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United Steel v. Exxon Mobil Corporation

United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division

December 15, 2014

UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFL-CIO-CLC, and UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL 11-470, Plaintiffs,
v.
EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION, Defendant.

ORDER ADDRESSING CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

CAROLYN S. OSTBY, Magistrate Judge.

This is an action to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC, and United Steel Workers Local 11-470 (collectively "the Union"), proceeding under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, seek to compel arbitration of a grievance with Defendant Exxon Mobil Corporation ("ExxonMobil") under the parties' collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). Cmplt. to Compel Arbitration (ECF 1).

Before the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. Union's Mtn. (ECF 17) and ExxonMobil's Mtn. (ECF 20).

I. BACKGROUND[1]

The Union represents certain employees at ExxonMobil's oil refinery in Billings, Montana. Stmt. of Stipulated Facts (ECF 12) at ¶¶ 1, 3. The Union and ExxonMobil are parties to a CBA effective February 1, 2012, through January 31, 2015. Id. at ¶ 6.

The CBA's Article XIII sets forth a grievance procedure [t]o provide an orderly method for adjusting disputes involving the interpretation of the provisions of [the CBA], or claims by either party of a violation of the terms of [the CBA], or claims of unfair treatment involving either an interpretation or violation of the terms of [the CBA]....

ECF 12-1 at 30. The grievance procedure includes three steps, including time limits and conditions within each step, for resolving disputes. Id.

The CBA also contains an arbitration provision in Article XIV, which provides, in part, as follows:

Any question as to the interpretation of the terms of [the CBA] or any question of fact arising out of an alleged violation of the terms of [the CBA] which is not otherwise settled, shall at the request of either party, be submitted to an arbitrator[.]

Id. at 32. Article XIV includes provisions describing the arbitration process. Id.

The CBA covers the position of "in-plant janitor." ECF 1 at ¶ 8; Answer (ECF 6) at ¶ 8. In February 2013, the employee in the in-plant janitor position retired. Before his retirement, ExxonMobil announced its intent to hire contractors to perform the work formerly done by the in-plant janitor, rather than fill the position with a bargaining unit employee. ECF 12 at ¶ 8.

On December 13, 2012, the Union filed a Request for First Step Grievance Meeting. Id. at ¶ 9. It stated, in relevant part:

A contractor is performing the in-plant janitor work and the in-plant janitor position is being left vacant. This very issue was the subject of a previous grievance and arbitration. The grievance was sustained by the arbitrator.

ECF 12-2. ExxonMobil denied the request on the same day. Id.; see also ECF 12-2.

On December 18, 2012, the Union filed a Request for Second Step ("Step 2") Grievance meeting accompanied by a Grievance Report ("grievance"). ECF 12 at ¶ 10. It stated, in relevant part:

The in-plant janitor position is being left vacant and contractors are performing the work of the in-plant janitor position. This very issue was the subject of a previous grievance and arbitration. The grievance was sustained by the arbitrator.

ECF 12-3.

On January 8, 2013, the Union and ExxonMobil had a Step 2 meeting. Id. at ¶ 11. On January 15, 2013, ExxonMobil provided the Union with its Step 2 response to the grievance, stating:

In reviewing the arbitration referenced by the Union, the dispute was over a letter agreement written during 1986 contract negotiations. This agreement is no longer in effect and the 2012 Collective Bargaining agreement language ...

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