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MCKESSON DRUG CO. v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMSTE

February 27, 1997

McKESSON DRUG COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, LOCAL UNION NO. 730, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FRIEDMAN

 In January 1994, McKesson Drug Company fired Brenda Clark, a warehouse worker employed by McKesson. Ms. Clark subsequently filed a grievance with her employer under the grievance procedures set out in the collective bargaining agreement between her Union and her employer, a grievance that plaintiff asserts was deficient and therefore non-arbitrable. Plaintiff ultimately agreed with Ms. Clark's Union to submit the matter to arbitration. After the arbitrator decided that Ms. Clark's grievance was arbitrable, however, McKesson brought this suit against the Union seeking to vacate the arbitrator's decision under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185 (1978). The Court now considers plaintiff's and defendant's cross motions for summary judgment.

 I. BACKGROUND

 On November 30, 1992, McKesson Drug Company entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union No. 730. Among other provisions, Article 14 of the Agreement provided for a process by which grievances pertaining to discharge and other conditions of employment could be resolved through arbitration. Collective Bargaining Agreement, Art. 14, Pl.'s Mot. for Summary Judgment, Ex. 1 at 11-14. Article 14 of the Agreement provides in part:

 
A grievance is a complaint regarding wages, hours, working conditions or other conditions of employment which is a specific violation of the expressed provisions of this Agreement. An arbitrable grievance is a grievance concerning the interpretation, intent or specific application of the expressed provisions of this Agreement.

 Agreement, Art. 14, § 1, Ex. 1 at 11.

 Article 14 goes on to establish a four-step procedure to be followed by any employee harboring a grievance. The second step of this procedure is the focal point of the parties' dispute over the arbitrator's decision. Under that provision, the grievance must be "reduced to writing" and submitted within three workdays. In addition, "the written grievance shall provide the details of the alleged violation of the contract, the specific contract provisions allegedly violated and the specific remedy." Agreement, Art. 14, § 1, Ex. 1 at 12. Also important to this action is the provision that states: "Any grievance not presented to the Company as provided above shall be waived for all purposes." Agreement, Art. 14, § 5, Ex. 1 at 13.

 Ms. Clark's hand-written grievance, dated January 13, 1994, states that the nature of her grievance is "termination of my employment on 1-10-94." Pl.'s Mot. for Summary Judgment, Ex. 2. The grievance continues:

 
It all started about 9:52 pm. I was on the line working when I got this page to come to George Neal's office. On my way down I saw Linch and Jerry. I asked Linch what was up he said he didn't know. I had my clipboard with the order I [was] working on at the time in my hand. Linch told me to give him the clipboard and take my shop steward with me to see George. Once we reached George's office, Kim and L.R. Smith [were already there]. George began to tell me that I hadn't met my quota so they have no choice but to terminate you. He told me what I would get [as] far as money wise and then he told me to clear out my locker and collect all my belongings [and that] they [would] escort me off the premises. I told them I didn't need anyone to escort me. I can go by myself.

 Id.

 Upon receiving Ms. Clark's grievance, McKesson concluded that it was deficient, and thus non-arbitrable, for two reasons: (1) it was untimely because it was not received within three days after Ms. Clark's termination; and (2) it did not provide the details of the alleged violation of the collective bargaining agreement, the specific contract provisions allegedly violated, or the specific remedy sought, as required under Article 14 of the Agreement.

 The arbitrator selected by McKesson and the Union, Joseph Sickles, found that McKesson could not prove that the grievance was filed in an untimely manner. Decision and Award, In the Matter of McKesson Drug Co. and IBT, Local 730, Case No. FMCS 94-20663, at 10-13 (May 5, 1995), Complaint, Ex. A. Plaintiff is not contesting this finding in this lawsuit. Pl.'s Opp'n at 6 n. 4.

 The arbitrator also concluded that the grievance was filed in compliance with the terms of Article 14, Section 1 of the Agreement:

 
[A] review of the grievance certainly suggests that the Company was put on notice since after the words "nature of grievance," the employee stated "termination of my employment on 1-10-94." She then recited certain events which took place at the meeting that evening, during which (according to the grievance) there was discussion of her termination. Certainly, the Company was aware of the basic reason for submission of the grievance. . . . In short, I find no basis to conclude that the ...

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