OSHRC Docket No. 78-4730

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

August 31, 1982


Before: ROWLAND, Chairman; CLEARY and COTTINE, Commissioners.


Office of the Solicitor, USDOL

Herman Grant, Regional Solicitor, USDOL

Robert E. Mann, for the employer

Leonard Rogue, President, Progressive Steel Workers Union, for the employees

E. R. Vrodlyak and Bruch Bozich, for the Union




The authorized representative of the affected employees in this case, Progressive Steel Workers Union ("the union"), has petitioned for review of an order by Administrative Law Judge Ralph B. Maxwell approving a settlement agreement entered into by the other two parties, the Secretary of Labor ("the Secretary") and Wisconsin Steel Division of Envirodyne Industries ("the company"). Commissioner Cottine granted the petition and directed review under 29 U.S.C. 661(i), section 12(j) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 U.S.C. 651-678.

Judge Maxwell held a hearing at which the union presented its objections to the settlement agreement and the parties presented oral argument. No testimony was taken but the judge admitted into evidence a written statement of the union's objections and a copy of the collective bargaining agreement between the [*2] company and the union. Following that hearing, Judge Maxwell entered an order overruling the objections to the settlement agreement, stating that the employee representative had "failed to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed Settlement Agreement . . . is unreasonable or improper." Judge Maxwell subsequently approved the settlement agreement.

The union's petition for review argues that the judge's order was inadequate because it is not clear whether the judge held that the union had no standing to object to the settlement agreement or whether he overruled the objections on their merit. In either case, the union argues, the judge's decision does not explain why the union's objections were found to lack merit.

We have recently held that an authorized employee representative that elects party status in the contest of a citation before this Commission is entitled to be heard on its objections to a settlement agreement between the Secretary and the employer. Mobil Oil Corp., 82 OSAHRC    , 10 BNA OSHC    , 1982 CCH OSHD P    (No. 77-4386, 1982). In addition, we agree with the union that the reasons for the judge's order overruling its objections [*3] were not adequately set out. n1 While the wording of the order suggests that the judge gave the union's objections full consideration, it is not clear why he overruled them. We therefore remand this case for a statement of reasons why the union's objections were overruled and for any further consideration that may be appropriate in light of our decision in Mobil. n2

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n1 Where, as here, a union objects to a settlement agreement, the judge is required to make findings of fact on the issues raised and to enter conclusions of law based on Commission Rule 100. 5 U.S.C. 557(c); P & Z Co., 77 OSHARC 211/F5, 6 BNA OSHC 1189, 1191, 1977-78 CCH OSHD P22,413, p. 27,023 (No. 76-431, 1977). We note that the standard for reviewing a settlement proposal is not whether it is "unreasonable or improper" but whether it satisfies the requirements of Commission Rule 100(a) and (b), 29 C.F.R. 2200.100(a) and (b).

n2 Chairman Rowland does not join in remanding this case for further consideration of the union's objections to the abatement measures set out in the settlement agreement. For the reasons explained in his dissenting opinion in Mobil, the Chairman believes consideration of the settlement agreement should be limited to any objections the union may have to the reasonableness of the abatement period agreed upon by the Secretary and Wisconsin Steel. Since the union's petition for discretionary review raised no objection to the reasonableness of the abatement period, in the Chairman's opinion, further consideration of the adequacy of the settlement agreement is inappropriate.


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