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MADISON HOTEL v. HOTEL & RESTAURANT EMPLES. LOCAL

December 16, 1996

THE MADISON HOTEL, Plaintiff,
v.
HOTEL AND RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES LOCAL 25 AFL-CIO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff requests that the Court set aside and vacate a June 6, 1996 arbitration award, which was granted after the Arbitrator concluded that plaintiffs laid-off several "bus" employees in violation of a collective bargaining agreement. Defendant requests that the Court enforce the award.

 Factual Background

 In July 1992, the plaintiff Madison Hotel ("Hotel") laid off its entire staff of "bus" employees, consisting of 12 people. The lay off was based upon the Hotel's decision to eliminate its bus positions and have its waiters combine bus duties with their waiter duties. Eight of the laid off bus employees brought a grievance to arbitration through the defendant Hotel and Restaurant Employees Local 25 ("Union"). Of those eight, six had been working for the hotel for more than fifteen years, and four for more than twenty years. The basis of the bus employees' grievance was there claim that the lay-offs violated the collective bargaining agreement.

  On January 2, 1994, *fn1" the Arbitrator issued a 20-page opinion concluding that

 
the Hotel violated the layoff, seniority and classification provisions of the Agreement ... insofar as it eliminated completely the Bus Employee classification, laid off all of the Bus Employees and transferred the substantial remaining Bus Employee duties to the Waiters, in the absence of a demonstrated business reason and good faith.

 Opinion of Arbitrator, Jan. 2, 1994 at 14. The Arbitrator went on to describe a balancing test that should have been applied before deciding to lay-off employees with many years of service to the Hotel.

 
It properly may be implied in the absence of express restrictions elsewhere in the Agreement, that the Hotel can reassign duties from one position to another, even to the extent of completely eliminating one position. Management's legitimate rights in this area, however, must be balanced against those provisions which are of great importance to the employees who have worked at the Hotel for many years, i.e., provisions which afford employees rights in the matters of seniority, classification, layoff protections, retention of seniority following a layoff, etc.

 Id. at 15. As a remedy, the Arbitrator directed the Hotel "to reinstate the Grievants to their former positions and make them whole for all losses."

 Subsequent to the issuance of the Arbitrator's opinion, the former bus employees, instead of reclaiming their positions, made a financial or other settlement with the plaintiff. Notwithstanding the settlement with the existing bus employees, the Union insisted that the Hotel was still required to restore the bus positions, even if that meant hiring new employees.

 In a February 6, 1995 letter to the parties, the Arbitrator clarified his opinion in light of the grievants' resolution of their individual claims. The Arbitrator interpreted his original remedy as a two-part process: first, the hotel was to restore the bus positions and second, it was to reinstate the grievants to those positions. The Arbitrator went on to state that:

 
At the point of offering each identified Grievant reinstatement to the restored Bus Employees positions, if any such offer to fill one of these restored positions is not accepted by a Grievant, such restored position becomes a vacancy subject to being filled in accordance with the applicable provisions of the Agreement. A restored position cannot be eliminated solely because a Grievant elected not to accept the offer to be reinstated in such position.

 Arbitrator's February 6, 1995 letter at 2. The Arbitrator continued to retain jurisdiction to resolve any outstanding remedial issues.

 The Hotel chose not to comply with the Arbitrator's direction that it restore the bus positions. As a result, the Union filed an action in this Court seeking to enforce his order. Civil Action No. 95-734 (SS). Because the Arbitrator had not issued a final remedial order, the Court dismissed the Union's action as ...


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