645 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2011), 11-1159, ABF Freight System, Inc. v. International Broth. of Teamsters

Docket Nº:11-1159.
Citation:645 F.3d 954
Opinion Judge:BENTON, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:ABF FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, as and for themselves and as representatives of a class of teamsters local unions that are parties to the National Master Freight Agreement; Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee, as and for themselves and as representatives of a class of t
Attorney:Thomas G. Hungar, argued, Washington, DC, Robert C. Long, Robert F. Millman, and Gerald T. Hathaway, on the brief, Fayetteville, AR, for appellant. Carl H. Gluek, argued, T. Merritt Bumpass, Jr., on the brief, Cleveland, OH, for appellee, Trucking Management. John F. Hartmann, argued, Chicago, IL...
Judge Panel:Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BENTON and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:July 06, 2011
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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645 F.3d 954 (8th Cir. 2011)

ABF FREIGHT SYSTEM, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, as and for themselves and as representatives of a class of teamsters local unions that are parties to the National Master Freight Agreement; Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee, as and for themselves and as representatives of a class of teamsters local unions that are parties to the National Master Freight Agreement; Teamsters Local Union 373, as and for themselves and as representatives of a class of teamsters local unions that are parties to the National Master Freight Agreement; Teamsters Local Union 878, as and for themselves and as representatives of a class of teamsters local unions that are parties to the National Master Freight Agreement; YRC, Inc.; New Penn Motor Express, Inc.; USF Holland, Inc.; Trucking Management, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 11-1159.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

July 6, 2011

Submitted: April 12, 2011.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Thomas G. Hungar, argued, Washington, DC, Robert C. Long, Robert F. Millman, and Gerald T. Hathaway, on the brief, Fayetteville, AR, for appellant.

Carl H. Gluek, argued, T. Merritt Bumpass, Jr., on the brief, Cleveland, OH, for appellee, Trucking Management.

John F. Hartmann, argued, Chicago, IL, Christopher Landau, John S. Irving, Washington, DC, Joshua Z. Rabinovitz, Wendy Netter Epstein, Chicago, IL, on the brief, for appellees, YRC, New Penn Motor Express and USF Holland.

Samuel Morris, argued, Memphis, TN, Melva Harmon, on the brief, Little Rock, AR, for appellees, Teamsters National

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Freight Industry Negotiating Committee, IBT, Teamsters Local Union 373 and Teamsters Local Union 878.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, BENTON and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

BENTON, Circuit Judge.

ABF Freight System, Inc., sued YRC, Inc., New Penn Motor Express, Inc., USF Holland Inc. (collectively, " YRC" ), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and two of its locals (collectively, the " Union" ), and the bargaining representatives of YRC and the Union (collectively, with YRC and the Union, " defendants" ), for violation of a collective-bargaining agreement. The district court dismissed ABF's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, ruling that ABF lacked standing to sue because it did not show by a preponderance of the evidence that it had rights under the collective-bargaining agreement. See ABF Freight Sys., Inc. v. Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2010 WL 5315584, at *5 (W.D.Ark. Dec. 20, 2010). Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court vacates and remands.

I.

ABF and YRC are trucking competitors whose employees are represented by the Union. Before 2008, ABF and YRC were part of a multi-employer bargaining unit represented by Trucking Management, Inc. TMI negotiates periodically with the Union's representative, Teamsters National Freight Industry Negotiating Committee (" TNFINC" ). These negotiations produce the National Master Freight Agreement (" NMFA" ), which, in various versions, dates back to 1964.

In August 2007, before TMI and TNFINC began to negotiate a new NMFA, ABF withdrew its bargaining authority from TMI, and attempted to reach its own agreement with the Union.

ABF and the Union eventually adopted an " Interim Agreement," providing that ABF would become a " party and signatory to [the] successor National Master Freight Agreement." ABF agreed to implement the new NMFA's standards on work conditions (wages, hours, etc.). The Interim Agreement, signed on January 30, 2008, did not require ABF to re-join the multi-employer unit. The same day, ABF and the Union agreed to five side agreements, reserving specific rights to ABF if YRC closes and agreeing to reconvene.

TMI and TNFINC negotiated the 2008-2013 NMFA without ABF's participation. 1 In " PARTIES TO THIS AGREEMENT," the NMFA describes " Employers Covered" to include " individual Employers who become signator to this Agreement and Supplemental Agreements as hereinafter set forth." In " SCOPE OF AGREEMENT," the NMFA says that " other individual employers which have, or may, become parties to this Agreement" constitute a " single national multi-employer collective bargaining unit." On February 10, 2008, both ABF employees and YRC employees voted to ratify the 2008-2013 NMFA, with the ballots of both groups of employees aggregated to determine ratification. (Upon ratification, the Interim Agreement between ABF and the Union terminated by its own terms, but the five side agreements survived.)

Over the next three years, YRC and the Union negotiated three amendments to the NMFA that reduced the pay and benefits of YRC's Union employees, in exchange for similar reductions for YRC's executives and non-Union employees. YRC's employees

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alone ratified these amendments. While the third amendment was being negotiated, ABF requested to join the negotiations, but TNFINC refused, stating that ABF had a separate single-employer contract.

Hearing rumors of the concessions to YRC, ABF initially asked for equal concessions. After seeing the YRC-Union amendments, however, ABF sought " a cost reduction plan tailored for ABF and its employees," and later warned that " if the IBT remains entrenched in its position regarding [the imposition of] the YRC agreement [on ABF], it will be a waste of time and resources to meet further on this matter." ABF and the Union tentatively agreed on a separate package of concessions, but ABF's employees rejected it.

ABF filed a grievance pursuant to the NMFA's procedures, and simultaneously brought this case under section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act (" LMRA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). ABF claims that the YRC-Union amendments violate provisions of the NMFA that: require employers to maintain work conditions— wages, hours, etc.— at the " highest standards" in effect at the time of the NMFA; and, prohibit employers from entering agreements that conflict with the NMFA. YRC, the Union, and TMI moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). The Union also moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). After an evidentiary hearing, the district court ruled that ABF lacked standing to sue under the NMFA, dismissed the case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, while denying as moot the 12(b)(6) motion. ABF appeals.

II.

The existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is a question of law that this court reviews de novo. See Godfrey v. Pulitzer Publ'g Co., 161 F.3d 1137, 1140 (8th Cir.1998). If the district court's jurisdictional ruling " is based on the complaint alone, or on the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, the appellate court's review is limited to determining whether the district court's application of the law is correct and, if the decision is based on undisputed facts, whether those facts are indeed undisputed." Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d 724, 730 (8th Cir.1990) (internal quotation marks omitted). If the district court resolves disputed factual issues, its findings are reviewed for clear error. Id. No presumptive truthfulness attaches to the plaintiff's allegations of jurisdiction. Id.

A.

The district court found that ABF lacked constitutional standing because it failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that it had rights under the NMFA— either as a party or a third-party beneficiary. See Green Acres Enters., Inc. v. United States, 418 F.3d 852, 856 (8th Cir.2005) (burden of proving the existence of subject-matter jurisdiction is on the plaintiff).

Federal jurisdiction is limited by Article III of the Constitution to cases or controversies; if a plaintiff lacks standing to sue, the district court has no subject-matter jurisdiction. See Faibisch v. Univ. of Minn., 304 F.3d 797, 801 (8th Cir.2002). The " irreducible constitutional minimum of standing" is that a plaintiff show (1) an " injury-in-fact" that (2) is " fairly ... trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant" and (3) is " likely ... [to] be redressed by a favorable decision" in court. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992) (internal quotation marks omitted).

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B.

As to the Union defendants, ABF clearly has constitutional standing. In the Interim Agreement, ABF agreed to become a party to the new NMFA and implement its work conditions. In consideration, the Union agreed not to strike (or stop working) so long as ABF adheres to the Interim Agreement. In view of the course of dealing between ABF and the Union— detailed at length by the district court— the Union may have defenses to ABF's claims. However, as to the Union defendants and its bargaining representative TNFINC, ABF has rights under the NMFA sufficient to show an injury-in-fact that is fairly traceable to the challenged acts of the union defendants and is likely redressable in court.

C.

1.

YRC argues that ABF has no constitutional standing to assert claims against YRC, because ABF cannot show an injury-in-fact as it lacks a " legally protected interest." An " injury-in-fact" is " an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." Id. at 560, 112 S.Ct. 2130 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

A " legally protected interest" requires only a " judicially cognizable interest." In Defenders of Wildlife, the Court asked whether the interest was " cognizable" and whether plaintiffs were " among the injured." Id. at 562-63, 112 S.Ct. 2130; see also Bennett v. Spear, 520 U.S. 154, 167, 117 S.Ct. 1154, 137 L.Ed.2d 281 (1997) (omitting " legally protected interest" altogether, replacing it with " judicially cognizable interest" in defining injury-in-fact); Parker...

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