBA, and its decision “draws its essence”
remanding the award is not warranted.
Accordingly, based on the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
The motion for summary judgment by BMWED [ECF No. 10] is
The motion for summary judgment by Soo Line [ECF No. 14]
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
July 6, 2011
s/David S. Doty
David S. Doty, Judge
United States District Court
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