February 9, 2016.
from United States District Court for the District of
Minnesota - Minneapolis.
Minnesota Nurses Association, Plaintiff - Appellee:
Christopher Kent Wachtler, Wachter Law Office, Saint Paul,
North Memorial Health Care, North Memorial Medical Center,
Defendants - Appellants: James Mushat Dawson, Daniel Robert
Kelly, Jessica Molyneaux Marsh, Felhaber & Larson,
SHEPHERD, BEAM, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.
North Memorial Health Care owns and operates Appellant North
Memorial Medical Center (North Memorial or Medical Center), a
hospital. North Memorial employs nurses represented by
Appellee, Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA or the Union),
which employment is governed by a collective bargaining
agreement (CBA). Pursuant to the CBA, North Memorial and MNA
referred a grievance to arbitration. Unhappy with the
arbitrator's decision, MNA moved the district
court to vacate the arbitral award and the
district court granted the motion in part. We affirm.
23 part I of the CBA, in effect at all times relevant to this
dispute, provides: " A nurse with thirty (30) calendar
years of service at age fifty-five (55) or above will not
have a weekend obligation. . . . The above language will
apply except where this would deprive patients of needed
nursing service." Nurse Lynette Drake, knowing she would
soon meet these criteria, submitted a written request to
North Memorial that she be afforded the privilege of
work-free weekends once she became eligible on May 17, 2013.
Drake's scheduling manager denied her request, invoking
Article 23(I)'s exception for needed nursing service.
Under a procedure set out in the CBA, Drake grieved the
denial, North Memorial denied the grievance, and MNA, on
behalf of Drake, referred the matter to arbitration. As the
issue before us centers on the arbitrator's decision, we
describe it here in some detail.
defines a grievance as " any controversy arising over
the interpretation of or the adherence to the terms and
provisions of this Agreement." In a letter to North
Memorial included in the exhibits received in evidence by the
arbitrator, MNA described the grievance as follows: "
The Union alleges that the employer is in violation of
Section 23 -- Weekends, and all other applicable areas of the
contract. The employer has been and continues to deny Ms.
Drake the 30 year-no weekend option as defined in the
[CBA]." North Memorial characterized the issue before
the arbitrator in a post-hearing brief as follows: " Did
the Medical Center violate Section 23(I) when it refused to
regularly schedule the Grievant with no weekends?" On
the basis of these characterizations, the arbitrator set out
the issue before him in the form of two questions: " 1.
Did the Medical Center violate Article 23(I) of the Contract
when it refused to regularly schedule the Grievant with no
weekend work?" ; and " 2. If so, what is the
discussing the facts and the positions of each party, the
decision set out the controlling rule of law that "
absent contract language to the contrary, on matters
involving the right of the hospital to schedule work, the
hospital should be given broad latitude and the
hospital's decision should not be set aside unless found
to be arbitrary, capricious or discriminatory." The
decision next observed that under Article 23(I) qualified
nurses are " not required to work weekends,"
subject to the exception for needed nursing service. The
decision then noted that a witness for MNA described several
scheduling methods as proposed alternatives to North
Memorial's current method to show " that the
'exception' proviso is not applicable since there
were numerous ways that North Memorial could use to provide
the Grievant with the no scheduled weekend work benefit and
simultaneously ensure that patients are not 'deprived of
needed nursing service.'" After analyzing and
rejecting as unworkable each of those proposed alternatives,
the decision stated,
Based upon the foregoing, none of the "
suggestions" proffered by the Union and Grievant
allowing the Medical Center to guarantee the Grievant no
scheduled weekend work and still meet its core staffing needs
when a work schedule was posted from May 17, 2013, to the
present date were persuasion [sic]. Thus, during this time
period the Employer had the expressed right to invoke the
" exception" proviso in Section 23(I) and not grant
the Grievant the no scheduled weekend work benefit.
Safe patient care should be goal [sic] of the Parties and the
Grievant going forward from this date. To accomplish this
goal, the Arbitrator agrees with the Medical Center that the
Parties need a prospective standard for ...