Approximately three months later the employee was dismissed for poor work performance. A grievance was filed and pursued without resolution. CWA demanded arbitration and the parties selected an arbitrator and scheduled a hearing date. At the hearing the Company, for the first time, refused to arbitrate the dispute. It claimed that the right to arbitration had been waived by the LCA. CWA filed suit to compel arbitration, and the District Court for the Western District of Missouri has granted the Union's request.
The Court described the issue before it as:
whether the LCA entered into between [grievant] and SWBT supersedes the rights of CWA under the CBA with regard to the arbitrability of grievances. Specifically, Plaintiff contends [grievant's] termination, for alleged just cause, should be subject to arbitration pursuant to Article IV. Defendant claims the right to arbitrate under the CBA was waived when [grievant] voluntarily signed the LCA.
Rejecting the Company's contention that the right to arbitrate the dispute had been waived by the LCA, the Court concluded that the Union's absence as a party to the agreement rendered the agreement essentially unenforceable. The Court noted that the Eighth Circuit had previously held (in Coca-Cola Bottling Company of St. Louis v. Teamsters Local Union No. 688) that a last chance agreement between a Company and Union could effectively modify a cba and bar arbitration of the just cause issue in a subsequent dispute. It noted further, however, that the Eighth Circuit had more recently cautioned against too broad a reading of its decision. In Associated Electric Coop. Inc v. IBEW Local No. 53 the Court refused to bar arbitration where the Union was not a party to the LCA. The District Court also observed that in both cases resolution of the impact of the LCA took place after the arbitrator had issued an award.
The Court agreed with CWA that: