Labor Law – Arbitration – Necessity of According Individual Employees Right to Independent Representation in Arbitration Proceeding

Plaintiffs, employees of defendant corporation, were demoted from supervisory positions back into the bargaining unit. The collective bargaining agreement defined seniority as “an employee’s length of service with the company in years, months and days.” The employer credited plaintiffs with continuous seniority from the time they had originally begun work with the company in non-supervisory positions. Defendant union contended that time spent in supervisory positions should be excluded from seniority. The dispute was submitted to arbitration without plaintiffs being given notice of the proceedings or opportunity to participate. The arbitration award adopted the position urged by the union. Plaintiffs brought suit in equity and the trial court declared the award null and void and enjoined its enforcement. On appeal, held, affirmed, one judge dissenting. Since plaintiffs were not given notice of the hearing and their position was not advocated by the union, they were not fairly represented in the proceedings and should not be bound by the award. Clark v. Hein-Werner Corp., 8 Wis. (2d) 264, 99 N.W. (2d) 132 (1959), rehearing den. Werner Corp., (Wis. 1960) 100 N.W. (2d) 317.