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ZAUCHA v. POLAR WATER CO.

February 2, 1978

JOSEPH E. ZAUCHA, RAYMOND H. BAKER, THOMAS L. FAGAN, SAMUEL A. MONTANI, JAMES M. BURNS, JR., W. F. HARDY, JAMES H. HUTCHINSON, JR. and CHARLES F. SALVATORA, Trustees of the Western Pennsylvania Teamsters and Employers Pension Fund, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE POLAR WATER COMPANY, A DIVISION OF BORDEN, INC. and PAUL R. BAKER, PAIGE EICH, RALPH D. CONTE and LAWRENCE G. IRR, and SOFT DRINK WORKERS, BEER DISTRIBUTORS, DRIVERS AND ALLIED EMPLOYERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION 250, and GENERAL TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS AND HELPERS, LOCAL UNION 249, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUMBAULD

 Under the declaratory judgment procedure provided by 28 U.S.C. 2201, the plaintiffs, trustees of a pension trust as authorized by 29 U.S.C. 186(c)(5), seek a determination by this Court whether certain individual defendants, who have been employees of defendant Polar Water Company and members of defendant unions, are eligible for certain pension rights under the applicable written agreements. The individual defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment, and it is agreed by the parties that the Court's determination may be made upon the basis of a stipulation of facts dated May 11, 1977, together with other documents of record, discovery having been completed to the satisfaction of all parties.

 It is required by 29 U.S.C. 186(c)(5) that the trust fund be used "for the sole and exclusive benefit of the employees" and by 29 U.S.C. 186(c)(5)(B) that "the detailed basis on which such payments are to be made [be] specified in a written agreement with the employer." *fn1"

 The trust fund for employee pensions was originally established on August 27, 1956, primarily for the benefit of members of the Teamsters' Union who were employees of motor carriers. It consisted of payments received from employers pursuant to the terms of collective bargaining agreements under Teamsters' auspices pursuant to which the employer agreed to make payments into the pension fund.

 As in force on July 9, 1975, it contained in Article I, section 2, the following definition of "Employee": "The term Employee as used herein shall mean any person on whose account an Employer is, at the time of reference, making Employer Contributions into the Pension Fund, or for whom an Employer previously did make such Contributions and who is, at the time of reference still eligible for benefits to be provided by the Pension Fund." [Stipulation, Ex. 5].

 Defendant Polar Water Co. became a contributing employer on September 1, 1958 and has continued as such to the present time [Stipulation, para. 9]. It has been party to a collective bargaining contract with defendant Teamsters' Local since at least October 24, 1956 [Stipulation, para. 4]. It has also been party to such a contract since at least May 26, 1954, with Local No. 250 of the Soft Drink Workers, Beer Distributor Drivers and Allied Employees [Stipulation, para. 3]. Apparently, that union is affiliated with Joint Council 40 of the Teamsters, although this is not expressly stated in the Stipulation.

 The contracts in force through the years between Polar Water Co. and Local 249 cover route drivers or salesmen and helpers. There is also a classification known as "Water Cooler Driver." [Typical contract in Stipulation, Ex. 2]. The contracts with Local 250 cover "bottling room, stock room, plant, case and maintenance employees, warehousemen, power-lift operators, shippers and checkers," *fn2" [Typical contract in Stipulation Ex. 1.].

 Individual defendant Paige Eich was a member of Local 249 from July 1949 until May 31, 1975. The three other individual defendants belonged to Local 250 from 1958, 1964, and 1965 respectively, until May 31, 1975. On the latter date all individual defendants, for unspecified reasons, resigned from the unions, and sought a statement as to their vested pension status. Individual defendant Paul R. Baker filed an application for pension. [Stipulation, paras. 10-13]. These requests led the trustees of the fund to investigate the eligibility of the individual defendants to pension rights, and to file the instant suit [Plaintiff's brief, p. 4].

 The question is whether the work of the individual defendants fell within the covered classifications, or was of supervisory character [Plaintiff's brief, pp. 9-10]. *fn3"

 In order to be eligible, insofar as service after the definition in effect on July 9, 1975, is concerned, the individual defendants' "primary occupation" must fall within a "classification in a collective bargaining unit . . . covered by a collective bargaining agreement" negotiated under the egis of Teamster's Joint Council 40. The scope of such agreements, insofar as pertinent here, has been outlined above. From examination of the affidavits of the individual defendants, the accuracy of which plaintiffs do not challenge, it is to be ascertained whether their work falls within the pertinent rubrics.

 The only questionable item is his acting as "route-supervisor" where he was responsible for "making sure that the driver salesmen carried out their jobs properly in delivering customer products and soliciting new accounts." This task seems like the work of a glorified driver salesman, pursuing the same type of business as before, but acting on a larger scale through other drivers and salesmen and ensuring their proper performance of the customary work. From 1972 on he was a branch manager.

 He did not negotiate any labor contracts; nor does it appear that he exercised any of the disciplinary powers of the sort ...


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