made informal attempts to get petitioner reinstated by his former employer. After the former employer had rebuffed the informal overtures, the union brought a formal grievance under the collective bargaining agreement. A regional joint union-management committee heard the matter and ruled that the grievance was without merit. "Under the collective bargaining agreement, the committee's decision [was] final and binding on the parties." Id. On March 16, 1978, petitioner initiated a lawsuit against the employer and the union. Against the employer, petitioner alleged that employer discharged him in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Against the union, petitioner asserted that the union did not fairly represent him when it prosecuted his grievance. The Supreme Court held that the applicable statute of limitations, for plaintiff's hybrid action against the employer and the union, was the six month provision contained in 29 U.S.C. § 160(b) and not the state's "30-day statute of limitations for actions to vacate arbitration awards" or the state's 3-year statute for actions on contracts. Id. at 156.
In the second circuit case in DelCostello, the respondents, who were craft welders, were either laid off or assigned to other work because the employer assigned welding work to employees who were not craft welders. Respondents who were union members filed grievances with the union in 1975 and 1976, asserting that employer's job assignments violated the collective bargaining agreement. The union pursued the grievances to an arbitration hearing, but the arbitrator held that the collective-bargaining agreement permitted the employer to make the job assignments in issue. On January 9, 1979, respondents initiated a hybrid § 301/unfair representation lawsuit against the employer and the union. Like petitioner in the fourth circuit case, respondents asserted that the employer breached the collective bargaining agreement and that the union breached its duty of fair representation. The Supreme Court held that the applicable statute of limitations, against the employer and the union, was the six month statute of limitations provided in 29 U.S.C. § 160(b) and not the state's "90-day statute of limitations for actions to vacate arbitration awards" or, with respect to the union, the state's "3 year statute of limitations for malpractice actions." Id. at 157, 158.
As background to the analysis of the DelCostello decision, it is necessary to keep in mind the Rules of Decision Act ("Act"), Rev.Stat. § 721, 1 Stat. 92 (1789).
That Act directs federal courts to apply state law in trials at common law, unless federal law requires or provides otherwise. Under DelCostello, the exception to the application by the federal courts of the state statute of limitations is triggered "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." 462 U.S. at 172. Therefore, turning now to the allegations and asserted causes of action in the present case, the court must determine whether the federal 6-month statute of limitations or the state statutes of limitations is most appropriate.
With regard to plaintiff's Count IV in which plaintiff claims that the Union and his employers conspired to deprive him of his right to arbitration, plaintiff asserts that Pennsylvania's 2-year statute of limitations for actions for intentional torts should be applied. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5524. After considering plaintiff's position carefully, the court holds that, just as the Supreme Court in DelCostello held that the federal statute of limitations is applicable in the wrongful discharge case out of the fourth circuit, the federal statute of limitations is the appropriate statute here. Plaintiff, in the instant case, like the union members in the DelCostello case, enjoyed the benefits of federal labor law, including the right to petition his Union to process his grievances on his behalf. The only differences asserted by plaintiff between the union members in DelCostello and the present case is that (1) the Union here, unlike the unions in DelCostello, did not process the member's grievances, and (2) plaintiff here, unlike the union members in DelCostello, asserts a conspiracy count. Neither difference, however, bear legal significance. First, there is no apparent legal reason why a different and longer statute of limitation should apply to plaintiff's claim in the case where the Union breached its duty of fair representation by declining to process plaintiff's grievances or conspiring with the employer not to process it, than in the case where the Union breached its duty of fair representation by bungling, in arbitration, plaintiff's grievance. See Taylor v. Ford and Local Union 980, 761 F.2d 931 (3d Cir. 1985); Scott v. Local 863, 725 F.2d 226, 229 (3d Cir. 1984). Second, the existence of federal statute of limitations indicates that Congress intended to balance the employees' interest of recovering that which is due them with the federal interest of a rapid resolution of labor disputes. 462 U.S. at 468. Such a Congressional mandate should be followed where it exists. Third, in DelCostello, the Court registered its dissatisfaction with application of "different limitations for the two halves of a § 301/fair representation suit." 462 U.S. at 169 n.19. In the present case, only the application of the federal statute of limitations would give consistent results with respect to plaintiff's claims against the Union and those against the employers. Consequently, the federal statute of limitations is the appropriate statute.
With respect to plaintiff's Counts I, II, and III, plaintiff asserts that the appropriate statute of limitations is Pennsylvania's 6-year statute for actions for breach of an express contract or the Commonwealth's 4-year statute for actions for breach of implied contracts. Plaintiff attempts to distinguish DelCostello, which applied the federal statute of limitations instead of the state statutes of limitations for actions for breach of contract, on the following three grounds. (1) Plaintiff alleges that, not only did employer breach the collective bargaining agreement, the Union also breached the agreement. (2) Plaintiff, unlike the union members in DelCostello, alleges a breach of an implied contract as a result of plaintiff's discharge without just and reasonable cause. (3) Plaintiff, unlike the union members in DelCostello, alleges that the defendants totally prevented plaintiff from participating in the grievance procedure.
The court finds, however, that plaintiff's asserted distinctions between DelCostello and the present case are without legal significance for the same reasons set forth above where the court held that DelCostello controls the disposition of Count IV. See Taylor v. Ford and Local Union 980, 761 F.2d 931 (3d Cir. 1985). See also Aiello v. Apex Marine Corporation, 610 F. Supp. 1255, slip op. at 24-29 (E.D. Pa. 1985), supplemented No. 83-3240 (E.D. Pa. May 22, 1985) (Scirica, J.).
Having concluded that the federal 6-month statute of limitations applies in the present case, the court turns to the application of that statute. The statute of limitations under 29 U.S.C. § 160(b) begins to rule at the time of the act of the unfair labor practice. In the present case, the statute would begin on the date on which the Union refused to process the grievance. The Union refused to process the grievance in a February 21, 1984 letter to plaintiff and in an April 2, 1984 letter to plaintiff's counsel. If the statute began to run on April 2, 1984, plaintiff's complaint was not filed within 6 months of that date. See Taylor v. Ford, 761 F.2d 931, slip op. at 6 (3d Cir. 1985).
Plaintiff argues that the statute tolled when, on February 5, 1984, plaintiff applied for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Benefits. Plaintiff's application was denied by the Office of Employment Security to the Unemployment Board of Review, and he subsequently appealed. Following an April 6, 1984 hearing before a referee, the decision of the Office of Employment Security was affirmed and plaintiff's application for compensation was disallowed on April 11, 1984. The court holds: (1) the Commonwealth's Unemployment Compensation Act is independent of the Federal Labor-Management Relations Act, and, therefore, the filing of a claim under one Act did not toll the statute of limitations applicable to the other, see Johnson v. Railway Express Agency, 421 U.S. 454, 44 L. Ed. 2d 295, 95 S. Ct. 1716 (1975) (filing of a claim with the EEOC did not toll the running of the statute of limitations applicable to the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. § 1981), and (2) even if the federal statute was tolled by plaintiff's filing of the Commonwealth unemployment compensation claim until April 11, 1984, when plaintiff's application was disallowed, plaintiff's complaint was still not filed until more than six months after April 11, 1984.
Plaintiff's claim against the Union and the employers must be denied.
An appropriate Order will be entered.
AND NOW, TO WIT, this 28th day of May, 1985, for the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum, IT IS ORDERED as follows:
1. Motion to dismiss filed by defendant Macke Company is granted;
2. Motion to dismiss filed by defendant West Village is granted;
3. Motion to dismiss filed by defendant Service Employees International Union Local No. 252 is granted;
4. Judgment is entered in favor of defendant Macke Company and against plaintiff;
5. Judgment is entered in favor of defendant West Village and against plaintiff; and
6. Judgment is entered in favor of defendant Service Employees International Union Local No. 252 and against plaintiff.