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MCCANDLESS v. TRANS PENN WAX CORP.

December 13, 1993

MICHAEL McCANDLESS, BENJAMIN REYNOLDS, BRADLEY PEARSON, BRIAN PATTERSON, JERRY SNYDER, JOHN E. BULKLEY, Plaintiffs,
v.
TRANS PENN WAX CORPORATION, ASTOR WAX CORPORATION, ASSOCIATED BRITISH, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MAURICE B. COHILL, JR.

 COHILL, D.J.

 Presently before the Court is Defendants' motion for reconsideration of our Order of October 7, 1993 granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand. For the reasons stated herein, we will deny the motion for reconsideration.

 I. Background

 The essential facts of this case are not in dispute. This dispute arises out of an employee effort to decertify Local 8240 of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers' International Union as the collective bargaining representatives for manufacturing employees at the defendant Trans Penn Wax Corporation's (Trans Penn) plant. Plaintiffs are six former employees of defendant Trans Penn Wax Corporation, who seek damages for alleged fraud and breach of contract against their former employer and two other companies. Defendant Astor Wax Corporation, like Trans Penn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of defendant ABI Corporation, which is engaged in the business of research, development and production of petrochemical products through its subsidiaries.

 This case had been removed from the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, located in the Western District of Pennsylvania, upon motion by the defendants. The original complaint included allegations of RICO violations, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c), which the plaintiffs later voluntarily withdrew, leaving only the state causes of action for fraud and breach of contract.

 Plaintiffs had been bargaining unit members, covered by a collective bargaining agreement, when Trans Penn's agents allegedly made representations which led the plaintiffs to vote against the union. Plaintiffs allege that on the eve of the decertification election, the employees were presented with a written "contract" for employment and guaranty of job security. This document reads:

 
"you will have a job here . . . as long as you perform your work satisfactorily, follow our customary rules, and we are economically able to operate this institution successfully and work is available. . . . This guarantee is given to you because of the false union rumor that you will lose your job if the Union loses the election."

 Amended Complaint Exhibit "A."

 Plaintiffs argue that they relied on this representation in their decision to vote in favor of decertification, and that the defendants breached their contract when the plaintiffs were terminated by defendants on October 30, 1991, over a year and a half after the election. Amended Complaint P 21. Defendant Trans Penn later contracted with Manpower, Inc. to provide temporary production workers in September, 1992. Def.'s Resp. to Interrog. 14.

 Defendants' motion for reconsideration characterizes the plaintiffs' allegations as falling within federal jurisdiction because they are preempted by federal labor law. Defendants' answer to the original and amended complaints includes preemption as an affirmative defense to the allegations. Defendants argue that the plaintiffs have attempted to manipulate the forum and that we should therefore reconsider our earlier ruling in which we remanded this case to state court.

 II. Discussion

 We must look to the complaint at the time the petition for removal is filed to determine whether there is federal jurisdiction. Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305 U.S. 534, 537-38, 83 L. Ed. 334, 59 S. Ct. 347 (1939). Our decision to retain or relinquish federal jurisdiction rests on the principals of judicial economy, convenience, fairness and comity, including consideration of "forum shopping." Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 98 L. Ed. 2d 720, 108 S. Ct. 614 (1988).

 In the present motion the defendants argue that state court jurisdiction is preempted by § 301 of the Federal Labor Management Relations Act (FLMRA) and §§ 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1). Section 8(a)(1) of the NLRA makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to "interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees" in their rights which are established in § 7 of the NLRA. Section 7 provides that "employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, ...


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