Employer Southwestern Electric Cooperative entered into an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 702 regarding the number of union members’ sick days. The agreement included a grievance procedure and an arbitration process for grievances that could not be resolved internally. A union employee sought thirteen weeks of sick leave; Southwestern and the union deadlocked on whether the employees’ request should be granted. The dispute was submitted to arbitration and the arbitrator sided with the employee.
Southwestern moved to vacate, arguing that the arbitrator’s award did not draw its essence from the parties’ agreement and, further, that the arbitrator exceeded his authority in rendering the award. The court denied the motion to vacate, finding that the arbitrators’ decision “had a plausible foundation in the agreement.” The court further held that the challenge to the award was “substantially without merit” as the court could not “discern how [Southwestern] could logically believe that th[e] dispute was not subject to arbitration.” Accordingly, it granted the union’s motion for sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11, ordering Southwestern to pay the union’s fees and costs in defending the motion to vacate. , Case No. 11-1047 (USDC S.D. Ill. August 27, 2012).