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Ibew Local Union 714 v. Stax Electric

April 22, 2011

IBEW LOCAL UNION 714, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STAX ELECTRIC, INC., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Daniel L. Hovland, Judge United States District Court

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO CONFIRM A LABOR- MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE AWARD

Before the Court is the Plaintiff's "Motion to Confirm a Labor-Management Committee Award" filed on July 30, 2010. See Docket No. 9. The Defendant filed a response in opposition to the motion on September 7, 2010. See Docket No. 16. On September 15, 2010, the Court stayed this case pending resolution of a companion case, Stainbrook v. Stax Electric, Inc., No. 3:08-cv-084. See Docket No. 17. The Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order for Judgment in Stainbrook were issued on March 22, 2011. See Case No. 3:08-cv-084, Docket No. 67. For the reasons below, the Plaintiff's motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Defendant Stax Electric, Inc. ("Stax Electric") is a North Dakota corporation in the business of electrical contracting. On July 9, 1990, Joe Stenvold, on behalf of Stax Electric, signed a Letter of Assent ("Assent") "authoriz[ing] Dakotas Chapter [National Electrical Contractors Association ("NECA")] as its collective bargaining representative for all matters contained in or pertaining to the current and any subsequent approved inside labor agreements between the Dakotas Chapter, N.E.C.A. and Local Union 714, IBEW." See Docket No. 11-1. The Assent became effective on July 9, 1990, and can be terminated by written notice to the Dakotas Chapter NECA and to the local union at least 150 days prior to the anniversary date of an applicable labor agreement. On July 9, 1990, Stenvold also signed, on behalf of Stax Electric, an Agreement for Voluntary Recognition, acknowledging that a majority of Stax Electric's employees authorized the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("IBEW") to represent them in collective bargaining. See Docket No. 11-2. Thomas Rodgers, Business Manager for the plaintiff, IBEW Local 714 ("IBEW"), stated in an affidavit that Stax Electric has not provided notice to IBEW to terminate the Assent or withdraw recognition of IBEW as the bargaining representative for Stax Electric's employees. See Docket No. 11.

On September 18, 2008, Stenvold was notified that a grievance had been filed against Stax Electric. The grievance alleged, "Beginning as early as June 1, 2006 to present, Stax Electric has violated the current IBEW Local 714 Labor Agreement by employing individuals to perform electrical work without the benefit of the local union's hiring hall." See Docket No. 11-8. Rodgers states in his affidavit that the Labor-Management Committee of the Dakotas Chapter NECA ("the Committee") met on November 18, 2008 to consider the merits of the grievance. See Docket No. 11. The Committee unanimously upheld the grievance. On November 21, 2008, Stenvold was notified of the Committee's decision via a letter stating:

The Labor Management Grievance committee met on November 18th, 2008 in Minot at Local 714, IBEW Union Hall. This is to inform you that the Labor-Management Committee found you to be in violation of the CBA and you are:

To comply with the grievance and provide IBEW local 714 with a list of employees not referred by the local union and make employees whole from June 1st, 2006 including union working assessments. You are in violation of the following:

Article II, Section 2.12

Sections 2.03, 2.04, 2.13, 2.14

Article III, Section 3.05 Article IV, Sections 4.02, 4.07

Articles VI, VII, IX, X, XI

Article XII, Section 12.03 Article XIII, Section 13.03 See Docket No. 11-9 (errors in original). Rodgers states in his affidavit that Stax Electric has not yet complied with the Committee's decision and continues to violate the Inside Construction Agreement by hiring employees without using IBEW's referral process. See Docket No. 11.

On October 9, 2009, IBEW filed a complaint seeking enforcement of the Committee's decision, a $75,000 cash or surety bond, and costs and attorney's fees.*fn1 See Docket No. 1. On July 30, 2010, IBEW filed a "Motion to Confirm a Labor-Management Committee Award." See Docket No. 9. IBEW contends that the Committee's decision is enforceable in court and that Stax Electric did not timely file a motion to vacate the decision. Stax Electric contends that it was not afforded a fair hearing and any contract between it and IBEW is void.

A bench trial was held in the companion case, Stainbrook v. Stax Electric, Inc., on November 9, 2010, in Fargo, North Dakota. On March 22, 2011, the Court issued its Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order for Judgment. See Case No. 3:08-cv-084, Docket No. 67. The Court found that Stenvold had executed both the Assent and Agreement for Voluntary Recognition on behalf of Stax Electric on July 9, 1990. The Court also found that Stax ...


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