United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SHEET METAL, AIR, RAIL AND TRANSPORTATION WORKERS, Plaintiff,
TRANSIT MANAGEMENT OF CHARLOTTE, INC., Defendant.
C. Keesler United States Magistrate Judge
MATTER IS BEFORE THE COURT on Defendant's
“Motion For Summary Judgment” (Document No. 16)
and “Plaintiff SMART's Motion For Summary
Judgment” (Document No. 17). The parties have consented
to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), and these motions are now ripe for disposition.
Having carefully considered the motions, the record,
applicable authority, and the oral arguments of counsel at a
Motions Hearing on November 6, 2019, the undersigned will
grant Plaintiff's motion and deny
Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation
Workers (“Plaintiff” or the “Union”)
brought this case under the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185, after Transit
Management of Charlotte, Inc. (“Defendant”),
refused to follow the negotiated grievance and arbitration
process with regard to employee Derrick Hector. (Document No.
1). Plaintiff and Defendant are parties to a collective
bargaining agreement (“CBA”), which contains a
grievance and arbitration provision. See (Document
No. 17-3). To resolve a prior grievance, Plaintiff,
Defendant, and Hector agreed to a “Settlement
Agreement” under which Hector was reinstated to his
position with certain conditions. See (Document No.
17-4). The Settlement Agreement included a confidentiality
provision in which the parties agreed to keep the terms of
the agreement confidential. Id.
21, 2018, Defendant terminated Hector's employment,
claiming he violated the confidentiality provision of the
Settlement Agreement. The Union disagreed that Hector
violated the Settlement Agreement, and attempted to invoke
the CBA's grievance and arbitration process to resolve
the dispute over Hector's termination. Defendant refused
to process the grievance or proceed to arbitration, and the
Union filed suit.
claim under the LMRA is that the dispute over Hector's
termination is covered by the CBA's grievance and
arbitration provision, and Plaintiff seeks an order
compelling Defendant to proceed to arbitration for the
dispute. (Document No. 1). After a brief period of discovery,
the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.
(Document Nos. 16 and 17).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
standard of review here is familiar. Summary judgment shall
be granted “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). The movant has the “initial responsibility of
informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and
identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(internal citations omitted). Only disputes between the
parties over material facts (determined by reference to the
substantive law) that might affect the outcome of the case
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment. Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A
dispute about a material fact is “genuine” only
if the evidence is such that “a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
considering cross-motions for summary judgment, a court
evaluates each motion separately on its own merits using the
standard set forth above. See Rossignol v. Voorhaar,
316 F.3d 516, 522 (4th Cir. 2003); accord Local 2-1971 of
Pace Int'l Union v. Cooper, 364 F.Supp.2d 546, 554
(W.D. N.C. 2005).
the Supreme Court's standard for determining the
arbitrability of a labor dispute, the parties first must have
an agreement to submit disputes to arbitration. AT&T
Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers of America,
475 U.S. 643, 648 (1986) (quoting United Steelworkers of
America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company, 363
U.S. 574, 582 (1960)). Second, “unless the parties
clearly and unmistakably provide otherwise, the question of
whether the parties agreed to arbitrate is to be decided by
the court, not the arbitrator.” AT&T, 475
U.S. at 649; see also BG Group, PLC v. Rep. of
Argentina, 572 U.S. 24, 34 (2014). Third, “in
deciding whether the parties have agreed to submit a
particular grievance to arbitration, a court is not to rule
on the potential merits of the underlying claims.”
Id. Finally, where the parties have agreed to an
arbitration provision, there is a presumption of
arbitrability. Id. at 650 (“Doubts should be
resolved in favor of coverage.”) (citing Warrior
& Gulf, 363 U.S. at 582-83). “[T]he party
contesting the presumption of arbitrability bears the burden
of producing strong and forceful evidence of an intention to
exclude the matter from arbitration.” United
Steelworkers of Am. v. Lukens Steel, 969 F.2d 1468, 1475
(3rd Cir. 1992).
parties do not dispute that their CBA contains a broad
grievance and arbitration procedure for the resolution of
disputes, nor that they are parties to the Settlement
Agreement. The Settlement Agreement states, in pertinent
3. Norman Stocker, arbitrator, retains jurisdiction over any
grievance that goes to arbitrator [sic] involving Derrick
Hector following the three month probationary period; and, 4.
The parties agree that the terms of this agreement are to
remain confidential and that neither party will discuss the
terms or negotiation of this agreement. Should Hector violate
the confidentiality of this agreement the agreement is voided
and he is subject to termination without grievance rights as
set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Company
too agrees to be bound by this ...