Ohio Union Denied Injunction Pending Arbitration Decision that Could Result in Elimination of Many Union Jobs

When the company and union began discussing a new contract, management announced that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had approved company plans to transfer two generation facilities to AES Ohio. Once the transaction was completed, the company said employees represented by Local 175 would lose their rights to transfer into open jobs at DP&L because they would not longer be DP&L employees. The Utility Workers local submitted a grievance and simultaneously filed the lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to halt the transfer pending an arbitrator’s decision on the grievance.

The union is not entitled to an injunction to block an Ohio power company from transferring more than 290 jobs to a nonunion subsidiary.

Both DP&L and AES are subsidiaries of parent company DPL, Inc. The union said the companies constitute a “single employer” that is bound by Local 175’s collective bargaining agreement.

“A federal court may sometimes issue an injunction to block an alleged breach of contract pending arbitration of a labor dispute,” Judge Thomas M. Rose of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio said. A court may grant injunctive relief if the dispute is subject to binding arbitration and there are “traditional equitable bases” for court intervention, including a showing that irreparable harm would result without an injunction.

“Local 175 failed to show the union or its members would suffer irreparable harm if they have to wait for the dispute to be resolved in arbitration,” Rose said.

If the union succeeds at arbitration in showing the corporations are a single employer, the combined companies likely will have sufficient assets to cover the cost of traditional reinstatement and back pay remedies for any affected employees.

Matt Austin owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm based in Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can reach Matt by calling him at (614) 843-3041 or emailing him at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com