United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge.
Atlantic Distribution, Inc. ("NORAD") seeks to
vacate and the International Longshoremen Association, Local
1996-1 ("Union") seeks to affirm an arbitration
award ordering NORAD to build a fuel island structure at its
facility in Quonset to protect the fuel attendant from the
weather. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the Union and
determined that NORAD had failed to build the structure
within six months as it had agreed. Applying the required
"exceedingly deferential" standard of review to the
arbitrator's award, this Court affirms the award and
therefore DENIES NORAD's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 10) and GRANTS the Union's Motion for Summary
Judgment. ECF No. 12.
the discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement
("CBA"), the Union proposed that NORAD "build
a structure near the fuel island" because the island
attendant, who has pumped fuel into new cars arriving at the
port for over ten years, had been subjected to the extremes
of the weather without shelter. ECF No. 1-4 at 5. As
suggested by NORAD, rather than put the agreement in the CBA,
the parties entered into a side agreement. The side agreement
stated that NORAD "has agreed to build a fuel island
structure at its facility within six (6) months of the date
of this letter." Id. at 8.
failed to build the structure within 6 months of the
agreement, so the Union filed a grievance that ultimately
ended up before an arbitrator. After a two-day evidentiary
hearing and submission of post-hearing briefs, the arbitrator
(a retired Rhode Island Supreme Court chief justice) issued
an award in favor of the Union. The arbitrator found that:
There was an agreement to build a "fuel island
structure" at the facility within 6 months. Id.
agreement "clearly . . . was a term that was meant to be
a side agreement and thus should be considered part of the
CBA." Id. at 8.
NORAD must "complete the construction of a 'fuel
island structure' after obtaining permits."
Id. at 9.
"The meaning of the 'fuel island structure' can
be most succinctly described as a covering that anyone can
see at a gas station." Therefore, the "fifty foot
canopy proposed by NORAD cannot be considered a 'fuel
island structure."' Id. at 8.
filed suit challenging the arbitrator's award. The Union
filed a motion for summary judgment. ECF No, 10. In
opposition to the Union's motion, NORAD filed a
cross-motion for summary judgment claiming that the agreement
did not contemplate an enclosed structure (ECF No. 12 at
4-10) and that the issue is not arbitrable. Id. at
10-14. The Union opposed NORAD's cross-motion (ECF No.
14) and NORAD filed a reply. ECF No. 15.
federal court's review of an arbitrator's decision
... is 'extremely narrow and exceedingly
deferential.'" Ramos-Santiago v. United Parcel
Serv., 524 F.3d 120, 123 (1st Cir. 2008) (quoting
Airline Pilots Ass'n, Int'l v. Pan Am, Airways
Corp., 405 F.3d 25, 30 (1st Cir. 2005)). "Indeed,
it is 'among the narrowest known in the law.'"
Id. (quoting Me. Cent. RR. Co. v. Bhd. of Maint
of Way Emps., 873 F.2d 425, 428 (1st Cir. 1989)).
In the spirit of freedom of contract then, [this Court]
cannot review the merits of the underlying dispute and are
obligated to enforce the arbitral award unless the decision
fails to "draw its essence from the collective
bargaining agreement, " Though we may be convinced that
the arbitrator committed a serious error, if she is
"even arguably construing or applying the contract and