The opinion of the court was delivered by: PAUL FRIEDMAN, District Judge
This matter is before the Court on defendants' motions to dismiss.
Plaintiffs, an individual Metro Transit Police Officer employed by the
Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority ("WMATA" or "the Authority")
and the Fraternal Order of Police/WMATA Police Labor Committee, sued
WMATA and the incumbent union for the officers, Local 639 of the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, seeking a declaration that
plaintiffs are entitled to a representational election. In the
alternative, plaintiffs ask for a declaration that WMATA submit the
plaintiffs' request to arbitration. This Court grants defendants' motions
The following facts are taken from plaintiffs' complaint.*fn1
Until February 2003, the Metro Transit Police Officers were represented
by Teamsters Local 246. The officers were the largest unit within the
Local. The current collective
bargaining agreement, negotiated between WMATA and Local 246, was
executed on May 15, 2002, but was made effective retroactively from
October 1, 1998, through September 30, 2004.
Local 246 experienced financial difficulties, and the Teamsters imposed
a trusteeship on the Local in August 2000. Though the financial situation
of Local 246 improved somewhat under the trusteeship, in September 2002
the Teamsters proposed, and shortly thereafter the membership of the
Local voted in favor of, a merger with Local 639. The merger took effect
on February 1, 2003.
On February 7, 2003, plaintiffs submitted a petition to WMATA for a
representation election, which had the signatures of more than half the
members of the bargaining unit. WMATA nevertheless recognized Local 639
as the unit's bargaining representative on February 19, 2003. On March
25, 2003, WMATA denied plaintiffs' petition for an election. WMATA
invoked the contract-bar doctrine and argued that the election petition
was untimely, in that it was presented more than ninety days prior to the
expiry of the collective bargaining agreement. Plaintiffs filed a
complaint in this Court against WMATA and Local 639 challenging the
denial as an abuse of discretion. Plaintiffs also claim that their
dispute over whether they are entitled to a representation election is a
question "concerning representation," and as such should be submitted to
WMATA is the creature of an interstate compact, codified at D.C. Code
§§ 9-1101.01, et seq. Section 66 of the Compact, not the
Federal Labor Relations Act or the National Labor Relations Act, governs
WMATA's collective-bargaining relationship with its
employees and their representatives. See, e.g., Diven v.
Amalgamated Transit Union & Local 689, 38 F.3d 598, 601 (D.C.
Cir. 1994). Though neither the FLRA nor the NLRA is binding, the Compact
incorporates the NLRA's definition of "employee," see Compact
§ 66(b), D.C. Code § 9-1107.01 (providing that WMATA "shall deal
with and enter into written contracts with employees as defined in
section 152 of title 29, United States Code . . ."), and WMATA has
therefore consulted National Labor Relations Board precedent in
determining its responsibilities under the Compact.
It is in this context that the Court is presented with plaintiffs'
complaint and defendants' motions to dismiss, both centering on the
proper interpretation of Section 66(c) of the Compact. In relevant part,
Section 66(c) states:
In case of any labor dispute involving the
Authority and [its] employees where collective
bargaining does not result in agreement, the
Authority shall submit such dispute to
arbitration. . . . The term "labor dispute"
shall be broadly construed and shall include any
controversy concerning wages, salaries, hours,
working conditions, or benefits including health
and welfare, sick leave, insurance or pension or
retirement provisions but not limited thereto, and
including any controversy concerning any
differences or questions that may arise between
the parties including but not limited to the
making or maintaining of collective bargaining
agreements, the terms to be included in such
agreements, and the interpretation or application
of such collective bargaining agreements and any
grievance that may arise and questions concerning
representation. Each party shall pay one-half of
the expenses of such arbitration.
Compact § 66(c), D.C. Code § 9-1107.01.
WMATA and Local 639 moved to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for lack of
standing.*fn2 In the view of defendants, Section 66(c) provides for an
arbitration process between only two parties: WMATA and the incumbent
union. In support of this argument, defendants point out that the
provision designating each party to pay half of the expenses of
arbitration implies that there will be only two parties to an
arbitration. Defendants are correct that the Compact contemplates a
two-party arbitration process, but the Court is at a loss to see why the
incumbent union should always be one of the parties in other
words, why an individual employee would be forbidden from invoking the
grievance process. In fact, Section 66(c) might be thought to contemplate
the involvement of individual employees, by providing for arbitration of
disputes "involving the Authority and [its] employees."
To be sure, there are signs pointing in the opposite direction. The
Compact directs that in choosing the arbitration panel the "labor
organization" shall play a key role, and it is clear that most disputes
will see the organization as the representative of the employees.
See Compact § 66(b), D.C. Code § 9-1107.01. Here,
however, the interests of the individual employee plaintiff are at odds
with those of the incumbent union, Local 639, and defendants would
interpret the Compact to leave plaintiff with no avenue for his
grievance. Certainly there
is no clear expression in the Compact that would preclude an
individual employee from making a grievance. For these reasons, and in
light of the fact that individual employees often have access to
arbitration in grievance processes pursuant to collective bargaining
agreements, this Court holds that plaintiff Hill has standing.
Each of the plaintiffs raises identical claims in this action; indeed,
each has filed the same documents in opposition to the motion to dismiss.
It therefore is unnecessary to decide whether plaintiff Fraternal Order
of Police has standing. See, e.g., Watt v. Energy Action Educ.
Found., 454 U.S. 151, 160 (1981); UAW-Labor Empl. &
Training Corp. v. Chao, 325 F.3d 360, 362 ...