Challenge to Union Arbitration Ruling Leads to District Court

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NORTH SHORE — A federal magistrate has called on two opposing legal teams to file briefs in order to settle a pending dispute between Caneel Bay Resort and a union representing resort workers.

During a teleconference held Sept. 13 U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller ordered lawyers for the resort and the union to argue on paper why the court should uphold or deny an arbitration ruling involving unionized laundry workers.

Representatives of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers filed a grievance two years ago. The complaint said resort management allowed non-unionized workers to perform work that was protected under USW contract.

Lawyers for CBI Acquisitions, Inc., d/b/a Caneel Bay went to District Court July 8, asking the court to vacate an arbitrator’s ruling in favor of the union.

According to court documents filed by union officials, Caneel Bay and USW have maintained a working relationship for close to 40 years.

But when it was faced with an order to pay $21,000 to laundry workers for violating the collective bargaining agreement, executives from Caneel said the arbitrator exceeded their authority. They also claimed there were procedural rules that don’t allow any action that invokes the CBA.

The dispute itself, said Caneel lawyers, began by citing the bargaining agreement. “The complaint alleges that the union filed a grievance on May 30, 2014 and that the union appealed the grievance to arbitration. According to the complaint, the matter finally went to a hearing before Arbitrator Barbara J. Wood on Jan 27, 2016,” resort attorneys said.

“The complaint alleges that the issue presented at arbitration was whether Caneel violated the CBA when it deprived laundry employees of hours of work while having non-bargaining unit employees perform their duties.”

USW lawyers responded, asking the court to toss the Caneel Bay complaint and award the workers $20,723.36.

“Caneel has refused to pay the back pay amount and refused to abide by the award,” they said.

After the Tuesday teleconference, Miller told both sides to file dispositive briefs simultaneously. She would consider both arguments and then give a final ruling on the outcome of the case.

Parties were given until Oct. 14 to comply with the magistrate’s order.