faith exercise of that right can hardly be construed as a breach of its duty of fair representation.
Although Local 312 would have been better advised to have given Larry notice of the time and place of the June 2, 1980 hearing, I cannot conclude that it breached its duty of fair representation by failing to do so. Larry's interests were admittedly at stake at the Special Joint Committee hearing, but Maggi was the grievant. Furthermore, Larry knew that a grievance had been filed on Maggi's behalf following his layoff, but Larry never did anything to keep abreast of the status of that grievance. See Fox v. Mitchell Transport, Inc., 506 F. Supp. 1346, 1354 (D. Md. 1981). More importantly, there is nothing to show that Larry was prejudiced by the lack of notice. Tamavich apprised the Special Joint Committee of the facts in support of Larry's position. Those facts were never disputed. Instead the Special Joint Committee decided the matter on the ground that Larry did not timely file a grievance after learning of the violation of his seniority rights. Hence, even assuming that Local 312 acted arbitrarily in failing to notify Larry of the June 2, 1980 hearing, Larry has not shown that the union's failure "contribute[d] to the erroneous outcome of the contractual proceedings." Hines v. Anchor Motor Freight, supra, 424 U.S. at 568.
Similarly, I am not persuaded that Burke's appearance at the June 2, 1980 hearing constituted arbitrary and perfunctory conduct by Local 312. Burke was president of the local and presumably was as familiar with the contract as DiLuzio. Burke's familiarity with the circumstances of the seniority dispute may have been less than DiLuzio's, but this is understandable since Burke was asked to substitute for DiLuzio on the eve of the hearing. Whatever shortcomings there may have been in Burke's presentation, however, did not affect the outcome of the hearing. The Special Joint Committee was presented with the material facts and made a decision on that basis. That decision is supported by the language of the collective bargaining agreement and cannot be upset merely because of Larry's dissatisfaction with his union. Hubicki v. ACF Industries, Inc., 484 F.2d 519, 526 (3d Cir. 1973).
Hindsight may indicate that Local 312's representation of Larry fell below that standard which we normally would expect of an attorney. But, "it would be unrealistic to require workers 'grieving' on a part-time basis to come up to some judicially devised standard of competent representation akin to that required of lawyers on pain of being found to have committed professional malpractice." Dober v. Roadway Express, Inc., 707 F.2d 292, 294-95 (7th Cir. 1983). Thus, all that is required is that the union act in a good faith, non-arbitrary, and non-discriminatory manner. Because no material issue of fact exists as to whether that standard was met in this case, PTA's motion for summary judgment will be granted.
Link and Tamavich
Since Larry cannot establish that Local 312 breached its duty of fair representation, the Special Joint Committee's decision of June 2, 1980 is final and binding. Therefore, Larry is collaterally estopped from litigating in this court that Link and Tamavich tortiously interfered with his seniority rights. Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. v. Newspaper Guild, 647 F.2d 372, 383 (3d Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1143, 71 L. Ed. 2d 295, 102 S. Ct. 1003 (1982). Even apart from the doctrine of collateral estoppel, there are alternative reasons for entering summary judgment in favor of Link and Tamavich.
The record on this motion discloses that Link's total involvement in this case stems from his service as a member of the Special Joint Committee. In this role, he is clothed with absolute arbitral immunity. Cahn v. International Ladies' Garment Union, 311 F.2d 113, 115 (3d Cir. 1962) (per curiam). Larry's unsupported suggestion that Link may have exceeded the scope of his immunity is insufficient to raise an issue of fact.
The sole claim against Tamavich is that he tortiously interfered with Larry's rights under the agreement between PTA and Local 312. Tamavich points out that he is a corporate officer of PTA and, as such, he argues that he cannot be held liable for tortiously interfering with the corporation's contractual obligations. I agree. As I explained in my earlier opinion, see Larry v. Penn Truck Aids, Inc., supra, 94 F.R.D. at 723, the claim for tortious interference with a collective bargaining agreement arises under federal common law and falls within the court's jurisdiction under § 301 of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 185. Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. v. Newspaper Guild, supra, at 381. Thus federal law must be looked to in order to determine whether Tamavich can be liable for tortious interference with his principal's collective bargaining agreement. Existing federal law, however, provides little guidance in this area. It is certain that individual union members, acting on behalf of their union, are immune under § 301(b), 29 U.S.C. § 185(b), from damage liability for tortiously interfering with a collective bargaining agreement between their union and the plaintiff. Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U.S. 238, 248-49, 8 L. Ed. 2d 462, 82 S. Ct. 1318 (1962); Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. v. Newspaper Guild, supra, at 377. Although the Atkinson ratio decidendi would not seem to support it, Atkinson has been cited for the broader proposition that individuals generally, with the exception of the employer who is an individual, cannot be made parties to a cause of action for breach of contract under § 301. Spielmann v. Anchor Motor Freight, Inc., 551 F. Supp. 817, 820 n.2 (S.D.N.Y. 1982); Hall v. Pacific Maritime Association, 281 F. Supp. 54, 61 (N.D. Cal. 1968). In the absence of any binding federal authority, "state law, if compatible with the § 301, may be resorted to in order to find the rule that will best effectuate federal policy." Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. v. Newspaper Guild, supra, 647 F.2d at 381 (quoting Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, 457, 1 L. Ed. 2d 972, 77 S. Ct. 912 (1957)). The prevailing view under state law is that "officers or employees of a corporation are not personally liable for interference with, or inducing breach of, a corporation contract, if the action was taken in good faith and for the benefit of the corporation." 3 W. Fletcher, Cyclopedia of the Law of Private Corporations, § 1001 (1975) (footnote omitted). This approach is compatible with federal labor policy. The aggrieved party already has a claim against the corporate principal for breaching the collective bargaining agreement. Where the individual agent of the corporation is acting in the best interest of his principal, nothing is gained by recognizing, in addition, a cause of action against the individual for inducing the breach. Recognition of this sort of claim, on the other hand, transforms every simple breach of contract action into a claim for tortious interference, with its attendant claim for punitive damages. More importantly, it creates a needless interference with the individual's exercise of judgment on behalf of his corporate principal.
On the record presented by this motion there is no room for even the inference that Tamavich was not acting in the best interest of PTA. The transcripts of the hearings before the Special Joint Committee establish that Tamavich, on behalf of PTA, agreed with Local 312 to an informal settlement of Larry's initial grievance and reinstated Larry to a position of seniority over Maggi. Thereafter, when Maggi grieved that action to the Special Joint Committee, Tamavich attempted to inform the Committee of the justification for the settlement. When the Special Joint Committee ruled in favor of Maggi, Tamavich had no choice but to abide by that decision and lay Larry off. In the face of this evidence, Larry cannot rest on his bare allegation that Tamavich made a secret deal with Local 312 to deprive him of his seniority rights.
Accordingly, summary judgment will be entered in favor of Link and Tamavich on Larry's claim for tortious interference with his rights under the collective bargaining agreement.
This 21st day of July, 1983, it is
ORDERED that the "Motion of Defendants Penn Truck Aids, Inc., Robert Link and Stanley Tamavich for Summary Judgment" (document No. 65) is GRANTED.