United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL 1393, Petitioner,
CLARK COUNTY RURAL ELECTRIC MEMBERSHIP CORPORATION, Respondent.
ENTRY ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
RICHARDX. YOUNG, JUDGE
Clark County Rural Electric Membership Corporation
(“Clark REMC”) and Petitioner, International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1393
(“Union”) are parties to a collective bargaining
agreement. On October 18, 2017, Clark REMC unilaterally
implemented a residency rule which required all Union
employees to live within 17 miles of its service territory.
The Union promptly filed a grievance and eventually a demand
for arbitration. After Clark REMC rejected the Union's
demand, the Union filed a Petition to Compel Arbitration in
this court. The parties' now cross-move for summary
judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the court
GRANTS the Union's Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment and DENIES Clark REMC's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Union is a labor organization headquartered in Indianapolis,
Indiana. (Filing No. 22-1, Affidavit of John Cochran
(“Cochran Aff.”) ¶ 2). It represents the
employees-mostly Linemen-at Clark REMC, an electric company
located in Clark County, Indiana. (Id. ¶ 4).
August 2016, Clark REMC notified the Union Steward that it
would be implementing a new rule titled “Company Rules
for Service Vehicles.” (Id. ¶ 6; Filing
22-5, Proposed “Company Rules for Service
Vehicles” rule). This rule provided that all vehicles
used by employees on service watch had to remain within a
ten-minute driving distance of the REMC's service
territory, and employees were required to take a company
vehicle home when they were on service watch. (Id.).
According to the Union, the rule implicitly imposed a
residency requirement because employees are required to take
their trucks home when they stand watch. (Cochran Aff. ¶
being notified of the planned rule, the Union notified Clark
REMC it considered the rule “unreasonable and in
violation of the collective bargaining agreement”
because (1) the CBA does not contain residency limitations
and only provides that employees must remain “at home
where they can be quickly and conveniently reached”
when they are on watch, and (2) it would prevent employee
Curtis Bussabarger from purchasing a home he had been
planning to purchase. (Filing No. 22-6, August 23, 2016
Letter re Clark REMC's Proposed Living Requirement
Policy). The Union informed Clark REMC that if it implemented
the rule, the Union would “commence the grievance
procedure under Article IV of the collective bargaining
agreement.” (Id.). In addition, since the CBA
did not address residency requirements, the Union demanded
that the REMC bargain with it before any residency
requirement was implemented, in the hope that a mutually
acceptable rule could be agreed to. (Id.; Cochran
Aff. ¶ 7).
November 14, 2016, the Union and Clark REMC met to discuss
the proposed residency requirement. (Cochran Aff. ¶ 8).
No. agreement was reached, and no rule was implemented
August 29, 2017, Clark REMC notified the Union that it wished
to continue discussing the residency requirements.
(Id. ¶ 9; Filing No. 17-2, Affidavit of David
A. Vince (“Vince Aff.”) ¶ 10). The parties
met on September 25, 2017 for close to two hours.
(Id. ¶¶ 10- 11). Clark REMC submitted
three proposals, and the Union submitted two proposals.
(Vince Aff. ¶ 12). Clark REMC's proposal required
all employees to live within the Clark REMC service territory
or “within a 17-mile radius (as the crow flies) from
the center of service territory AND within Indiana AND within
a county served by Clark  REMC.” (Id., Ex.
5). Employees were given 60 days to relocate. (Id.).
The Union's proposal required all employees to live in
Indiana, in a county served by Clark REMC, and within a
25-mile radius from the center of the territory.
October 4, 2017, Clark REMC extended what it called its
“Last, Best, and Final Offer” to the Union over
the vehicle use and residency requirements by written letter.
(Id. ¶ 13, Ex. 5, October 4, 2017, “Last,
Best and Final Offer” letter). This offer was identical
to the previous offer submitted by the Company, except it
gave employees 90 days instead of 60 days to relocate.
(Cochran Aff. ¶ 13).
Union responded that a “last, best, and final”
offer was “premature” because the parties were
not at impasse. (Filing No. 22-8, October 9, 2017, Email).
The Union notified Clark REMC that if it was willing to
continue negotiations, the Union would make a counter-offer.
(Id.). The Union also notified Clark REMC that it
considered the residency rule contained in the “Last,
Best, and Final Offer” to be unreasonable, and that if
Clark implements the rule over the Union's objection, it
reserved its right to file a contractual grievance over it.
October 18, 2017, Clark REMC notified the Union it would be
implementing the residency requirement (hereinafter the
“Residency Rule”) contained in its Last, Best,
and Final Offer effective that day. (Filing No. 22-9, October
18, 2017, Letter). The Union filed a Grievance over the
Residency Rule, protesting the “Company's unfair
and discriminatory implementation” of the Rule. (Filing
No. 22-4, Grievance). The Union also alleged that the Rule
violated Articles I and III of the parties' CBA
“and all others that apply.” (Id.).
Clark REMC refused to acknowledge the Union's grievance
as an appropriate subject of the grievance and arbitration
provisions of the CBA. (Vince Aff. ¶ 18). The Union
thereafter submitted a written demand for arbitration.
(Id. ¶ 20 and attached Ex. 10). Clark REMC
rejected the demand. (Id. ¶ 21 and attached Ex.
Union's Petition to Compel Arbitration followed.
Union argues its Grievance is arbitrable under the grievance
procedure contained in Article IV of the CBA. Clark REMC
argues it is not. In resolving this issue, the court begins
with the language ...