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PENNSYLVANIA HEALTH AND WELFARE v. NEWBERRY TOWNSHIP

September 6, 2005.

CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA TEAMSTERS HEALTH AND WELFARE FUND, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
NEWBERRY TOWNSHIP, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHRISTOPHER CONNER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the court for judgment is the claim of plaintiffs, the Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund ("Fund") and its trustees ("Trustees"), for remittance of contributions allegedly owed by defendants, Newberry Township and several municipal officials, on behalf of a non-union Township employee, William Deardorff, under a collective bargaining agreement ("Agreement")*fn1 between Newberry Township and its employees' union. The Agreement provides that contributions shall be made for each "Eligible Employee." The court previously found this phrase to be ambiguous and indicated that resolution of the meaning of the phrase would await trial, to permit "the factfinder to determine, based on the terms of the Agreement and extrinsic evidence, whether Mr. Deardorff [is] an `Eligible Employee' for whom contributions [are] required."

A bench trial was held in July 2005. The evidence presented, including the testimony of the administrator of the Fund, demonstrates that Mr. Deardorff is not an "Eligible Employee." The Fund does not have a right to receive contributions on his behalf, and judgment will be entered in favor of Newberry Township.

  I. Findings of Facts

  1. The Fund is a self-insured, jointly-administered, multi-employer employee benefit fund under the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 186, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1002, administered by the Trustees for the exclusive purpose of providing welfare and other benefits to its participants and beneficiaries and defraying the reasonable expenses of administering the plan. (Doc. 163, Ex. J-6; Doc. 164 at 8-11).

  2. The Fund receives contributions from various employers who are contractually obligated to make contributions to the Fund by virtue of being a party to collective bargaining agreements by and between the employers and different unions, including Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Local Union No. 430 and Central Pennsylvania Teamsters Local Union No. 776 (collectively "Union").*fn2 (See Doc. 63, Ex. J-6). 3. The Union is the exclusive bargaining representative for nonprofessional employees, including highway workers, of Newberry Township. (Doc. 52 ¶¶ 7-8).

  4. The Union and Newberry Township are parties to the Agreement, which governs the wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for employees of Newberry Township represented by the Union. (Doc. 63, Exs. J-2, J-3, J-4).

  5. Section 1 of Article 10 of the Agreement requires Newberry Township to make "monthly contributions to [the Fund] for each Eligible Employee covered by this Agreement in order to qualify such Employee for benefits in accordance with the terms of the Declaration of Trust." (E.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-4 at 8).

  6. Section 2 of Article 10 of the Agreement, titled "Eligibility of Employees," provides that an "Employee shall be deemed to be an Eligible Employee if such Employee has worked at least sixty (60) hours for the Employer during the preceding month." (E.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-4 at 9).

  7. All references to "employees" outside of Article 10 of the Agreement are not capitalized, implying a distinction between an "employee" and an "Employee." (Doc. 64 at 48; see, e.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-4).

  8. The Agreement does not define "Employee" or "Eligible Employee." (See, e.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-4).

  9. The Agreement incorporates by reference the Declaration of Trust. (See, e.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-4 at 8; Doc. 64 at 50, 54). 10. The Union and Newberry Township are parties to separate agreements providing that all matters relating to eligibility for and participation in the Fund are governed by the Declaration of Trust.*fn3 (Doc. 52 ¶¶ 4-5).

  11. The Declaration of Trust provides that the "Employer shall make prompt Contributions to the Fund in such amount and pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in the [Declaration of Trust] and the rules and regulations of the Trustees which are applicable thereto, all pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement in effect from time to time between the Employer or his bargaining representative and the Local Union." (E.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-6 at 19-20).

  12. The Declaration of Trust provides that "Contributions shall be made for each Eligible Employee of the Employer." (E.g., Doc. 63, Ex. J-6 at 20).

  13. The Declaration of Trust defines "Employee" and "Eligible Employee"*fn4 as "[a] person working for an Employer, as defined herein, which Employer is required to make proper Contributions to the Fund pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement with a Local Union, who shall have been proposed as a ...


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