State Bar of Wisconsin Return to Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission Awards

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In the Matter of the Arbitration

of a Dispute Between





Case 51

No. 50599



Mr. Donald O. Schaeuble, International Representative, United Paperworkers International Union, 8021 West Tower Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53223, for the Union.

Foley & Lardner, 777 East Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee,Wisconsin 53202, by Mr. George D. Cunningham, for the Company.


United Paperworkers International Union, Local 7815, ("the Union") and FWD Corporation ("the Company"), are parties to a collective bargaining agreement providing for final and binding arbitration. Pursuant to the parties' request for the appointment of an arbitrator, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, on March 28, 1994, appointed Jane B. Buffett, a member of its staff, to hear and decide a dispute regarding the interpretation and application of the agreement. Hearing was held in Clintonville, Wisconsin on May 5, 1994. No transcript was taken. The parties filed briefs, the last of which was received June 7, 1994.


The parties stipulated to the following statement of the issue:

Did the Company violate the contract by treating the Grievant, K.H. as an inexperienced employe for purposes of initial wage placement? If so, what is the appropriate remedy?


The Company manufactures fire engines. In August, 1990, Grievant K.H. applied for a position with the Company working on the wash rack. After being interviewed, he was hired for a position on the press brake and he was placed on the wage progression at the inexperienced rate. The Company determined that he was inexperienced within the meaning of the contractual wage progression because he had only had nine months working in metals at Utility Tool and Body, only part of which was press brake work and that was not a computer-controlled press brake.

In March, 1992, after Steve Marg was hired, Grievant trained him on the Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) press brake. When Grievant learned that Marg had been hired above the starting wage rate, he complained to his supervisor, John Severns, that he was training someone who had been hired at a higher rate than the rate at which he had been hired. Severns responded by seeking and obtaining authority to advance Grievant two steps along the wage progression.

Approximately a year later, Grievant was again training a new employe whom he believed had been hired at a higher rate than his own rate at time of hire. Consequently, on April 22, 1993, Grievant filed a grievance alleging that he not placed at the proper wage rate when he was hired and his wage rate should be adjusted. That grievance is the subject of this award.




(70)(a) Any employee having a grievance, concerning the meaning of application of any provision of this Agreement, shall verbally discuss his complaint or grievance with his foreman, with or without his steward present. Should the matter not be adjusted satisfactorily, the complaint may be reduced to writing by filling out and signing in triplicate, a complaint on a standard form furnished by the Union. Said complaint shall specifically set forth his grievance and shall be countersigned by the steward of his department who shall keep a copy thereof. The original shall be delivered to the employee's foreman, who will acknowledge receipt of same by affixing his signature and the date on all copies. Such grievance shall be reported in the manner above provided within five (5) working days after it occurs if the nature of the grievance permits.

. . .


The Union

The Union notes Grievant's experience at Utility Tool and Body and the training he received at Brown and Sharp and asserts that he should have been classified as "experienced." The Union also reaches that conclusion by comparing Grievant's experience with that of other employes hired after him. It asserts the previous personnel director misplaced Grievant on the salary progression and asserts that work on a manual press brake in which Grievant had experience was more demanding than work on the computer-controlled press brake.

As to timeliness, the Union notes that the Company has voluntarily resolved grievances that it first asserted were untimely.

The Company

The Company asserts the grievance, filed two and a half years after K.H. was hired, is untimely and therefore must be denied. Additionally, the Company asserts the resolution of the matter in March, 1992 must be respected as the final disposition of this dispute. Finally, the Company asserts that Grievant was properly placed on the wage progression when he was determined to be "inexperienced."


The threshold issue of arbitrability must be addressed before the merits of the grievance can be considered. Grievant first complained of his placement on the wage progression in March, 1992. This action comported with the first step in the grievance procedure (See Section (70)(a) cited above), which requires an employe who has a grievance concerning the application of the collective bargaining agreement to discuss it with his foremen. In response, his foreman, John Severns, obtained for Grievant a two-step advancement along the wage progression. At that time, Grievant accepted the wage placement jump in satisfaction of his complaint about his wage rate.

The Union does not offer any reason why the March, 1992 wage adjustment should not be deemed as a settlement of Grievant's complaint. There is no evidence that either the Union or Grievant reserved the right to seek additional modification of his wage placement. Given these facts, Grievant's acceptance of the two-step advancement indicated there was a satisfactory adjustment of his complaint or verbal grievance as provided by section (70)(a) of the contract's grievance procedure.

The parties must live by their agreements, and grievances that have been resolved by such agreements are not arbitrable. If such were not the case, the parties would have no incentive to voluntarily resolve grievances short of arbitration and the collective bargaining relationship would be undermined.

Having found that this grievance had been previously settled, the undersigned concludes it is not arbitrable and it must be denied.

In the light of the record and the foregoing discussion, the undersigned issues the following


1. The May 13, 1993 grievance of K.H. is not arbitrable.

2. The grievance is hereby denied and dismissed in its entirety.

Dated at Madison, Wisconsin this 14th day of July, 1994.

By Jane B. Buffett /s/

Jane B. Buffett, Arbitrator