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United Steel v. Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc.

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

January 15, 2014

UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFL-CIO-CLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
APPALACHIAN REGIONAL HEALTHCARE, INC., DEFENDANT

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

HENRY R. WILHOIT, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon the parties' cross Motions for Summary Judgment [Docket Nos. 14 and 15]. The motions have been fully briefed by the parties [Docket Nos. 16, 17, 19 and 20] and for the reasons stated herein the Court finds that Plaintiff is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant Appalachian Regional Healthcare, Inc. ("ARH") operates ten hospitals, multi-specialty physician practices, home health agencies, HomeCare Stores and retail pharmacies in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia. Plaintiff, United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC ("Union") is the bargaining representative for certain employees at ARH's West Liberty, Kentucky, South Williamson, Kentucky, and Hinton, West Virginia hospitals.

A. The Collective Bargaining Agreement

The Union and ARH are parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") effective from April 25, 2007 through March 31, 2010 between the USW and Company governed the rates of pay, hours of work and other conditions of employment during that period, with a successor Agreement effective April 1, 2010 through March 31, 2013. A copy of the CBA is attached to the Complaint [Docket No.1-1]. Article 33 of the CBA sets forth the four-step procedure by which disputes arising the CBA are addressed [Docket No. 1-1, pp. 73-80]. If a grievance is not resolved by the fourth step, it may be referred to arbitration and the CBA sets forth in detail the process by which an arbitrator is selected and so forth.

[Docket no.1-1, p. 74].

With regard to grievances which are settled prior to arbitration, the CBA provides: "Grievances settled at Step 3 shall have local bargaining unit precedent value only, while grievances settled as a result of a Step 4 hearing shall have precedent value for all bargaining units covered under this master agreement." [Docket No. 1-1, p. 76]. With regard to resolution by arbitration, the CBA states, "[t]he award of the arbitrator shall be final, conclusive and binding upon ARH, the Union, and the Employee(s)." [Docket No. 1-1, p. 77].

B. Grievances Arising from The Reduction in Hours

Article 15(A) of the CBA mandates that the "basic work week for said Employees shall be forty (40) hours per week." [Docket No.1-1, p. 36]. Sometime in 2009, ARH reduced the number of hours in a basic work week for certain employees to an average of thirty-seven and one-half(37½> hours. [Affidavit of Randy Pidcock, Docket No. 14-2, ¶ 5]. In response to the reduction in hours, the local Unions under the CBA filed five grievances, on behalf of employees at four of ARH's hospitals.

For the employees at the Beckley ARH facility, Local Union 14310 filed a written grievance on September 11, 2009, regarding the unilateral reduction of hours ("Beckley grievance"). [Docket No. 15-2].

For the employees at the Morgan County facility, Local Union 9148 filed a written grievance on June 14, 2009, regarding the unilateral reduction of hours, alleging breach of the Agreement, citing CBA Article 14 and "all other Articles that may apply." [Docket No. 14-3].

For the employees at the Summers County facility, Local Union 14310-01 filed two written grievances on or January 5, 2011 and January 25, 2011, regarding the unilateral reduction of hours, alleging breach of the Agreement, citing CBA Articles 14 and 15 and "any other Articles violated". [Docket No. 14-5 and 6]. For the employees at the South Williamson ARH facility, Local Union 14398 filed a written grievance on March 10, 2011, regarding the unilateral reduction of hours, ...


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