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CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA TEAMSTERS PENSION FUND v. POWER PACKAGING

May 24, 2004.

CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA TEAMSTERS PENSION FUND and JOSEPH SAMOLEWICZ, Plaintiffs
v.
POWER PACKAGING, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES KNOLL GARDNER, District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, which motion was filed on March 5, 2004, and Defendant Power Packaging, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment, which motion was also filed on March 5, 2004. For the reasons expressed below, we conclude that plaintiffs are entitled to judgment as a matter of law on all counts of the Complaint, as well as on defendant's counterclaim. Therefore, we grant plaintiffs' motion and deny defendant's motion.

  Procedural Background

  This civil action arises from a dispute over pension plan contributions allegedly owed to plaintiffs Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Pension Fund (the "Fund") and Joseph J. Samolewicz, the administrator of the Fund, by defendant Power Packaging, Inc. Such contributions are governed by certain collective bargaining agreements between defendant, as employer, and Teamsters Local Union No. 429 ("Local 429"), as union. Specifically, plaintiffs seek allegedly delinquent contributions from defendant for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003 for certain workers employed by certain staffing agencies and leased by defendant to work in defendant's Berks County plant and warehouse.

  On April 30, 2003 plaintiffs filed a Complaint against defendant alleging defendant's breaches of two collective bargaining agreements ("CBA") between defendant and Local 429 covering the periods October 1, 1997 to September 30, 2002 ("1997 CBA") and October 1, 2002 to September 30, 2005 ("2002 CBA") in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1001-1461, and the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 141-197.

  On July 3, 2003 defendant filed the Answer and Counterclaim of Power Packaging, Inc. alleging plaintiffs' unjust enrichment resulting from defendant's overpayment of pension fund contributions to plaintiffs during the period from November 1999 to December 2000.

  On March 5, 2004 the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Both parties agree that there are no disputes as to any material fact. The sole issue raised in this case and at issue on these cross-motions for summary judgment is whether, under the applicable collective bargaining agreements, defendant is liable to plaintiffs for pension fund contributions for personnel working at defendant's Berks County plant and warehouse pursuant to certain leasing agreements with temporary staffing agencies.

  For the reasons which follow, we find that defendant is liable to plaintiffs for pension fund contributions for the leased staffing personnel working at defendant's Berks County plant and warehouse. Thus, we now grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and deny defendant's motion for summary judgment.

  Standard for Summary Judgment

  Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that judgment shall be rendered where it is shown that there is "no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); accord Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Pension Fund v. McCormick Dray Line, Inc., 85 F.3d 1098, 1102 (3d Cir. 1996). The parties in this action agree that there are no genuine issues of material fact. Below, we address which party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

  Findings of Fact

  Based upon the pleadings, record papers, depositions, agreements and exhibits of the parties, the undersigned makes the following findings of fact:

  1. On or about October 31, 1999 defendant purchased the assets of a consumer beverage mixing and bottling warehouse and plant in Berks County, Pennsylvania (the "Berks County Facility").*fn1

  2. Shortly thereafter, defendant entered into the already-existing 1997 CBA with Local 429 which governs pension contributions through September 30, 2002.*fn2

  3. On May 8, 2003 defendant entered into the 2002 CBA with Local 429 which governs pension contributions from October 1, 2002 through the present.*fn3

 
4. Both the 1997 and 2002 CBAs begin: This AGREEMENT, made by and between POWER PACKAGING, INC., party of the first part (hereinafter called the "Company"), and TEAMSTERS LOCAL UNION NO. 429, party of the second part (hereinafter called the "Union"), covering wage rates and other conditions of employment of Employees working in the Plant/Warehouse and related warehouse of Power Packaging, Inc. who are members of said union.*fn4
5. Article 1.B. of the 1997 CBA provides in pertinent part that:
It is agreed that all Employees included in this Agreement, who on the effective date of this agreement are members of the Union, shall, during the term of this Agreement remain members in the Union. Any person hired by the Employer for work in any of the job classifications included in this Agreement, prior to or subsequent to the effective date of this Agreement, shall be hired as a temporary Employee, and in the event such person is continued in employment ninety (90) calendar days after the date of his employment, he shall be required, as a condition of continued employment, to become and remain a member in the Union. Period may be extended an additional thirty (30) days for just cause and Union Agreement.*fn5
6. Article 1.B. of the 2002 CBA states in pertinent part that: It is agreed that all Employees included in this Agreement, who on the effective date of this agreement are members of the Union, shall, during the term of this Agreement remain members in the Union. Any person hired by the Employer for work in any of the job classifications included in this Agreement, prior to or subsequent to the effective date of this Agreement, shall be hired as a probationary Employee, and in the event such person is continued in employment ninety (90) calendar days after the date of his employment, he shall be required, as a condition of continued employment, to become and remain a member in the Union. The probationary period may be extended an additional thirty (30) days for just cause and Union Agreement.*fn6
7. Both the 1997 and 2002 CBAs provide in pertinent part that:
Where a new Employee, experienced or inexperienced, is employed, the Company shall have the right to discharge the said Employee at any time within the ninety (90) day probationary period following such employment without the assignment of any cause therefore. Probationary period may be extended an additional thirty (30) days for just cause and Union Agreement. Union recognition, security and benefits take effect after completion of New Employee probationary period.*fn7
  8. Both the 1997 and 2002 CBAs address pension fund contributions as follows:
 
Section 1. Employer Contributions. a. The Employer agrees to make the following monthly contributions to the Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Pension Fund (the Fund) for each Eligible Employee covered by this Agreement, in accordance with the terms of the Declaration of Trust and Defined Benefit Level F and the Retirement Income Plan executed by the Employer, subject to the qualifications hereinafter specified:
* * *
Section 2. Eligibility of Employees.
a. All existing eligible Employees, and all new eligible Employees shall be eligible for participation in and for contributions to the Fund after they have been on the payroll of the Employer for thirteen (13) weeks.
b. In determining the initial thirteen (13) week period, a new Employee shall be deemed to be on the payroll of the Employer each week he is assigned and works three (3) separate work periods during one (1) work week, or is assigned and works twenty (20) hours or more in less than three (3) separate work periods during one (1) work week.
c. The specified monthly contributions shall be paid beginning with:
(1) The month in which an Employee has completed thirteen (13) weeks of employment when his date of employment was on or before the fifteenth (15th) day of the month.
(2) The month after completing thirteen (13) weeks of employment when his date of employment was on or after the sixteenth (16th) day of the month.
d. After completing the thirteen (13) weeks of employment, the specified contribution shall be paid for each calendar month an Employee is credited with 86 hours or more, regardless as to classification of casual, probationary, temporary, etc. If an Eligible ...

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