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Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority v. Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Union

United States District Court, District of Columbia

June 20, 2018




         Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the arbitration of four grievances, initiated by Local 689, Amalgamated Transit Union (Local 689 or the Union). The Union's angst is caused by policies under which WMATA checks the criminal histories of applicants and, on occasion, employees. WMATA notes that this Court has already entered a permanent injunction with respect to the first two grievances, and that the third is covered by an agreement between the parties to postpone any arbitration pending final resolution of the lawsuit, Little v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Civil No. 14-1289 (D.D.C.), which is now on appeal. WMATA contends that the fourth grievance is not subject to arbitration because no WMATA employee has been adversely affected by the policy under attack. The Court will grant the motion in part and deny it in part for the reasons set forth below.

         I. FACTS

         A. WMATA's Background Check Policies

         In 2012, WMATA adopted WMATA Policy 7.2.3 (2012 Policy), which set forth the criminal background screening policy and procedure to be followed by WMATA and its contractors when screening candidates or employees. Compl. [Dkt. 1] ¶ 26. Effective July 10, 2017, WMATA adopted a new criminal background check policy (2017 Policy) and the 2012 Policy was discontinued. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. Certain aspects of the 2017 Policy that affect current employees were announced in 2017 but are not scheduled to go into effect until July 1, 2018.

         B. The WMATA Compact

         WMATA was created by an interstate Compact approved by Congress and codified at D.C. Code § 9-1107.01; Md. Code, Transportation § 10-204; and Va. Code § 33.2-3100. Compl. ¶ 6. Local 689 largely represents operators, mechanics, maintenance personnel, and clerical personnel employed by WMATA. Id. ¶ 7. Section 66(b) of the Compact provides that WMATA “shall deal with and enter into written contracts with employees as defined in section 152 of title 29, United States Code, through accredited representatives of such employees or representatives of any labor organization authorized to act for such employees concerning wages, salaries, hours, working conditions, and pension or retirement provisions.” D.C. Code § 9-1107.01. Under Section 152, the definitional section of the National Labor Relations Act:

the term “employee” shall include any employee, and shall not be limited to the employees of a particular employer, unless this subchapter explicitly states otherwise, and shall include any individual whose work has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, any current labor dispute or because of any unfair labor practice, and who has not obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment, but shall not include any individual employed as an agricultural laborer, or in the domestic service of any family or person at his home, or any individual employed by his parent or spouse, or any individual having the status of an independent contractor, or any individual employed as a supervisor, or any individual employed by an employer subject to the Railway Labor Act, as amended from time to time, or by any other person who is not an employer as herein defined.

29 U.S.C. § 152(3).

         Section 66(c) of the Compact provides for arbitration of labor disputes between WMATA and its employees:

In case of any labor dispute involving the Authority and such employees where collective bargaining does not result in agreement, the Authority shall submit such dispute to arbitration by a board composed of three persons, one appointed by the Authority, one appointed by the labor organization representing the employees, and a third member to be agreed upon by the labor organization and the Authority . . . . The determination of the majority of the board of arbitration, thus established shall be final and binding on all matters in dispute. . . . The term “labor dispute” shall be broadly construed and shall include any controversy concerning wages, salaries, hours, working conditions, or benefits . . ., 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.

D.C. Code § 1107.01(66)(c) (emphasis added). Arbitration is, therefore, a statutory requirement and not the result of bargaining by these parties.

         C. The Collective Bargaining Agreement

         Pursuant to the Compact, WMATA and Local 689 entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the most recent of which was effective from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2016.[1] Attach. 8, Local 689 Opp'n to Mot. for TRO and PI, Selected Sections of CBA (CBA) [Dkt. 9-8] at 2.[2] In Section 102(a) of the CBA, WMATA recognizes Local 689 as the exclusive bargaining representative for a broad range of employees. Id. at 3. In Section 102(b), both parties recognize that their “legal rights, obligations and responsibilities . . . with regard to collective bargaining and resort to binding interest arbitration are specified in the WMATA Compact.” Id. Also in Section 102(b), the Union “reserves the right to bargain and where necessary to seek interest arbitration concerning all issues relating to wages, hours and working conditions” but explicitly “acknowledges that all matters pertaining to the management of operations, including . . . the hiring and establishment of standards for selection and qualification of employees . . ., and the development and enforcement of reasonable rules and regulations regarding employment are the ...

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