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Anheuser-Busch, LLC v. LOCAL 1, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

November 18, 2016

ANHEUSER-BUSCH, LLC, Plaintiff-Counterdefendant,
v.
LOCAL 1, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, AFL-CIO, Defendant-Counterplaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff-counterdefendant Anheuser-Busch, LLC (“A-B” or “the Company”) and defendant-counterplaintiff Local 1, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO (“IBEW Local 1” or “the Union”) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement pursuant to which they entered arbitration. The Company seeks to vacate the April 22, 2016 labor arbitration award ordering reinstatement of electrician Gerald Ray Squalls (“Squalls” or “the Grievant”), who was terminated by the Company on August 3, 2015. The Union seeks an order enforcing the arbitration award. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

         I. Background

         The following facts are undisputed except where indicated. The Union represents a bargaining unit of maintenance employees at the Company's brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, and the parties' relationship is covered by a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). The CBA provides for the filing of a grievance concerning disputes about the meaning, interpretation, application, and violation of the CBA.

         Gerald Squalls worked for the Company as an electrician and was a member of the bargaining unit represented by the Union. Squalls's job duties included working with high voltage and high-speed machinery, including palletizers, a dangerous piece of equipment with the capacity to crush and kill people. Squalls's supervisor Russ Mathis saw Squalls before the start of his July 17, 2015 shift and noticed that Squalls was slow and struggling to eat a candy bar. Mathis decided Squalls was not fit to work in that condition and took him to a conference room. Mathis and another supervisor filled out a Suspicion Observation Checklist, and the Company decided to test Squalls for alcohol. Squalls took a breathalyzer test and registered a blood alcohol content of 0.206, well above the legal limit for driving. A urine test for other drugs was negative.

         The Company suspended Squalls pending investigation. Squalls said he and a friend began drinking alcohol[1] at 6:30 p.m. on the night of his shift and that he stopped drinking at 8:30 p.m. because he knew he had to work at 11 p.m.. The Company was concerned that Squalls did not realize he was impaired and, taking into account that he and three other employees had been suspended for drinking beer at work in January 2011, the Company terminated Squalls on August 3, 2015 for violation of its Rule 9, which prohibits “Being in a condition which makes it impossible for you to perform your work in a satisfactory manner.” Central to this case is the meaning and application of the “Beer Drinking Memorandum of Understanding” or “Beer Drinking MOU, ” which is part of the CBA.

         The MOU states as follows:

BEER DRINKING DISCIPLINE
The following progressive discipline shall apply to any employee involved in the unauthorized consumption of beer on plant premises before, during, or after the employee's shift.
First Offense --- a one month suspension without pay.
Second Offense --- a second offense within a four-year period - A two-month suspension without pay.
Third Offense --- a third offense within a four-year period of having served a two-month suspension for unauthorized beer consumption shall require discharge.
It is further understood and agreed that:
1. The levels of discipline provided above are firm. No arbitrator shall have the power to reduce the level of discipline unless the arbitrator finds that the employee is ...

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