The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN
A lengthy history of absences from work apparently prompted defendant Mack Trucks, Inc. (Mack) to discharge plaintiff, who later sued both his employer and unions, defendants International Union, United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultrual Implement Workers of America and Local 677.
The unions now move for summary judgment or alternatively to dismiss the paragraphs in the complaint alleging illegal conduct on their part. In the pertinent portions of the complaint plaintiff alleged that
defendants, Local 677 and the [UAW] are the exclusive bargaining representatives for the plaintiff and members in his bargaining unit. That as the exclusive bargaining representative, the defendants have a statutory duty to fairly represent and serve the interests of employees without hostility or discrimination toward any, and to exercise its discretion with complete good faith and honesty and to avoid arbitrary conduct *fn2"
] [that] the defendants failed to adequately represent the plaintiff... in his grievance against his employer defendant Mack Trucks, Inc., as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement. The defendants have not fairly represented the plaintiff in contesting his termination from the defendant, Mack Trucks, Inc.
Complaint, PP45, 46.
The unions argue that alleging a breach of a collective bargaining agreement is essential to maintaining an action under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185.
Careful reading of the complaint, contends the unions, reveals that plaintiff has based his claim against them not upon violations of the collective bargaining agreement, but rather upon the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871 and 1964, 42 U.S.C.§§ 1981, 1983 and 2000e et seq., respectively. Jurisdiction under § 301(a), they conclude, exists only if the action involves a violation of a labor agreement. Plaintiff retorts that at trial he will prove union violation of the terms of the collective bargaining agreement by failing to represent plaintiff properly throughout his tenure with Mack. Therefore, plaintiff declares, § 301(a) provides a jurisdictional base.
In Adams v. Budd Co., 349 F.2d 368 (3d Cir. 1965), the of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a complaint which failed to allege that the union violated a provision of the collective bargaining agreement. The plaintiffs had contended that they could enforce a precontractual "super-seniority" company policy even though subsequently negotiated collective bargaining agreements ceded these rights. The Court of Appeals emphasized that § 301(a), absent diversity, created federal jurisdiction only with respect to "[suits] for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization". Id. at 370 (emphasis in the original), quoting the statute. Seven years later the Court of Appeals reviewed their conclusion in light of Vaca v. Sipes, 368 U.S. 171 (1967), and reaffirmed their prior statement. The court again found that the absence of any allegation that defendants violated the collective bargaining agreement precluded use of § 301(a) as a jurisdictional predicate. The plaintiffs had charged the union with unfair representation and "neglect and arbitrary disregard"o of plaintiffs' "fair interests" in negotiating labor contracts. The court found Adams controlling. See Leskiw v. Local 1470, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 464 F.2d 721, 723 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1041 (1972). These rules remain the law of this Circuit. As The Court of Appeals recently indicated,
Medlin v. Boeing Vertol Co., No. 79-1027, slip op. at 8-10 (3d Cir. April 22, 1980).
However, in the case at bar plaintiff has alleged a breach of the collective bargaining agreement. Although the breach could have been more artfully pleaded, plaintiff did allege that the unions "failed to adequately represent [him] in his grievance... as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement". This statement alleged a breach of a duty implied by law into the collective bargaining agreement.
Hence, charging the unions with unfair representation sufficiently alleged a breach of the collective bargaining agreement. Adams and Leskiw, cited by defendants as controlling authority, established a standard for completely different situations. Plaintiffs in those cases complained that the unions failed to represent them adequately during contractual negotiations. Here, by contrast, plaintiff did not allege that the collective bargaining agreement did not adequately reflect his interests; rather, he alleged a failure on behalf on the union to comply with the terms of the existing agreement. In other words, plaintiff did not complain that the bargain struck failed to protect his rights and interests. Instead he charged that the union racially discriminated against him in performing or failing to perform its duties under the existing contract. An allegation of this type supports a § 301(a) action.
However, plaintiff's failure to exhaust internal union remedies bars reaching the merits of his claim. Generally, a union member charging unfair representation
must exhaust available internal union remedies prior to filing suit against the union. Brady v. Trans World Airlines, 401 F.2d 87 (3d Cir. 1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1048 (1969), Hubicki v. ACF Industries, Inc., 484 F.2d 519 (3d Cir. 1973). Of course, under extraordinary circumstances or where exhaustion would be futile, this requirement is excused. Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171 (1967), Aldridge v. Ludwig-Honold Manufacturing Company, 385 F.Supp. 695 (E.D. Pa. 1974), aff'd, 517 F.2d 1397 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 937 (1975).
Dezura v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 470 F. Supp. 121, 124 (E.D. Pa. 1979), aff'd, 612 F.2d 571 (3d Cir. 1980). Exhaustion is also excused where internal union remedies are inadequate. Kobielnik v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 470 F. Supp. 125 (E.D. Pa. 1979).
Contending, however, that the futility of pursuing his internal union remedies excused the requirement plaintiff pointed to supposed hostility of union officers and delay in pressing his grievance. Plaintiff also complained that union officials told "fish stories" and did not prepare plaintiff adequately for hearings.Complete satisfaction with the degree of representation union members receive can hardly be expected in every case. The pertinent question, however, is not whether a union member feels content with the manner is which the union handled the matter; rather, the inquiry focuses on whether the union acted in bad faith. And even assuming union officers treated plaintiff discriminatority because of his race and deliberately procrastinated in acting upon his complaint, plaintiff still had the duty to exhaust the appeal procedure. Plaintiff contractually bound himself to do so when he joined the union. Aldridge v. Ludwig-Honold Manufacturing Company, 385 F. Supp. 695 (E.D. Pa. 1974), aff'd, 517 F.2d 1397 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 937 (1975). Just because local officers and members may shelter loathsome racial prejudices does not mean that the appellate union bodies feel likewise. Plaintiff's claim of racial discrimination is just the type of situation for which unions created appellate bodies, to provide a neutral forum manumiatted from the invective of a possibly hostile workplace and the peccadillos of possibly bigoted supervisors and colleagues. In other words, "animus by the local union cannot be imputed to the international body". Dezura v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 470 F. Supp. at 124. Plaintiff never gave the international union an opportunity to hear or act upon his grievance. Nor has plaintiff alleged or offered any direct evidence of such hostility by the international union. Plaintiff never embarked upon an available and adequate avenue of redress. In fact, he never even attempted to initiate the first step of the internal union procedure. To accept plaintiff's proffered excuse would allow him to act as a self-appointed judge and jury deciding the merits of his own charges against the unions. Sanctioning plaintiff's circumvention of this requirement also permits him to rewrite his contractual duties and responsibilities unilaterally. By sidestepping these procedures plaintiff deprived the appellate union bodies of an ...