The opinion of the court was delivered by: COLLEEN KOTELLY, District Judge
Presently before the Court are the parties' cross Motions for
Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, the Union that represents Verizon
workers, is suing Verizon over Verizon's failure to implement
Plaintiff's interpretation of an arbitration award. The
underlying dispute for which the parties sought arbitration
concerns the time when Verizon employees must be permitted to
take vacation days upon request. Although the arbitrator ruled in
favor of Plaintiff, the parties now dispute whether the
arbitration award requires Verizon to grant requests for vacation
made with less than a day's notice.
After consideration of the parties' motions, briefs, and
supporting documentation, as well as the underlying arbitration
award and the relevant law, the Court finds that Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment shall be granted, and Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment shall be denied.
I. MATERIAL FACTS NOT IN DISPUTE
The material facts of this case are straightforward and
undisputed. Plaintiff Communications Workers of America ("CWA" or "the Union") is the
labor organization and collective bargaining representative for a
unit of Verizon employees in the District of Columbia, Maryland,
Virginia and West Virginia. Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 1. Defendants
(collectively "Verizon") are two Verizon entities: Verizon
Services, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and Verizon Maryland, a
Maryland corporation. Id. ¶ 2. CWA and Verizon have been
parties to successive collective bargaining agreements covering,
in part, the working conditions of the employees in the
bargaining unit represented by CWA. Id. ¶ 3.
In late 1999 and early 2000, a dispute arose between Verizon
and CWA over vacation scheduling procedures. Id. ¶ 10. The
parties arbitrated this dispute before Arbitrator Margery
Gootnick, who issued her Opinion and Award on May 1, 2000. Id.
¶¶ 10, 12. The dispute concerned the interaction of a portion of
the 1998 General Agreement and a subsequent 1998 Memorandum of
Understanding ("1998 MOU"). Id. ¶¶ 7-8. Article 31, Section 10
of the General Agreement addresses the allocation and
administration of vacation time. Id. ¶ 7. The 1998 MOU
addresses, among other issues, Vacation Scheduling Percentages
and the "17 percent rule," which states that "[d]uring 1999, at
least 17% of the employees in each vacation administrative work
group shall be permitted to schedule off in a given
week."*fn1 Id. ¶ 8. The parties' submitted the following
Stipulated Issue to Arbitrator Gootnick: "Does the Company
violate the 1998 Common Issues Memorandum of Understanding by
denying vacation even though less that 17 percent of the work
group is off; and, if so, what is the appropriate remedy?" Id.
¶ 11. Plaintiff has shown that at least one of the examples of a
vacation request denial that led to the arbitration involved a last minute vacation request.
See Pl.'s Mot. Ex. 5 (Lewis Grievance). The grievance filed by
Anna Lewis involved a last minute request for vacation due to a
death in her family, at a time when less than 17 percent of the
work force was off. Pl.'s Mot. Ex. 5. Lewis' request for vacation
was denied, and she was instead "granted excused time unpaid."
Id. at 2.
In the Opinion and Award, Arbitrator Gootnick found that the
language of the 1998 MOU superceded the language of the 1998
General Agreement to the extent necessary to effectuate the 17
percent rule. Id. ¶ 12. Specifically, she held that "[t]he
Company shall cease and desist from denying vacation or
rescheduling of vacation when less than 17% of a work group is
off." Id. ¶ 12. Specifically, the award states that "[t]he
Memorandum of Understanding provides that at least 17% of the
employees in each vacation administration work group shall be
permitted to schedule off in a given week," and that "[t]here is
nothing in the Memorandum of Understanding that requires a
specific time period for scheduling (or rescheduling) vacation."
Pl.'s Mot. Ex. 1 (Arbitration Award) at 24. The award states that
"up to 17% of the employees in each work group can take vacation
based on the earliest request on any day. The Company may deny
vacation based on force and load only after 17% has been
reached. . . ." Id. (emphasis added). Arbitrator Gootnick
addresses the possibility that the award may result in last minute
scheduling changes, finding that the Memorandum of Understanding
"may require overtime or last minute scheduling of additional
employees at certain times or getting by with the employees on
duty. Nevertheless, the Union has satisfied its burden of
establishing that the Memorandum of Understanding applies in all
circumstances related to vacation." Id. at 31. She found "no
language in the Memorandum of Understanding that limits its
application," and that it "is broadly phrased and applies to all vacation selection and scheduling."
Id. at 31-32. Ultimately, she held that "[t]he Memorandum of
Understanding requires the Company to permit employees to take
vacation in order of request whenever less than 17% of the work
force is not off." Id. at 32.
Although Arbitrator Gootnick's Award explicitly addressed the
scheduling and rescheduling of vacation days, it did not deal
substantively with the provision of the MOU addressing Short
Notice Excused Workdays ("SNEWDs"),*fn2 which are a category
of days off requested with less than 24 hours notice before the
start of the worker's shift.*fn3 Id. ¶ 12. After the
issuance of the arbitration award, the parties removed Arbitrator
Gootnick from the panel of arbitrators eligible to decide
grievances between the Union and Verizon. Id. ¶ 14; Def.'s Mot.
Ex. F (Letter to Gootnick).
The arbitration award notwithstanding, Verizon has denied
vacation requests made with less than 24 hours notice. Compl. ¶¶
15-16; Def.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 33, 35; Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 6. In light of this
circumstance, the Union subsequently requested that Arbitrator
Gootnick accept remand on the question of whether Verizon is
permitted to require advance notice for vacation requests, or whether vacation requests made within 24 hours of a worker's
shift must be granted if less than 17 percent of the workgroup is
scheduled for vacation.*fn4 Def.'s Stmt. ¶ 15; Def.'s Mot.
Ex. G (Union Remand Request). Verizon opposed the Union's request
to submit this question to Arbitrator Gootnick, arguing that the
question raised a new issue outside the scope of the grievance
that had been submitted to Arbitrator Gootnick. Def.'s Stmt. ¶
16; Def.'s Mot. Ex. H (Verizon Objection to Remand). On December
6, 2005, Arbitrator Gootnick declined to accept remand. Def.'s
Stmt. ¶ 17; Def.'s Mot. Ex. I (Gootnick Remand Declination). In
her letter declining to accept remand, she wrote that "on the
facts of this matter I am unable to accede to your request to
assert authority to accept remand of the 17% Vacation Case for
clarification purposes," and noted that "[a]ny further discussion
of your documents and [Verizon's] letter would be inappropriate."
Def.'s Mot. Ex. I (Gootnick Remand Declination).
A party is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and affidavits
demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact in
dispute and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Tao v. Freeh,
27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir. 1994). Although a court should draw all
reasonable inferences from the supporting records submitted by
the nonmoving party, the mere existence of a factual dispute, by
itself, is not sufficient to bar summary judgment. See Anderson
v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The adverse
party's pleadings must evince the existence of a genuine issue of material fact. See id. at
247-48. To be material the factual assertion must be capable of
affecting the substantive outcome of the litigation; to be
genuine, the issue must be supported by sufficiently admissible
evidence such that a reasonable trier-offact could find for the
nonmoving party. See id.; Aka v. Washington Hosp. Ctr.,
116 F.3d 876, 879 (D.C. Cir. 1997); Laningham v. United States
Navy, 813 F.2d 1236, 1242-43 (D.C. Cir. 1987). Mere allegations
or denials in the adverse party's pleadings are insufficient to
defeat an otherwise proper motion for summary judgment. Rather,
the nonmoving party bears the affirmative duty to present, by
affidavits or other means, specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial; not simply "show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); see
also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248-49. No genuine issue of material
fact exists "[w]here the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party." Id. at
The parties to this suit have filed cross motions for summary
judgment, and do not dispute the surrounding facts and
circumstances. Rather, the parties dispute whether Arbitrator
Gootnick's award requires Verizon to grant workers' vacation
requests made with less than 24 hours notice. Verizon contends
that the issue of such short notice requests was not part of the
arbitration award, and that the question must be submitted for a
separate arbitration proceeding. The Union contends that the
Arbitrator's award contemplated these short notice requests, and
asks the Court to require Verizon to grant vacation requests made
with less than 24 hours notice. In the alternative, the Union
would have the Court order a remand to Arbitrator Gootnick to clarify her award on this point.
After consideration of the parties' arguments, it is clear to
the Court that Arbitrator Gootnick's award applied the 17 percent
rule to vacation requests made at any time. It is also clear that
the issue of the timing of vacation requests was considered as
part of the original arbitration, and that Verizon should have
raised any related arguments, including the relevance of SNEWDs,
during the original arbitration. The record compels the Court to
find that the arbitration award is unambiguous, and applies the
17 percent rule to vacation requests made at any time, including
the 24 ...