United States District Court, D. Maryland
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, LOCAL UNION No. 639 Plaintiff,
AIRGAS, INC., Defendant.
THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
March 3, 2017, this Court granted a Motion for a Preliminary
Injunction filed by Plaintiff International Brotherhood of
Teamsters, Local Union No. 639 (the "Union") and
thus enjoined Defendant Airgas, Inc. ("Airgas")
from relocating its High Pressure Resisting and Liquid Can
Repair ("HPRLCR") function unit or its Small
Medical Oxygen ("SMO") function unit from its
Hyattsville, Maryland facility and from making any staffing
reductions or alterations related to those functions.
See Order, ECF No. 18. On March 14, 2017, Airgas
appealed this Court's Order to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. That same day, Airgas filed
with this Court a Motion for Stay of Preliminary Injunction
pending the appeal. That Motion is now ripe for disposition.
Having reviewed the briefs, the Court finds no hearing
necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6 (2016). For the
reasons set forth below, the Motion is DENIED.
findings of fact on which the Court based its preliminary
injunction are set forth in its prior Memorandum Opinion.
See Teamsters v. Airgas, __F.Supp.3d__, No. TDC-17-
0577, 2017 WL 1239259 at *l-4 (D. Md. Mar. 3, 2017).
Additional facts and procedural history are provided below as
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62, a court "may
suspend, modify, restore, or grant an injunction" while
an appeal of that injunction is pending. Fed.R.Civ.P. 62(c).
A party seeking to stay an injunction pending appeal must
show (1) a likelihood of prevailing on the merits of the
appeal, (2) irreparable injury if the stay is denied, (3)
that the other parties will not be substantially harmed by
the stay, and (4) that the public interest will be served by
the stay. Long v. Robinson, 432 F.2d 977, 979 (4th
Likelihood of Success on the Merits of the Appeal
appeal, the district court's grant of a preliminary
injunction will be reviewed for an abuse of discretion, with
legal conclusions reviewed de novo and factual
findings reviewed for clear error. Pashby v. Delia,
709 F.3d 307, 319 (4th Cir. 2013); Dewhurst v. Century
Aluminum Co., 649 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2011). Airgas
asserts that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its
appeal because this Court made two errors of law: (1) it
misapplied the standard for an injunction pending arbitration
under the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101 (2012),
and (2) it failed to hold the Union to its obligation to
satisfy all four of the factors required for the issuance of
preliminary injunction under Winter v. Natural Resources
Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7 (2008). The Court
discusses each alleged error in turn.
Standard for an Injunction Pending Arbitration
Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerk's Union, Local
770, 398 U.S. 235 (1970), the United States Supreme
Court held that the Norris-LaGuardia Act's prohibition on
issuing injunctions in labor disputes did not divest a
federal court of jurisdiction to enjoin a strike where the
union and employer were bound by a collective bargaining
agreement that provided for binding arbitration of the
dispute giving rise to the planned strike. Id. at
253. Lower courts have since interpreted Boys
Markets to allow federal courts to issue injunctions to
maintain the status quo where the parties'
dispute is subject to a binding arbitration clause in the
collective bargaining agreement, even absent a threatened
strike. See, e.g., Lever Bros. Co. v. Int'l Chemical
Workers Union, Local 217, 554 F.2d 115 (4th Cir. 1976);
Aluminum Workers Int'l Union, AFL-CIO, Local Union
No. 215 v. Consolidated Aluminum Corp., 696 F.2d 437,
441 (6th Cir. 1982). Such "Boys
Markets''' injunctions are designed to
preserve the integrity of arbitration and thus should issue
only if they are "necessary to protect the arbitral
process itself." Columbia Local Am. Postal Workers
Union v. Bolger, 621 F.2d 615, 617 (4th Cir. 1980).
Accordingly, the test for issuance of such an injunction
"is whether the conduct proposed must be enjoined
because the available arbitral process could not possibly
restore the status quo ante in an acceptable form
were that conduct to be found violative of contract
rights." Id. at 618.
asserts that this Court erred as a matter of law by
construing the Boys Markets exception too broadly.
Airgas casts the Boys Markets exception as applying
only where later compliance with an arbitration order would
be "impossible.'" Mot. Stay at 9
(emphasis in original). This position misstates the
applicable standard. The United States Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit has held that a Boys Markets
injunction is appropriate where an arbitration award could
not "return the parties substantially to the status
quo ante, " Lever Bros., 554 F.2d at 123, or
"could not possibly restore the status quo ante
in an acceptable form, " Bolger, 621 F.2d at
618. Therefore, the test for a Boys Markets
injunction is not whether any form of compliance
with an arbitrator's order is possible, as Airgas
suggests, but whether acceptable compliance is
possible, that is, compliance in a form that would not render
the arbitrator's decision "a hollow formality."
Lever Bros., 554 F.2d at 123. It is this standard,
based on a concern for the integrity of the arbitral process,
that is controlling in the Fourth Circuit, and that the Court
employed in issuing the injunction. See Airgas, 2017
WL 1239259 at *4 (concluding that Airgas's proposed
transfer of operations "would likely cause irreparable
harm to the arbitral process because that transfer would
amount to a 'fait accompli' that would
render arbitration 'a hollow formality.'")
(citing Lever Bros., 554 F.2d at 122-23).
real objection to this Court's determination appears to
stem from the Court's factual conclusions. Airgas argues
that an injunction is warranted only when, for example, there
is an "irretrievable loss of workers' primary
employment, " such as through the "sale or
liquidation of an entire division of a company which cannot
be unwound. Mot. Stay at 7. The Court, however, made findings
of fact that the proposed action would result in the
permanent loss of 13 Union positions, and that "the
combination here of the physical relocation of entire
operational functions and the permanent loss of positions,
some of which have already been replaced" were changes
to Airgas's operations that could not be unwound.
Airgas, 2017 WL 1239259 at *6. The Court
particularly noted that because Airgas planned to transform
parts of the Hyattsville facility-those that house the
operations to be transferred-into a storage area for
hazardous chemicals needed to bring Airgas into compliance
with federal regulations, "for all intents and purposes,
" Airgas's plan would "amount to a shuttering
of the factory doors for th[e HPRLCR and SMO] units."
Id. Notably, Airgas now reiterates, in an Affidavit
from its Vice-President of Operations submitted with this
Motion, that Airgas will repurpose parts of the Hyattsville
location into a hazardous chemical storage facility. Thus,
the Court appropriately concluded, under the prevailing legal
standard, that an arbitrator's award could not
"return the parties to the status quo ante."
Airgas, 2017 WL 1239259 at *6.
The Winter Factors
further asserts that it is likely to succeed on appeal
because this Court failed to require the Teamsters to satisfy
each of the four Winter factors: (1) likelihood of
success on the merits; (3) likely irreparable harm; (3) the