The opinion of the court was delivered by: PARKER
BARRINGTON D. PARKER, District Judge.
In Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 2 v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 552 F. Supp. 622 (D.D.C.1982) (OPEIU), this Court entered summary judgment for plaintiff, Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 2 (Local 2), on the third and fourth causes of action of the First Amended Complaint.
Currently before the Court is the motion of the defendant, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for summary judgment on the remaining two causes of action of the First Amended Complaint, counts one and two.
On May 2, 1983, the Court issued a Notice to Counsel, requesting counsel to address the relevancy of Drake Bakeries, Inc. v. Local 50, American Bakery & Confectionery Workers International, AFL-CIO, 370 U.S. 254, 82 S. Ct. 1346, 8 L. Ed. 2d 474 (1962). Based on Drake Bakeries and the reasons stated below, the Court sua sponte dismisses the first and second causes of action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3), and orders the parties to submit those causes of action to arbitration.
The underlying facts in this litigation were reported in OPEIU, and need not be repeated. In its first cause of action, Local 2 seeks damages for breach of contract. Specifically, Local 2 lists six acts on the part of WMATA that amounted to breaches of the three agreements wherein Local 2 and WMATA had agreed to submit to the arbitration process. In the second cause of action, for which Local 2 also seeks damages, Local 2 contends that WMATA's breaches of contract violated section 66(c) of the Compact, D.C.Code § 1-2431.
Before approaching WMATA's motion for summary judgment on these causes of action, this Court must first ascertain whether there exists subject matter jurisdiction. The well-worn expression, "hornbook law," aptly describes the proposition that the assertion of subject matter jurisdiction is open to question at any time, even on appeal by the court on its own initiative. At least since the decision of Louisville & Northern Railway v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 29 S. Ct. 42, 53 L. Ed. 126 (1908), which has been "repeatedly . . . reaffirmed," Sumner v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 548 n. 2, 101 S. Ct. 764, 769 n. 2, 66 L. Ed. 2d 722 (1981), the Supreme Court has held that neither the acquiescence of the court nor the consent of the parties can confer such jurisdiction upon a federal district court when none exists. Morris v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 226 U.S. App. D.C. 300, 702 F.2d 1037, 1040 (D.C.Cir.1983). This doctrine has been incorporated into Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3), which provides that "[whenever] it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action." Consequently, despite the fact that both parties insist that this Court has jurisdiction to decide the motion for summary judgment,
the Court is nonetheless required to inquire on its own initiative as to the source of that jurisdiction. Specifically, the issue is whether jurisdiction over the two causes of action lies in this Court, or instead with an arbitration board as provided for in the Compact.
The Court therefore holds that the first and second causes of action fall within the term "labor dispute." By alleging breach of the three contracts -- i.e., collective bargaining agreements -- Local 2 has raised a "labor dispute" by presenting a "grievance" as to the "making or maintaining" and "interpretation or application" of these agreements.
When a labor dispute subject to the Compact's arbitration provisions arises, the Compact's legislative history makes clear that this Court may not assert its jurisdiction; rather the dispute must be submitted to arbitration. Section 66(c) of the Compact provides, in mandatory language, that WMATA " shall submit such dispute to arbitration" (emphasis added). The Senate Report states that "all unsettled labor disputes between the parties will be referred to final and binding arbitration." S.Rep. No. 931, 92d Cong., 2d Sess. 10 (1972) (Senate Report). The Court is limited to either compelling or enforcing arbitration. See OPEIU 552 F. Supp. at 628, quoting Senate Report at 9.
This policy of the Compact favoring arbitration of disputes, including damage suits for breach of contract, is identical to the policy governing similar suits under section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act (Taft-Hartley Act), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), and under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq.
The correlative principle under the Taft-Hartley Act was set forth by the Supreme Court in Drake Bakeries. In that proceeding, the employer sought damages in federal district court from the union for breach of the collective bargaining agreement. The agreement provided for arbitration of "all complaints, disputes or grievances . . . involving questions of interpretation or application . . . of this contract, or any act or conduct or relation between the parties thereto, directly or indirectly." 370 U.S. at 257, 82 S. Ct. at 1348. The Supreme Court held that the federal policy favoring arbitration of labor disputes, see, e.g., United Steelworkers of America v. American Manufacturing Co., 363 U.S. 564, 80 S. Ct. 1343, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1403 (1960); United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 80 S. Ct. 1347, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409 (1960); United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S. Ct. 1358, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424 (1960), mandated that the breach of contract claim be adjudicated by way of arbitration, not the courts. Drake Bakeries, 370 U.S. at 264, 82 S. Ct. at 1352.
The same rule of law mandates arbitration of Local 2's first and second causes of action. The arbitration provision of the Compact is equally as broad as that of Drake Bakeries, and therefore encompasses the breach of contract claim. The policy applied in Drake Bakeries of referring the claim to arbitration to the exclusion of the courts applies here to Local 2's claims.
That distinction is of no import. If anything, it runs contrary to the position that the parties propose. If an arbitration provision voluntarily arrived at by consent of the parties, such as that in Drake Bakeries, can divest this Court of jurisdiction, then certainly a compulsory arbitration process mandated by Congress should do no less. In any event, the distinction becomes unimportant in light of the legislative history indicating that Congress enacted the Compact's compulsory arbitration provision precisely because the parties desired it. OPEIU, 552 F. Supp. at 631-32; Senate Report at 7. In that respect, the Compact's arbitration provision is as voluntary as that of Drake Bakeries. Thus, the distinction made by the parties in no way negates the analogy to the situation in Drake Bakeries under the Taft-Hartley Act.
An even closer analogy can be drawn from the Compact to the RLA, which under certain circumstances also requires compulsory arbitration. While "major" disputes, which arise in the course of bargaining toward the formation of future collective bargaining agreements, are subject only to mediation, "minor" disputes are subject to compulsory arbitration before the National Railroad Adjustment Board. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway Co. v. Burley, 325 U.S. 711, 720-21, 65 S. Ct. 1282, 1288-89, 89 L. Ed. 1886 (1945). A minor dispute under 45 U.S.C. § 153 First (i), "contemplates the existence of a collective agreement already concluded . . . . The ...