On behalf of an aggrieved union member, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers brought a grievance against Verizon for declaring the employee medically unfit to drive a company van. A collective bargaining agreement provided for mandatory arbitration for all disputes under the agreement. Verizon alleged in arbitration that the dispute fell under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (“FMCSA”) rather than the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The arbitrator issued an Interim Award ordering the parties to submit to FMCSA dispute procedures before continuing arbitration. The American Arbitration Association cancelled an arbitration hearing and has since administratively closed the parties file. The FMCSA review process remains ongoing.
IBEW subsequently filed suit in the US District Court, alleging that Verizon’s failure to reschedule an arbitration hearing was in breach of the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s arbitration clause. IBEW moved for summary judgment on whether the underlying issue was arbitrable and whether Verizon was in violation of the arbitration agreement. The Court held that the crux of the matter was whether Verizon acted capriciously or arbitrarily when it found the employee medically unqualified to operate the motor vehicle, which would be a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Disputes under the Agreement are subject to arbitration. The Court also stated that because the arbitrator ordered the parties to submit to FMCSA procedures was not in error. Int’l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Verizon North, Inc., Case No. 07-3194 (USDC C.D. Ill. Dec. 3, 2008).