P&A Constr. v. Int’l Union of Operating Eng’r

The Third Circuit addressed an atypical situation and weighed in on an open question: Does the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) authorize a district court to compel joint arbitration between an employer and two separate labor unions, each of which has a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the common employer when those unions claim the same work under their respective CBAs? P&A and Utility sought to compel Local 825 and Local 15024 to participate in joint arbitration with them under the LMRA, either (A) viewing P&A and Utility as single or joint employers, or (B) under the auspices of a Harmony Agreement, treating the commitments of the parent unions as binding on Local 825 and Local 15024. The District Court rejected each of those arguments and denied joint arbitration. The Third Circuit affirmed and held that joint arbitration is available under the LMRA, either before or after the bipartite arbitration award at issue has become final. However, P&A and Union could not establish the “contractual nexus” required for joint arbitration, or that the overall equities favored it. The Third Circuit also denied joint arbitration under a Harmony Agreement because no party to the litigation was a party to the Agreement.

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