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COLUMBIA POWER TRADES COUNCIL v. UNITED STATES DOE

August 22, 1980

COLUMBIA POWER TRADES COUNCIL (Union), Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and Sterling Munro, as BPA Administrator, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROTHSTEIN

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, and DEFENDANTS' CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

THIS CAUSE comes before the Court on the above-captioned Motions for Summary Judgment. After reviewing the Motions, memoranda, and other pleadings herein, and being fully advised, the Court rules as follows:

 In the General Government Appropriations Act of 1979, Congress imposed a 5.5% "pay cap" on wage increases for employees in positions funded by federal appropriations. See P.L. 95-429, § 614(a), (1978) U. S. Code Cong. & Admin. News, 92 Stat. 1001, 1018. This "pay cap", which affected most federal employees, was intended to restrain inflation.

 On January 4, 1979, the President of the United States issued a Memorandum directing executive branch administrators to take every legal step to extend the 5.5% "pay cap" to "nonappropriated fund employees". See 15:1 Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 8 (1979).

 In early 1979, the Columbia Power Trades Council (CPTC), representing employees of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), was negotiating to renew its labor contract with BPA. When BPA refused to offer more than a 5.5% pay increase, the parties acknowledged an impasse and referred the matter to interest arbitration under Article 9.02 of their Basic Agreement. See attachment to Affidavit of Robert W. Ayers, filed February 7, 1980.

 On June 26, 1979, the arbitration panel issued an award which called for an 8.53% increase in the wages of CPTC journeymen. The arbitrators derived this percentage by comparing the average rates paid by eight other major utilities in the BPA service area. The arbitrators concluded (2-1) that the President's Memorandum "does not necessarily apply to the negotiated rates for employees of the Bonneville Power Administration who are represented by the Columbia Power Trades Council." Exhibit A-24 to plaintiff's Complaint, filed October 3, 1979.

 CPTC now seeks a ruling to enforce the arbitrators' award of a 8.53% pay increase. Meanwhile, defendants seek a ruling that the BPA Administrator had discretionary authority to implement the President's 5.5% "pay cap".

 1. Plaintiff has clearly alleged a proper basis for the Court's subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a).

 2. Plaintiff has properly alleged venue in this judicial District under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e)(4).

 Plaintiff offers uncontradicted authority for the proposition that an unincorporated labor organization may be held to reside wherever its individual members reside. For venue purposes, a union may be found to reside in judicial districts other than that of its principal place of business. See United Steelworkers v. R. H. Bouligny, Inc., 382 U.S. 145, 86 S. Ct. 272, 15 L. Ed. 2d 217 (1965). Plaintiff's business manager testifies that CPTC includes nine constituent unions, of which four are headquartered in Vancouver, Washington. Affidavit of Robert W. Ayers, filed February 7, 1980, at p. 2. Mr. Ayers adds that over two-thirds of BPA's hourly employees are stationed in Washington State, of whom a "substantial proportion" are employed in the Western District. Id., at p. 2. This Affidavit is uncontroverted.

 In an action under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e), there is no requirement that all plaintiffs reside in the forum. See, e.g., Exxon Corporation v. F.T.C., 588 F.2d 895, 898-899 (3rd Cir. 1978).

 In this case, a sufficient percentage of plaintiff's members reside in the Western District of Washington to warrant a finding of proper venue under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e)(4).

 3. Defendants argue that plaintiff should be barred from suing to enforce the arbitration award until it has first exhausted all administrative remedies under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, P. L. 95-454, 92 Stat. 1191. Defendants emphasize portions of that law which declare certain agency actions to constitute unfair labor practices. 5 U.S.C. § 7116(a)(5) & (6). Defendants claim that to challenge BPA's rejection of the 8.53% pay ...


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