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Professional Staff Organization-Oregon v. Oregon Education Association

United States District Court, D. Oregon

November 14, 2014

PROFESSIONAL STAFF ORGANIZATION-OREGON, a domestic nonprofit in Oregon, Plaintiff,
v.
OREGON EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, a domestic nonprofit in Oregon, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL PAPAK, Magistrate Judge.

INTRODUCTION

In this action to compel enforcement of an arbitration award, Defendant Oregon Education Association ("Defendant") moves, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 12(b)(6), to dismiss Plaintiff Professional Staff Organization-Oregon's ("Plaintiff'') complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons that follow, OEA's motion to dismiss is granted in part and denied in part.

BACKGROUND

I. Factual Background

PSO and OEA are both labor unions and parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("Agreement") which was effective from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2014. Plaintiffs Exhibit A, # 1-1. The Agreement contains a grievance procedure which requires final and binding arbitration to resolve disputes. Plaintiffs Exhibit A, #1-1, 10-13.

On October 16, 2013, Arbitrator Richard Ahearn presided over a dispute related to OEA's alleged failure to staff several regional offices as required under the Agreement. Complaint, # 1, ¶ 7. The issues with which Ahearn dealt were (1) whether OEA violated the Agreement when making staff cuts in various field offices, "thereby failing to maintain a 1:1 professional staff to associate ratio, " and (2) what remedy such a failure would require. Plaintiffs Exhibit B, #1-2, 3; Motion, #7, 4. The "1:1 professional staff to associate ratio" requirement derives from Article 19.3B of the Agreement. Plaintiffs Exhibit A, #1-1, 25. OEA employs professional staff, called "Uniserv consultants" or "PSOs, " who are represented by PSO. Defendant also employs associate staff, called "ASOs." Motion, #7, 4. Article 19.3B requires a 1:1 PSO/ASO ratio in field offices staffed with two or fewer PSOs, which imposes upon OEA a minimum acceptable employment number of staffed AS Os at each of its offices. Plaintiffs Exhibit A, # 1-1, 25.

On January 9, 2014, Ahearn issued an opinion and rendered an award ("Award") in favor of PSO, finding OEA "had violated the collective bargaining agreement and order[ing] OEA to staff the regional offices as required under that agreement." Complaint, #1, ¶ 8; Plaintiff's Exhibit B, #1-2. In his opinion, Ahearn relied on the ratio requirement in Article 19.3B of the Agreement and found that it effectively modified Article 4, which reserves OEA's "right to manage its operations and to direct its employees within applicable law." Plaintiffs Exhibit B, #1-2, 10.

On February 26, 2014, PSO requested Ahearn's intervention to address OEA's alleged noncompliance with the Award. Id. ¶ 10. PSO claimed that OEA "refused to implement the arbitration award" by "fail[ing] to assign any ASO staff to the field offices named in the award." Id. ¶ 9; Defendant's Motion, #7, 7. In his response on March 3, 2014, Ahearn acknowledged that

[T]he... arbitration was limited to determining whether the Parties' mutual intent... required OEA to maintain the longstanding one-toone ratio in field offices with two or fewer consultants. Based upon my conclusion that the Patties did establish such an obligation, in the Award I directed OEA to assign a full-time ASO to each of the five field offices that were not in compliance with the required ratio.

Plaintiff's Exhibit C, #1-3, 1.

Ahearn further revealed that OEA's rationale for failing to meet the one-to-one ratio in fact derives from an ongoing plan to close the five offices named in the Award after consolidating them with other existing offices and to then assign additional staff where necessary to meet the ratio requirement. Id.

Ahearn acknowledged PSO's allegations that OEA failed to assign any staff to those field offices named in the A ward. Id. However, Ahearn refused to step in to resolve the conflict, as enforcement of awards is beyond an arbitrator's normal jurisdiction. Id. Ahearn also refrained from addressing OEA's plan to consolidate and close the field offices because "any matter related to these ...


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