ILNews

Judges: Dispute can be arbitrated

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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A union and the owner of the facility the union wants to organize can proceed to arbitration to decide whether the facility is a covered workplace under an agreement requiring neutrality, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.

In United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union v. TriMas Corporation, No. 07-1688, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) brought an action in federal court to compel arbitration under the Labor-Management Relations Act after TriMas Corporation refused to submit a dispute with the union to arbitration.

USW informed TriMas, which was a subsidiary of Heartland Industrial Partners, it wanted to organize a TriMas plant in Auburn, Ind., which it believed was considered a "covered workplace" subject to the provisions of an agreement executed between TriMas and USW that required neutrality by TriMas when organizing. The agreement also included an arbitration clause.

USW and Heartland agreed the company and its subsidiaries would remain neutral during organization efforts and would recognize a union if the majority of employees agreed to have USW represent them. The company had its subsidiaries execute agreements with USW directly.

Later, leaders from Heartland and USW wrote a memorandum outlining which plants could be targeted for unionizing based on how amenable the plants would be to the efforts. The Auburn plant wasn't listed in the memorandum. USW never signed the memorandum and no other written agreement about the issue was executed.

When USW tried to get assurances from TriMas that it would remain neutral during an organizing effort at the Auburn plant, TriMas refused; the company also refused to submit the dispute to arbitration, arguing that the Auburn plant wasn't a "covered workplace" under the agreement between TriMas and USW as a result of the memorandum.

USW filed suit in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, which granted USW's motion for summary judgment.

The District Court was correct in granting summary judgment for USW, compelling arbitration, and refusing to consider evidence submitted by TriMas because the evidence was irrelevant to the question of the arbitrability because it didn't have to do with the interpretation of the arbitration clause itself, wrote Judge Richard Cudahy. Under the language of the agreement between TriMas and USW, the Auburn plant would be a "covered workplace" because the agreement doesn't list specific plants that it covers.

"Because this dispute is covered by the plain language of the arbitration clause and by nothing else, it should be submitted to arbitration," he wrote.
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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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