Brock Industrial Services, LLC, Plaintiff-Appellant/ Cross-Appellee,
Laborers' International Union of North America Construction & General Laborers Local 100, Defendant-Appellee/ Cross-Appellant.
April 11, 2018
Appeals from the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Illinois. No. 16-CV-780-NJR-DGW - Nancy
J. Rosenstengel, Judge.
Bauer, Sykes, and Barrett, Circuit Judges.
Industrial Services, LLC, is an Illinois-based provider of
industrial services, including scaffolding, painting,
insulation, and shoring. In January 2016 it entered into a
labor agreement with Local 100 of the Laborers'
International Union ("the Laborers Union" or
"the Laborers"). The agreement requires arbitration
of grievances and establishes a bipartite arbitration
procedure for resolving most disputes. But work-jurisdiction
disputes-disputes over whether the Laborers or another union
is entitled to perform work-are instead subject to a
tripartite arbitration procedure involving the company and
the contending unions.
prior to signing the agreement, Brock hired the Laborers to
perform scaffolding work at a chemical plant. On the day
after the agreement became effective, Brock informed the
Laborers Union that it was reassigning the work to the
International Brotherhood of Carpenters ("the Carpenters
Union" or "the Carpenters"). Invoking the
bipartite arbitration procedure, the Laborers Union filed a
grievance with the Grievance Review Subcommittee of the
National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee ("the
Subcommittee"). Brock responded that the grievance
involved a work-jurisdiction dispute subject to tripartite
arbitration and therefore the Subcommittee lacked authority
to arbitrate the matter. The Subcommittee disagreed and
sustained the grievance.
filed suit under section 301 of the Labor Management
Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, seeking to vacate the
Subcommittee's decision. The Laborers Union responded
with a request to enforce the decision. After a flurry of
motions on both sides, the district judge determined that the
Subcommittee had authority to resolve the dispute and issued
an order enforcing its decision. Brock appealed. Under the
mistaken impression that the judge had denied the motion to
enforce, the Laborers Union also appealed.
reverse. At bottom, this grievance concerns which of two
unions was entitled to perform the scaffolding work at the
chemical plant. That's a jurisdictional dispute, and the
labor agreement calls for tripartite arbitration of
jurisdictional disputes. Accordingly, the Subcommittee had no
authority over the matter and its decision must be vacated.
and the Laborers Union entered into a labor agreement
effective January 7, 2016. The agreement provides:
"Except for jurisdictional disputes and those involving
general wage rates, all disputes and grievances arising out
of work performed under this [a]greement... shall be
resolved" through the procedures outlined in Article VI.
Article VI requires Brock and the Laborers to submit
unresolved grievances to the Subcommittee for arbitration. We
refer to this grievance process as bipartite arbitration.
I of the agreement provides a separate procedure for
resolving work-jurisdiction disputes. A work-jurisdiction
dispute is "a dispute between two or more groups of
employees over which is entitled to do certain work for an
employer." Hutter Constr. Co. v. Int'l Union of
Operating Eng'rs, Local 139, 862 F.2d 641, 644 (7th
Cir. 1988) (quotation marks omitted). Under Article I of the
labor contract, unresolved work-jurisdiction disputes must be
submitted to a Permanent Umpire. Because this process
typically involves three parties-the employer plus the two
competing unions-we refer to it as tripartite arbitration.
to signing the agreement, Brock assigned several Laborers to
construct scaffolding at the Afton Chemical Plant. On January
8, 2016-the day after the operative labor agreement became
effective-Brock notified the Laborers Union that its services
were no longer required because the project was assigned to
the Carpenters Union. On January 11 the Laborers Union sent a
letter to the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee
claiming that Brock violated the agreement when it reassigned
the work to the Carpenters. On January 21 the Laborers
notified the Carpenters Union of a work-jurisdiction dispute
between the unions over the project.
the bipartite arbitration procedure specified in Article VI,
the Laborers filed a grievance with the Subcommittee
complaining that Brock violated the agreement by terminating
the Laborers and assigning work to the Carpenters. The
grievance requested reinstatement and backpay as a remedy.
Brock responded that the Subcommittee had no arbitral
authority over the grievance because it constituted a
work-jurisdiction dispute and requested that the grievance be
dismissed or denied.
Subcommittee denied Brock's request and sustained the
grievance, finding that Brock violated Article I, Section 5
of the labor contract. That provisions states: "During
the existence of the [a]greement, there shall be no strikes,
lockouts, work stoppages, or picketing arising out of any
juris-dictional dispute. Work will continue as originally
assigned, pending resolution of the dispute." The