concluded, without discussion, that the policy and reasoning underlying DelCostello applied to LMRDA actions and that § 10(b) was the appropriate limitations period for such actions. Id. at 917.
The DelCostello Court stressed that its holding "should not be taken as a departure from prior practice" of borrowing state limitations periods in the area of labor law. The Court also indicated, however, that "when a rule from elsewhere in federal law clearly provides a closer analogy than available state statutes, and when the federal policies at stake and the practicalities of litigation make that rule a significantly more appropriate vehicle for interstitial lawmaking," the federal rule should be applied without hesitation. DelCostello 103 S. Ct. at 2294. Resolving the issue of whether DelCostello affects the limitations period applicable to actions under the LMRDA, therefore, requires the court to determine the federal policies at stake in a LMRDA suit and, considering those policies, to find the state or federal action most closely analogous to a LMRDA claim.
The LMRDA provides that "every member of any labor organization shall have equal rights and privileges within such organization" and its government. 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1) (1959). The act also protects a labor group member's rights to speak against, to sue, and to lawfully assemble a dissident faction of the labor organization free from fear of formal recourse by the union. 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2), (4) (1959). The LMRDA further safeguards union members against improper disciplinary action. 29 U.S.C. §§ 411(a)(5), 529 (1959). The federal policies at stake in a LMRDA suit parallel the policies Congress sought to further by enacting a comprehensive body of labor law. See 29 U.S.C. § 401 (1959).
Section 10(b) establishes a six-month period for making charges of unfair labor practices to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If the family resemblance between unfair labor practice charges and actions for breach of duty of fair representation is undeniable, see DelCostello, 103 S. Ct. at 2293, then LMRDA claims belong to the same family. Breach-of-duty cases, as well as unfair labor practice charges, typically involve unfair, arbitrary or discriminatory treatment of workers. Many breach-of-duty claims, for example, include allegations of discrimination based on membership status or dissident views. Such allegations, if proven, would also support a charge of unfair labor practice under 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1), (2) (1974). See id. at 2293-2294. Those allegations also state a claim under the LMRDA. See 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2) (1959). Conduct actionable under the LMRDA, therefore, is closely analogous to, and substantially overlaps with, conduct actionable as a breach of duty or an unfair labor practice.
Comparison of the LMRDA claim with an action for tortious interference with business relations does not produce such a precise fit. See Harrison, 452 F. Supp. at 106. Indeed, tort law may not even protect a disrupted relationship within a union. Id. (citing George A. Davis, Inc. v. Camp Trails Co., 447 F. Supp. 1304, 1308-12 (E.D.Pa. 1978) and authority therein).
The court concludes that the federal policies at stake in a LMRDA suit closely parallel those at stake in unfair-labor-practice and breach-of-duty cases. Further, plaintiffs' complaint under the LMRDA is more akin to a breach-of-duty claim than to an action for tortious interference with business relations. The court holds, consistent with DelCostello, that the six-month § 10(b) limitations period applies to the instant LMRDA suit.
Because the latest conduct of defendant about which plaintiffs complain occurred in December 1982 and the plaintiffs did not file the complaint until November 1983, the limitations period has elapsed and plaintiffs' complaint must be dismissed.
An appropriate order will issue.
AND NOW, this 1st day of March, 1984, for the reasons contained in the accompanying opinion, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that
(a) the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendant United Steelworkers of America is GRANTED;
(b) the Complaint filed in this action by Plaintiffs, Local Union 1397, United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO, Ronald Weisen, Thomas Jugan and Thomas Katona, is DISMISSED.