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Just Born, Inc. v. Local Union No. 6

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

December 29, 2017

JUST BORN, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
LOCAL UNION NO. 6, BCTGM, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          SCHMEHL, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Just Born, Inc. (“Plaintiff” or “Just Born”), brings this suit against Defendant, Local Union No. 6, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union of America (“Defendant” or “Union”) for damages and declaratory relief under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act for the Union's alleged breach of its collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) entered into with Plaintiff. Before the Court is the Motion for Summary Judgment of Defendant and Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, as well as numerous responses and replies to each. For the following reasons, Defendant's Motion is granted, Plaintiff's Cross-Motion is denied, and judgment will be entered in favor of the Union.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c). “A motion for summary judgment will not be defeated by ‘the mere existence' of some disputed facts, but will be denied when there is a genuine issue of material fact.” Am. Eagle Outfitters v. Lyle & Scott Ltd., 584 F.3d 575, 581 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-248 (1986)). A fact is “material” if proof of its existence or non-existence might affect the outcome of the litigation, and a dispute is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.

         In undertaking this analysis, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. “After making all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, there is a genuine issue of material fact if a reasonable jury could find for the nonmoving party.” Pignataro v. Port Auth. of N.Y. and N.J., 593 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 2010) (citing Reliance Ins. Co. v. Moessner, 121 F.3d 895, 900 (3d Cir. 1997)). While the moving party bears the initial burden of showing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, meeting this obligation shifts the burden to the non-moving party who must “set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250.

         III. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a candy manufacturer that owns and operates a production facility in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Stmt of Undisputed Mat'l Facts, ¶ 1.) Production and maintenance workers at the Bethlehem Just Born facility are represented by Defendant, Local No. 6 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. (Id., ¶ 2.) Production and maintenance workers at the Bethlehem facility have been represented by local unions affiliated with the international union currently known as the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union since at least 1954. (Id., ¶ 2.) Just Born and Local 6 have negotiated collective bargaining agreements setting wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for the union-represented production and maintenance workers and the Bethlehem facility. (Id., ¶ 3.) The collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) at issue in this case contained the following relevant language in Article 19, titled “SETTLEMENT

         OF GRIEVANCE AND ARBITRATION:”

19.1 Should any difference arise between the Company and the Union as to the meaning and application of the provisions of this Agreement or as to any questions relating to the wages, hours of work and other conditions of employment of any employee, there will be no suspension of work on account of such differences, but an earnest effort will be made to settle them promptly according to the following procedure.

(See Exh. 1 to Stmt of Mat'l Facts.)

         Article 24 of the CBA, titled “PROHIBITIONS OF STRIKES AND LOCKOUTS, ” states:

The Union will not cause or permit its members to cause, nor will any member of the Union take part in, any strike, either sit-down, stay-in or any other kind of strike, or other interference, or any stoppage, total or partial, of production in the Company's plant until the grievance procedure has been exhausted, and not even then unless approved by the International Union.

(Stmt of Mat'l Facts, ¶ 5, Exh. 1.) The language contained in Article 24 is also contained in CBAs covering workers at the Bethlehem facility executed in the following years: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2010. (Id., ¶ 6.)

         On or about May 19, 2016, the parties began negotiating for a successor agreement to the CBA, and on September 7, 2016, Local 6 commenced a strike at the Bethlehem facility. (Id., ΒΆΒΆ 7-8.) Plaintiff filed the instant suit on September 26, 2016, seeking damages and declaratory relief under ...


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