Minnesota Nurses Association v. North Memorial Health Care et al
AMENDED ORDER to direct that judgment be entered accordingly re 12 MOTION to Vacate Arbitration Award filed by Minnesota Nurses Association (Written Opinion). Signed by Senior Judge David S. Doty on 5/18/2015. (PJM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Civil No. 14-4529(DSD/BRT)
Minnesota Nurses Association,
North Memorial Health Care and
North Memorial Medical Center,
Christopher K. Wachtler, Esq. and Wachtler Law Office,
831 Como Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55103, counsel for
Daniel R. Kelly, Esq. and Felhaber Larson, 220 South
Sixth Street, Suite 2200, Minneapolis, MN 55402, counsel
This matter is before the court upon the motion to vacate, or
in the alternative, modify or correct the arbitrator’s decision by
plaintiff Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). Based on a review of
the file, record, and proceedings herein, and for the following
reasons, the court grants the motion in part.
decisions made by defendant North Memorial Health Care (North
Memorial) regarding weekend work for senior nurses. MNA represents
Order amended only to direct that judgment be entered
nurses employed by North Memorial.
Marsh Aff. Ex. A, at 1.
Memorial and MNA are parties to a collective bargaining agreement
(CBA), which took effect on June 1, 2013, and will expire on May
Id. § 65.
Article 23 of the CBA sets forth the parties’
agreement as to weekend work. Id. § 23.
Section I prohibits North
Memorial from requiring nurses “with thirty (30) calendar years of
service at age fifty-five (55) or above” to work on weekends.
An exemption applies, however, if compliance with the
provision “would deprive patients of needed nursing service.”
Also relevant to this dispute, Article 6, Section A of the CBA
governs “confirmed work agreements” for individual nurses.
That section provides that a nurse’s confirmed work
agreement “shall not be changed without consent of the nurse.” Id.
Lynette Drake became exempt from weekend work on May 17, 2013.
McMahon Aff. Ex. 2, at 7.
She submitted a prospective request for
no weekend work on March 4, 2013.
Marsh Aff. Ex. B, at 6.
Memorial did not formally respond, and on July 31, 2013, MNA filed
a grievance on Drake’s behalf.
Id. at 2.
filed a second request for no weekend work.
The next day, Drake
Id. at 10.
Memorial denied the grievance on September 12, 2013, stating “we
are not currently able to guarantee that allowing [Drake] to have
every weekend off would not deprive patients of needed nursing
service on the weekends.”
Id. at 3.
Likewise, on September 20,
2013, Drake’s nurse manager responded to her written requests,
stating that allowing Drake weekends off would “decrease [weekend]
coverage even further which could result in depriving patients of
needed nursing service.”
Id. at 6, 10.
MNA thereafter demanded
arbitration under the CBA, and on June 6, 2014, a hearing was held
before Arbitrator Richard John Miller.
McMahon Aff. Ex. 2, at 1.2
The parties submitted post-hearing briefs on July 7, 2014.
Marsh Aff. Exs. C, D.
North Memorial framed the relevant issue as:
“Did the Medical Center violate Section 23(I) when it refused to
regularly schedule [Drake] with no weekends?” Marsh Aff. Ex. C, at
MNA did not provide an issue statement.
Id. Ex. D.
Arbitrator Miller issued an award on July 18, 2014.
Aff. Ex. 2.
Miller framed the issues to be decided as follows:
“1. Did the Medical Center violate Article 23(I) of the Contract
when it refused to regularly schedule [Drake] with no weekend
work”; and “2. If so, what is the appropriate remedy?”
Id. at 3.
Miller found that North Memorial did not violate Article 23,
Section I, because it had the “expressed right” to invoke the
Id. at 20, 24.
Although Miller found no
violation, he determined that the parties needed “a prospective
standard for evaluating patient care in accordance with Section
Article 40 of the CBA sets for the procedures for
arbitrating grievances. Marsh Aff. Ex. B § 40. A grievance is
defined as “any controversy arising over the interpretation of or
the adherence to the terms and provisions of [the CBA].” Id. The
CBA does not contain any limitation on the arbitrator’s authority
to resolve grievances or fashion remedies.
Id. at 21.
In particular, Miller stated that it was
“arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory to have [Drake] work all
of the future scheduled weekends when similarly-situated qualifying
nurses are exempt from this work.”
Id. at 22.
if [North Memorial] invokes the “exception” proviso to
compel qualifying nurses to work on weekends the number
of required weekends shall be equally shared (divided)
among those qualifying nurses ....
Id. at 24.
Miller found that requiring equal division of weekend
work was “[t]he most sensible, reasonable and fairest solution for
future weekend scheduling ....”
Id. at 21.
alternative modify or correct, the arbitration award, in Hennepin
County District Court.
ECF No. 1-1.
North Memorial timely
removed, and on December 12, 2014, MNA re-filed the motion in this
ECF No. 12.
Standard of Review
“Judicial review of a labor-arbitration award is narrow and
deferential.” Breckenridge O’Fallon, Inc. v. Teamsters Union Local
No. 682, 664 F.3d 1230, 1233 (8th Cir. 2012).3
The parties dispute whether federal or state law applies to
this action. Although MNA moved for vacatur under the Minnesota
Uniform Arbitration Act, the court finds that this action is
decision is legitimate “so long as it draws its essence from the
collective bargaining agreement.”
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica,
Inc. v. United Food & Commercial Workers, 739 F.3d 1136, 1140 (8th
construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of
his authority, the fact that a court is convinced he committed
Breckenridge O’Fallon, 664 F.3d at 1234 (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
“An arbitrator’s broad authority, however, is not unlimited.”
Med. Shoppe Int’l, Inc. v. Turner Invs., Inc., 614 F.3d 485, 488
(8th Cir. 2010).
The court “may vacate a labor arbitration award
if the arbitrator exceeds the scope of the submission by ruling on
issues not presented to him by the parties.”
Coop., 751 F.3d at 904.
Likewise, an award may be vacated “if the
governed by federal law.
See Minot Builders Supply Assocs. v.
Teamsters Local 123, 703 F.2d 324, 327 (8th Cir. 1983) (allowing
removal of action brought pursuant to North Dakota arbitration law,
because it was a labor dispute and thus arose under federal law).
Moreover, although this action arises under section 301 of the
Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, the court may look to
precedent interpreting the Federal Arbitration Act. See Associated
Elec. Coop., Inc. v. Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers, Local No. 53, 751
F.3d 898, 901 (8th Cir. 2014).
unambiguous contract or nullified a provision of the contract.”
Star Tribune Co. v. Minn. Newspaper Guild Typographical Union, 450
F.3d 345, 348 (8th Cir. 2006).
Motion to Vacate
MNA no longer contests for purposes of this motion that North
Memorial violated Article 23, Section I by denying Drake the no
weekend work benefit.
The union argues, however, that vacatur is
warranted because Miller, by requiring equal division of weekend
work among qualifying nurses, (1) decided an issue that was not
submitted to him, and (2) nullified those provisions in the CBA
agreements without the nurse’s consent.
The court agrees.
Scope of the Issues Submitted
“When two parties submit an issue to arbitration, it confers
authority upon the arbitrator to decide that issue.”
Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters v. Cargill, Inc., 66 F.3d 988, 990-91 (8th
Cir. 1995) (emphasis in original).
“[O]nce the parties have gone
beyond their promise to arbitrate and have actually submitted an
issue to an arbiter, [the court] must look both to their contract
and to the submission of the issue to the arbitrator to determine
John Morrell & Co. v. Local Union 304A of United
Food & Commercial Workers, AFL-CIO, 913 F.2d 544, 561 (8th Cir.
1990). “[A]n arbitrator’s interpretation of the scope of the issue
submitted to him is entitled to the same deference accorded his
interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement.” Id. at 560
(quoting Pack Concrete v. Cunningham, 866 F.2d 283, 285 (9th Cir.
The record reflects that neither party expressly asked the
arbitrator to devise a remedy in the event he found a violation of
Of course, it may be implied that the parties agreed a
remedy should issue if a violation occurred, as MNA suggested
various scenarios in which it believed North Memorial could meet
patient care needs while still offering the no weekend work benefit
See McMahon Aff. Ex. 2, at 16-20 (rejecting the union’s
proposed solutions); Bowater Carolina Co. v. Rock Hill Local Union
No. 1924, 871 F.2d 23, 25 (4th Cir. 1989) (stating that the scope
of issues to arbitrate “may be implied or established by the
conduct of the parties”) (quoting Int’l Chem. Workers Union, Local
No. 566 v. Mobay Chem. Corp., 755 F.2d 1107, 1110 (4th Cir. 1989)).
Here, however, Miller found no violation but nonetheless imposed
additional obligations on the parties.
Cf. Keebler Co. v. Milk
Drivers & Dairy Employees Union, Local No. 471, 80 F.3d 284, 288
(8th Cir. 1996) (vacating award that “impos[ed] a new obligation
... thereby amending the collective bargaining agreement”).
is no indication that the parties intended Miller to issue a remedy
without first finding a violation on the part of North Memorial.
appropriate remedy on first finding a CBA violation.
Aff. Ex. 2, at 3.
Because Miller strayed beyond the issues
submitted to him, vacatur is warranted.
Nullification of Articles 6 and 24
Even if Miller somehow had the authority to consider a remedy,
arbitrator’s “task is limited to construing the meaning of the
collective-bargaining agreement so as to effectuate the collective
intent of the parties.”
Midwest Division-L.H., LLC v. Nurses
United for Improved Patient Care, 720 F.3d 648, 650 (8th Cir. 2013)
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
arbitrator must construe the CBA when resolving a grievance, “he
may not amend it.”
Int’l Paper Co. v. United Paper workers Int’l
Union, 215 F.3d 815, 817 (8th Cir. 2000).
According to the CBA, written work agreements set forth
scheduling details for individual nurses, including the hours to be
worked per payroll period, shift rotation, shift length, and
Marsh Aff. Ex. A § 6(A).
Article 6 plainly
states that a nurse’s written work agreement “shall not be changed
contemplates the future implementation of a policy allowing certain
senior nurses to work permanent shifts of their choosing.
That provision also prohibits those nurses’ work agreements
from being “involuntarily changed.”
Id. § 24(B).
By requiring North Memorial to divide weekend shifts equally
among nurses who qualify for the no weekend work benefit, the award
agreements, thereby nullifying portions of Articles 6 and 24.4
United Paper workers, 215 F.3d at 817 (vacating award prohibiting
the hiring of outside contractors, because a separate provision in
necessitate the use of outside forces”).
Moreover, the remedy is
untenable because it requires immediate implementation, which does
not allow the parties to mutually develop new work agreements
consistent with the devised remedy.
See McMahon Aff. Ex. 2, at 24
(requiring equitable division of weekend work “from the date of
this award”); see also Star Tribune, 450 F.3d at 349 (affirming
arbitration award where a provision could be implemented in a
North Memorial argues that MNA impermissibly submitted postaward evidence showing that nurses’ work agreements have been
unilaterally altered or cancelled as a result of the award. See
Wachtler Aff. Exs. B, C, D, E. The court must review the award
“based on the record before the arbitrator.” Midwest Division-LSH,
720 F.3d at 652. Nonetheless, the court need not rely on postaward evidence to determine that the remedy devised by Miller is at
odds with Articles 6 and 24.
manner consistent with the award).
As a result, the award cannot
be said to draw its essence from the CBA, and vacatur is warranted
on this basis as well.5
Scope of Vacatur
Although vacatur is warranted, the court finds that it is
appropriate to vacate only the portion of the award pertaining to
the remedy devised by the arbitrator.
The parties agree that
Miller was authorized to determine whether North Memorial violated
Article 23, Section I, and his finding on that question must be
See Associated Elec. Coop., 751 F.3d at 904
(upholding award but declining to enforce remedy pertaining to an
issue that was not submitted to arbitration); Centrata, Inc., Fort
Dodge, Iowa v. Local No. 816 Int’l Union of Elec., Radio & Machine
Workers of Am., 827 F.2d 1210, 1217 (8th Cir. 1987) (holding that
“the district court did not err in vacating the remedial portion of
the arbitrator’s award”).
As a result, the remedy portion of the
award is vacated.
MNA also argues that it previously rejected a proposal by
North Memorial allowing for individual work agreements to be
unilaterally modified upon 60 days’ notice to the nurse.
McMahon Aff. ¶ 13.
“[A]n arbitrator may not ignore persuasive
evidence that a particular remedy was considered and ‘explicitly
rejected’ in negotiating the CBA.” Midwest Division-LSH, 720 F.3d
at 651. It appears, however, that evidence of these negotiations
was not submitted to the arbitrator and therefore cannot form an
alternative basis for vacatur.
Accordingly, based on the above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the
arbitrator’s decision [ECF No. 12] is granted in part, as set forth
May 18, 2015
s/David S. Doty
David S. Doty, Judge
United States District Court
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