2020 v. Sunset Industries-Southland, Respondent and Appellant.

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Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1, California.

Carpenters' Union Local 2020, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Petitioner and Respondent v. Sunset Industries-Southland, Respondent and Appellant.

4 Civ. No. 12600

Decided: August 29, 1973

Before COLOGNE, BROWN and AULT.

Carpenters' Union Local 2020, United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners of America filed a petition in the superior court to confirm an arbitrator's award following a dispute involving a collective bargaining agreement executed by the Union and Sunset Industries-Southland. The court affirmed the award and Sunset appeals.

On September 4, 1971, the Union and Sunset Industries executed a collective bargaining agreement whereby the Union was named exclusive bargaining representative for all nonmanagement employees of Sunset. The agreement provided any dispute concerning the interpretation, meaning or application of the agreement would be referred to an arbitrator.

On or about February 29, 1972, Sunset notified the Union it proposed to amend the agreement and include, among other things, a new classification of ‘cashier.’ The agreement provided generally two classifications, service counter employees and trainees. Operation of the cash registers had formerly been done by service counter employees whose work also include operation of forklift, warehouse and yard work, sales work and counter work. The Union did not accept the new classification but Sunset nevertheless employed Valerie A. Halversen to fill the position at a wage rate of $2.00 per hour. Her work included handling of cash and the cash register, talking to customers and answering the telephone. She does none of the other work normally assigned service counter employees.

The Union and Sunset could not reach agreement and the matter was submitted to arbitration on the following issues:

1. Did the company violate the collective bargaining agreement by establishing the classification of Cashier, and hiring Valerie Halversen in that classification at a $2.00 per hour rate of pay? If so, what shall the remedy be?

2. It the matter arbitrable?

The arbitrator found Sunset had violated the agreement and should pay Valerie Halversen wages at the trainee's rate ($2.75) from the date of hire.

The trial court upheld the award.

Sunset contends the arbitrator had no power to make an award because the agreement provides for the filing of a grievance by the employee and in the case at issue none was filed by Halversen.

Clearly this is a dispute arising from an interpretation of the contract and the Union, as a whole, initiated the grievance. The arbitrator cited Article XIV1 as his authority for finding the Union had an arbitrable interest and determined he had power to act. We must concur. If the language requiring an employee to file a grievance conflicts with this language indicating the Union as a whole has an interest, an issue is presented which must give rise to the arbitration procedures provided by the agreement.

Sunset secondly contends the arbitrator exceeded his power when he decided Sunset could not assign personnel to special work requirements since Section 5 of Article XIV of the agreement says, ‘The arbitrator shall not have the right to add to nor subtract from nor modify any of the terms of this agreement and all decisions must be within the scope and terms of this agreement.’ The arbitrator's award merely sets up the employee classification and specifies the rate of pay. Sunset's claim goes to the merits of the controversy decided by the arbitrator and is beyond our reach.

State policy favors arbitration provisions in collective bargaining agreements (Posner v. Grunwald-Marx, Inc., 56 Cal. 2d 169, 180). Any controversy arising from a collective bargaining contract which requires first a determination that a contract does or does not define the rights or duties of the parties in an existing situation is subject to arbitration, if the agreement provides for arbitration of disputes that arise out of the contract (Southside Theatres v. Moving P. Local, [27 LC ¶69,084] 131 Cal. App. 2d 798, 802-803).

The controlling remedial statutes (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 1280-1288.8) should be liberally construed and the superior court as well as the appellate courts must give every intendment of validity to the award. Neither the merits of the dispute nor the sufficiency of the evidence are reviewable by either of these courts (Horn v. Gurewitz, 261 Cal. App. 2d 255, 261-262).

The parties to an arbitration agreement must understand they will be bound by the decision of the arbitrator they select on the matters submitted. That decision is not subject to judicial review (Canadian Indem. Co. v. Ohm, 271 Cal. App. 2d 703, 707, 709-710).2 The parties here, having themselves specifically asked the arbitrator to determine whether the dispute is arbitrable, should not now be heard to ask for judicial review of his decision in that regard as being beyond his powers.

Judgment affirmed.

FOOTNOTES

1.  The collective bargaining agreement provides as follows:‘Article XIV-Grievance Procedure‘Section 1. All grievances and disputes relative to the interpretation, meaning or application of this agreement which may arise between the employer and the employee shall be adjusted by the business representative of the Union or his representatives and the employer or his representative. This includes the Union as a whole.’

2.  The court's powers are limited to vacating or correcting an award only upon specified statutory grounds (Code Civ. Proc. §§ 1286.2-1286.8).

COLOGNE, J.