abandoned (and well it should, since it has no merit) and replaced with the contention that the Union did not adequately protect the interests of its members in various ways in connection with the negotiations; however, this claim is not specifically pleaded. Primarily, plaintiffs argue that the Union did not properly consider their needs when it failed to advocate the lump-sum payments they now desire. Further, they allege that the Union did not keep them adequately informed, and, in fact, misinformed them by leading them to believe that lump-sum payments were being contemplated. Also, they now contend that the Union, in 1967, blocked a settlement of this case which would have resulted in the relief plaintiffs desire.
Jurisdiction is asserted under the Labor Management Relations Act § 301(a). At the outset, it is clear that individual employees may bring suit under this section for breach of a contract between employer and Union. Smith v. Evening News Inc., 371 U.S. 195, 9 L. Ed. 2d 246, 83 S. Ct. 267 (1962). More questionable, as a matter of logic, is whether an employee can sue his collective bargaining representative in the circumstances presented here. This issue seems answered in the affirmative by Humphrey v. Moore, 375 U.S. 335, 11 L. Ed. 2d 370, 84 S. Ct. 363 (1964). There two companies were consolidated and the same union represented employees at both. Some employees had to be released, and the problem arose whether the companies should be dovetailed. The union recommended that this occur, and the employer agreed. An employee who was discharged as a result sued the union for breach of its duty of fair representation. The Supreme Court held that the complaint stated a claim against the Union under § 301(a). The Court reasoned that if the union did breach its duty, the decision to discharge certain employees was void, and the discharge of plaintiff was a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. More on point is Smith v. DCA Food Industries, Inc., supra, where the complaint brought under § 301(a) charged that the union and company amended a pension fund agreement after one division of the company closed, resulting in unfair discrimination against a class of employees. The Court held, in part, that " individual employees may bring suit under section 301 against the union which represents them where the action is based upon an alleged violation by the union of its duty of fair representation. Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842, 87 S. Ct. 903 (1967); 386 U.S. 171, 87 S. Ct. 903, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1967); Humphrey v. Moore, 375 U.S. 335, 84 S. Ct. 363, 11 L. Ed. 2d 370 (1964)." On the basis of these cases, I conclude that this Court has jurisdiction to consider the claims against the Union based on a theory of improper representation.
However, the disposition of the claim against the Company governs the result on this issue. To breach the duty of fair representation, the conduct of the Union must be arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842, 87 S. Ct. 903 (1967). "A wide range of reasonableness must be allowed a statutory bargaining representative in serving the unit it represents, subject always to complete good faith and honesty of purpose in the exercise of its discretion." Ford Motor Co. v. Huffman, 345 U.S. 330, 338, 97 L. Ed. 1048, 73 S. Ct. 681 (1953), quoted in Humphrey v. Moore, supra. Here the Union's conduct in negotiating the terms of the supplemental agreement and other matters with respect to termination of the pension plan was based on its and the Board's interpretation of the contract which, as stated above, is a reasonable one. Summary judgment in favor of the United Steelworkers of America must be granted.
Plaintiffs direct another theory against the Union. They contend that it is bound by promissory estoppel to pay the lump sums that the men could have obtained from the pension fund, because the local union administrator promised the men that they would get such benefits from the Board. The Union flatly denies that any such statement was made. This claim is based on state law, but it arises out of some of the same factual circumstances as the § 301(a) fair representation claim, and is pendent to it. Again, the basic federal claim, though found meritless, supports consideration of the state claim.
Pennsylvania subscribes to § 90 of the Restatement of Contracts. Fedun v. Mike's Cafe, Inc., 204 Pa.Super. 356, 204 A.2d 776 (1964). It states:
"A promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forbearance is binding if injustice can be avoided only by the enforcement of the promise."
Since factual issues exist as to whether any promise was made at all or whether plaintiffs were induced to action or forbearance by it, the issue now is whether the alleged promise is one which, as a matter of law, could be relied upon.
The statement allegedly made by the Union official was, according to the affidavits of some of the employees, that the employees "would receive lump sum payouts from the fund and that he would see to it that the Union secured such payouts. . . ." The Union itself had no power to determine the use of the pension trust fund. This authority rested solely with the Retirement Board (Section 21). The Union could, of course, negotiate with the Company and Board concerning the fund. The statement made is nothing but a statement of the Union's negotiating position. To rely on such a statement as a promise that the Union would actually produce the benefits is unreasonable, even for an employee not familiar with the precise terms of the agreement. I conclude that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and that the motion for summary judgment must be granted.
AND NOW, this 13th day of April, 1971, it is ORDERED:
1. Plaintiffs' motion for confirmation of the class is GRANTED, and the action may be maintained as a class action on behalf of the class defined in the motion.
2. The motions of the defendants for summary judgment are GRANTED.
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