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WRIGHT v. BOEING VERTOL CO.

January 13, 1989

ROBERT WRIGHT
v.
BOEING VERTOL COMPANY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'NEILL, JR.

 THOMAS N. O'NEILL, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 In this action, brought under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185 (1982), plaintiff Robert Wright seeks to overturn a labor arbitration award sustaining plaintiff's discharge by defendant Boeing Vertol Company ("Boeing"). Plaintiff alleges that Boeing discharged him in violation of its collective bargaining agreement with the International Union, United Automobile Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America ("UAW") and Local 1069 of the UAW, that the UAW and Local 1069 breached their duty of fair representation of plaintiff, and that Boeing, the UAW and Local 1069 conspired to terminate him. Boeing has moved for summary judgment on Counts II and III of plaintiff's complaint. *fn1"

 Background

 Except for a brief period in 1964, plaintiff was employed by Boeing continuously from October 8, 1962 until March 31, 1986 as a production and maintenance worker. From shortly after he began work at Boeing, plaintiff was a member of, and represented by, the UAW and Local 1069, and the terms and conditions of his employment were governed by a series of collective bargaining agreements between the UAW, Local 1069 and Boeing. Plaintiff has held a number of positions within Local 1069, including Vice President from July 1985 to June 1987, and President from June 1987 to the present date.

 During his term as Vice President, plaintiff served as a member of the Local 1069 shop committee. His duties at work included adjustment of complaints and grievances arising under the collective bargaining agreement with Boeing. Members of the shop committee were assigned to work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., including an unpaid 30 minute lunch period. Like other Boeing production employees, plaintiff was required to record his times of arrival and departure each day on Boeing's computerized data collection system.

 On April 2, Local 1069 filed a grievance alleging that plaintiff's discharge was "unjust and unfair," and demanding that he be reinstated immediately. In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, a Boeing Discharge Board of Review hearing was held on April 3 to consider Local 1069's grievance. Plaintiff was represented at this hearing by James Donahue, the UAW International Representative assigned to Local 1069. The Board received evidence from both sides, including testimony by plaintiff and a presentation by Donahue. Boeing notified Local 1069 on April 10 of the Board's determination that there was just cause for plaintiff's discharge. That same day, Local 1069 appealed Boeing's determination to arbitration, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

 Donahue and Local 1069 shop committee chairman John Newborg prepared plaintiff's arbitration case on behalf of Local 1069. The arbitration hearing was held on July 7 before Joseph M. Stone. Stone heard testimony from plaintiff, Newborg and Local 1069 President Edmund Ciammaichelli, as well as argument by Donahue, and evidence and argument from Boeing. Both sides also submitted post-hearing briefs. On September 26, Stone issued his decision denying Local 1069's grievance. He found that plaintiff's discharge was in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement because plaintiff's conduct

 
constituted "tinkering" with the Company's time reporting system and such conduct warranted discharge since employees realize on the basis of past arbitrations and discharge actions by the Company that such "tinkering" with the Company's time reporting system results in discharge. *fn4"

 Discussion

 Under Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 56(c), summary judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." The Supreme Court has held that the Rule mandates summary judgment "against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 The collective bargaining agreement between Boeing and Local 1069 provides that for grievances submitted to arbitration, "the decision of the arbitrator shall be final and binding upon all employees, the Company, and the Union." *fn5" In Count II of his complaint, plaintiff attempts to avoid this finality provision by alleging a hybrid § 301/fair representation claim. To prevail on such a claim, plaintiff must show not only that his discharge was not in accord with the collective bargaining agreement, but also that there was a "breach of duty [of fair representation] by the Union." DelCostello v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 165, 76 L. Ed. 2d 476, 103 S. Ct. 2281 (1983) (quoting Justice Stewart's concurrence in United Parcel Service, Inc. v. Mitchell, 451 U.S. 56, 66-67, 67 L. Ed. 2d 732, 101 S. Ct. 1559 (1981)); see Findley v. Jones Motor Freight, 639 F.2d 953, 958 (3d Cir. 1981) ("An employee's claim against his employer for wrongful discharge may be meritorious, but he nevertheless cannot prevail in a federal court action unless he establishes a lack of fair representation.") On the record before me, I conclude that plaintiff has failed to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of a breach of duty of fair representation by the UAW or Local 1069.

 A union breaches its duty of fair representation only when its "conduct toward a member of the collective bargaining unity is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith." Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 190, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842, 87 S. Ct. 903 (1967). A union may not process a member's grievance "in perfunctory fashion." Vaca, 386 U.S. at 191, ; Riley v. Letter Carriers Local No. 380, 668 F.2d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 1981). But to establish that a grievance was processed in perfunctory fashion, "it is not enough for a member of the collective bargaining unit to show that the union committed a mistake in the prosecution of a grievance, nor is it sufficient to show negligence or poor judgment on the union's part." Bellesfield v. RCA ...


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