The opinion of the court was delivered by: BLOCH
In this consolidated action, plaintiffs, all former employees of DeBolt Transfer, Inc. and members of Local 249, General Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers (Local 249), have filed this action against the defendants alleging breach of their fiduciary duty of fair representation and violation of their due process rights guaranteed them under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 412 and 28 U.S.C. § 1337. Defendants Local 249 and Teamsters Joint Council No. 40 (Joint Council) have filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
On a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), such as presented in this case, the Court must limit its consideration of the facts to those alleged in the complaint. Biesenbach v. Guenther, 588 F.2d 400, 402 (3d Cir. 1978). In reviewing a motion to dismiss, the Court must construe all of the allegations of the complaint as true. Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 40 L. Ed. 2d 90, 94 S. Ct. 1683 (1974). According to the United States Supreme Court, "a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957) (footnote omitted). This stringent standard guides the Court in its review of defendants' motions.
Plaintiffs' complaints allege that on March 10, 1982, they received a letter from the defendant Local 249 stating that the Executive Board had voted to disclaim all interests with respect to the bargaining unit consisting of DeBolt Transfer, Inc. employees. On May 27, 1982, Local 249 informed the plaintiffs that, due to certain "actions" of the plaintiffs, it could not represent their interests. On December 6, 1982, plaintiffs, in accordance with the Bylaws of Local 249 and Joint Council, requested a hearing before the Joint Council regarding their expulsion. On December 17, 1982, Joint Council informed the plaintiffs that the decision of Local 249 had been upheld. Thereafter, plaintiffs appealed the decision to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, who, on December 13, 1983, informed the plaintiffs that a meeting with Local 249 would lead to a satisfactory resolution of the matter. On December 27, 1983, a meeting was held between the plaintiffs and the President of Local 249, who offered the plaintiffs the opportunity to join Local Teamsters 800. On January 9, 1984, plaintiffs requested that the Executive Board of Local 249 reconsider their expulsion. On February 3, 1984, plaintiffs were informed that the Executive Board had decided to maintain its original decision. In accordance with defendant International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers of America (International), Local 249 gave plaintiffs the opportunity to transfer to Local 800 or to request the General Executive Board to issue a ruling on their appeal. On February 10, 1984, plaintiffs informed Local 249 and the International of their desire to have a ruling on their appeal. International failed to respond. On April 24, 1984, plaintiffs wrote to International requesting information regarding the status of their appeal. No response was received and plaintiffs, on September 13, 1984, wrote International again, without success. Plaintiffs did not receive a reply to this request. Plaintiffs complaints, Civil Action No. 84-3103, para. 10-para. 28 (docket entry Nos. 1 and 10); Civil Action No. 85-531, para. 6-para. 24 (docket entry No. 1). On December 31, 1984, plaintiffs filed Civil Action No. 84-3103, and on March 7, 1985, plaintiff filed Civil Action No. 85-531.
Local 249 moves to dismiss on the grounds that plaintiffs' cause of action is time-barred. Plaintiffs contend that since the LMRDA does not specify a statute of limitations, the Court must look to state law to determine the appropriate period of limitations for an action brought pursuant to § 102 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 412 (1982). In the instant case, plaintiffs maintain that their claims are governed by Pennsylvania's four-year statute of limitations applicable in contract actions. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5525.
In Local Union 1397, United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CI0 v. United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO, 748 F.2d 180 (3d Cir. 1984), the Third Circuit held that the 6-month limitations period of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was applicable to actions brought under the LMRDA. In DelCostello v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 76 L. Ed. 2d 476, 103 S. Ct. 2281 (1983), the Supreme Court held that the appropriate limitations period for "hybrid" § 301 actions was the 6-month period found in § 10(b) of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 160(b) (1982). The Supreme Court emphasized the practical similarity between an unfair labor practice charge brought by an individual employee under the NLRA and a breach of the duty of fair representation claim and a breach of contract claim brought by an individual employee against his union and employer under § 301. The Court also emphasized the close similarity and policy considerations relevant to the choice of limitations period for an unfair labor practice charge and for a "hybrid" § 301 action. In both situations, the federal labor policy in promoting stable bargaining relationships necessitates prompt resolution of disputes between an individual and his union or an individual and his employer, disputes that may effect the bargaining relationship between union and employer. Relying on DelCostello, the Third Circuit noted as follows:
In adopting a six-month limitations period for unfair labor practice charges, Congress balanced the federal interests in stable collective bargaining relationships and rapid resolution of labor disputes against an employee's interests in the vindication of his rights under § 7 of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. § 157 (1982). Those same concerns are present in suits brought under § 102 of the LMRDA. Clearly, a union member has an interest in vindicating his rights under §§ 101 and 609 of the LMRDA, and a limitations period should not unduly impose on this interest. By the same token, however, rapid resolution of internal union disputes is necessary to maintain the federal goal of stable bargaining relationships, for dissension within the union naturally effects that union's activities and effectiveness in the collective bargaining arena.
As a final point, we also note that a six-month limitation period is not inherently unfair to LMRDA plaintiffs. As in this case, the allegedly unlawful activity in a § 102 action is rarely latent; generally, discipline is imposed, or rights are denied openly. Thus, six months is an adequate time period in which to decide whether to bring a § 102 action. Further, if the Supreme Court in Del Costello thought it fair to accord individual union members only six months in which to file their § 301 action, we believe it is similarly fair to accord those same individual union members only six months in which to file their § 102 action.
748 F.2d at 183-184 (citations omitted).
The Third Circuit went on to say that its decision to apply the six-month limitations period of the NLRA to actions brought under the LMRDA could be ...