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JOHNSON v. USW

January 27, 1994

ROBERT S. JOHNSON, JR.; CHARLES H. BLESSING, JR.; BRUCE E. SWEITZER, JR.; KARL E. HENSHAW; JAMES R. SNYDER; GEORGE B. CALAMAN; ROBERT A. SHIFFLET; JOHN OYLER; BARRY L. SECHRIST; MARSHALL E. LEONARD; MICHAEL J. GAFFNEY; PAUL J. LEHR; GREGORY L. DITTENHAFER; BRADLEY H. CLEMENTS; ALAN B. EVANS; DAVID R. WATKINS; BERNARD A. KOPCHINSKI; DEXTER A. KENYON; RAYMOND C. SIER; MELVIN F. BREESWINE; HUGH R. MYERS; DEAN E. WAKEMAN; SCOTT J. EBY; DOUGLAS A. HAKE; DARRELL W. KEHR; CHARLES A. HIDEN; PALMER PRICE; Plaintiffs
v.
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, DISTRICT 7, LOCAL UNION NO. 2378-B; THE YORK WATER COMPANY; Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM W. CALDWELL

 Pending are the motions of Defendants; United Steelworkers of America, District 7 (the "Union"), and the York Water Company ("York Water"); for summary judgment. We exercise jurisdiction according to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

 I. Facts

 At the time of the actions challenged in this lawsuit, the Union represented the employees of York Water according to a collective bargaining agreement that became effective May 1, 1991. That contract provided that ". . . the company agrees to give all employees not assigned to shift work a 40 hour week except as provided for in Section 4 of this Article." See Exh. A to the Complaint. Further, it provided that employees in the distribution and maintenance and grounds areas would be given 44-hour work weeks "as long as work is available." Id. Skilled maintenance workers would be given 45-hour work weeks "as long as work was available." Id. Employees would be paid 50 per cent more for any hours in excess of eight in a day or 40 in a week.

 II. Law and Discussion

 A. Standard for Summary Judgment

 Summary judgment is appropriate when there remain no genuine issues as to any material facts and judgment may be entered as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). When a movant submits that there is no genuine issue as to a material fact, its opponent must do more than "simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., et al v. Zenith Radio Corp., et al, 475 U.S. 574, 586; 106 S. Ct. 1348, 1356; 89 L. Ed. 2d 538 (1986).

 B. Hybrid Section 301 Cases

 Plaintiffs claim that the Union violated its duty of fair representation. The duty arises from a union's role as employees' exclusive bargaining representative in issues involving "conditions of employment." 29 U.S.C. § 159(a). From that status, the Supreme Court has established that a certified union has a duty of fair representation to its members. Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177; 87 S. Ct. 903, 910; 17 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1967); Felice v. Sever, 985 F.2d 1221, 1226 (3d Cir. 1993). The duty acts as a counterbalance to the union's position as exclusive bargaining representative. Masy v. New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, Inc., 790 F.2d 322, 327-28 (3d Cir. 1986). The standard by which we judge a union's conduct is to ask if the challenged actions were "arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith." Vaca, supra; see also, Riley v. Letter Carriers, 668 F.2d 224, 228 (3d Cir. 1981). The conduct of a union official in handling grievances is not deemed arbitrary or perfunctory when it is merely inept or negligent. Findley v. Jones Motor Freight, 639 F.2d 953, 960 n.2 (3d Cir. 1981); see also, Freeland v. Harley Davidson, Inc. slip op. no. 92-1256 (M.D. Pa. July 28, 1993) (Caldwell, J.). The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently described the standard a plaintiff must meet.

 
[A] union breaches its duty of fair representation only if, in light of the factual and legal landscape at the time of the union's actions, the union's behavior is so far outside a "wide range of reasonableness" as to be irrational or arbitrary. Merely characterizing a union's actions in conclusory terms is insufficient to withstand summary judgment. Rather, to meet the burden of proof as to the union's breach of its duty of fair representation, a plaintiff must establish by substantial evidence that the union acted arbitrarily, discriminatorily, or with bad faith.

 Painter v. Mazda Motor Manufacturing (USA) Corp., No. 92-1516, 1993 U.S. App. LEXIS 13472, 1993 WL 185181 at *4, 143 L.R.R.M. 2568 (6th Cir. May 27, 1993), quoting and citing Airline Pilots Ass'n Int'l v. O'Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 111 S. Ct. 1127, 113 L. Ed. 2d 51 (1991). Finally, a plaintiff must show that the union representative "acted with a bad faith motive." Medlin v. Boeing Vertol Co., 620 F.2d 957, 961 (3d. Cir. 1980)

 At the same time they make their claim against the Union, Plaintiffs allege that York Water, acting in concert with the Union, violated the collective bargaining agreement in violation of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, et seq. The two claims, abrogation of the duty of fair representation and violation of the collective bargaining agreement, are inextricably intertwined; the sort of action presented by Plaintiffs is known as a "hybrid" action. See Souter v. Int'l Union, U.A.W.A., 993 F.2d 595 (7th Cir. 1993). For a plaintiff to prevail in a hybrid action, he must prove his case against both the union and the company. Del Costello v. Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 164-65; 103 S. Ct. 2281, 2290-91; 76 L. Ed. 2d 476 ...


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