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The Geo Group, Inc. v. United Government Security Officers of Amercia International Union

United States District Court, D. Colorado

July 6, 2017

THE GEO GROUP, INC, Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiff The GEO Group, Inc. (“GEO”) and defendant United Government Security Officers of America International Union and its Local 840 (“the Union”). See ECF Nos. 28-29. For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Union's motion [ECF No. 28] and DENIES GEO's motion [ECF No. 29].

         I. FACTS

         Plaintiff GEO is a federal government contractor that provides correctional and detention services for the United States Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and the United States Marshal Service (“USMS”) at a detention facility in Aurora, Colorado. Compl., ECF No. 1, at ¶¶3, 5. The Union, which is the defendant in this action, represents GEO's detention officers, transportation officers, field training officers, and kitchen officers working at that facility. Id. at ¶6. For the past few years, GEO and the Union have been locked in a battle over how GEO must assign overtime jobs to Union members. See, e.g., id. at ¶¶21-22.

         GEO contends that for security purposes its contracts with ICE and USMS require it to assign overtime jobs that come up under one agreement to only those employees working on that same contract. For the past few years it has therefore maintained separate lists of its employees and assigned overtime jobs accordingly. Id. at ¶10.

         The Union sees it differently. It argues that Article 4.9 of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), which went into effect on January 24, 2014, ¶13, clearly and unequivocally prohibits GEO from doing that. Instead, the Union contends, the parties' CBA requires that GEO use a single, comprehensive list of eligible Union members so that no employee is overlooked simply because of the contract on which they work.

         Arbitration To resolve this dispute, the Union filed a grievance with GEO roughly a week after the parties' CBA went into effect.[1] Id. at ¶21. The Union's grievance was relatively simple: because the parties' CBA had only been in effect for a few days, all that the Union requested was a decision regarding the parties' respective rights under Article 4.9 of the CBA. See Id. It did not initially seek any remedy. See Id. After GEO denied the Union's grievance the parties attended arbitration hearings before Arbitrator Daniel Winograd on December 10, 2014 and February 18, 2015. Id. at ¶¶21-23.

         On April 15, 2015 the Arbitrator issued an Opinion and Award (the “Initial Award”) granting the Union's grievance. ECF No. 1-4. The Arbitrator found, among other things, that Article 4.9 required GEO to offer overtime to employees regardless of the contract on which they worked. Id. at 12-23. He therefore agreed with the Union's position, holding that the parties' CBA required that GEO maintain one overtime eligibility list and offer overtime jobs under its contract with USMS to employees working on its ICE contract and vice versa. Id. at 18.

         The Arbitrator nevertheless addressed GEO's argument that its contracts with ICE and USMS required the use of separate lists and that the Preamble of the CBA, which seemingly incorporated this requirement, trumped any contrary provision within the Agreement. Id. at 18- 23. He found, however, that the Preamble and GEO's client contracts did not defeat the company's obligations under Article 4.9 because there were many ways GEO could comply with both provisions. Id.

         For example, GEO could obtain the same clearances for all Union members so that they were essentially interchangeable. Id. at 22. The company could also simply compensate employees on one contract bypassed for overtime work under the other. Id. What's more, the Arbitrator reasoned, some cross-assignment appeared to already occur at the Aurora facility with some regularity, undercutting GEO's argument that these provisions were irreconcilable. See Id. at 14. With that holding the Arbitrator urged the parties to subsequently “devise a plan” about how GEO could most efficiently and cost effectively comply with its client contracts and Article 4.9. Id. at 23.

         The parties were unable to do so. Nevertheless, they agreed to return to arbitration to have the Arbitrator decide how GEO must implement his earlier decision. ECF No. 1-5 at 7. The Arbitrator subsequently issued a Supplemental Award Concerning Enforcement of the Arbitrator's Award (the “Supplemental Award') on June 16, 2016. See generally Id. That Supplemental Award ordered GEO to give back pay to all Union members GEO bypassed for overtime in violation of Article 4.9. Id. at 10-11.

         Procedural History A few months after the Arbitrator handed down his Supplemental Award GEO filed suit against the Union. ECF No. 1. In its complaint GEO asserts only one claim to vacate both the Arbitrator's Initial and Supplemental Awards. Id. at ¶¶34-39. In response, the Union asserts three counterclaims: (1) for breach of the parties' CBA by failing to adhere to the Arbitrator's Supplemental Award of back pay; (2) for confirmation of Arbitrator Winograd's Supplemental Award in accordance with the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 9; and (3) for confirmation of the Supplemental Award under C.R.S. § 13-22-222. Def.'s Answer, ECF No. 18, at ¶¶18-27. Both parties subsequently filed motions for summary judgment. ECF Nos. 28- 29. These motions are fully briefed and ripe for review.


         A. Rule 56 - ...

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