Chrysler Workers Ass'n v. Chrysler Corp.

Decision Date16 April 1986
Docket NumberNo. C 84-7273.,C 84-7273.
Citation663 F. Supp. 1134
PartiesCHRYSLER WORKERS ASSOCIATION, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CHRYSLER CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Ohio

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

Michael N. Vaporis, Toledo, Ohio, for plaintiffs.

Gerald Lackey, Thomas L. Dalrymple, John Mattimoe, Toledo, Ohio, for defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. POTTER, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Chrysler Corporation's (hereafter Chrysler) motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs' opposition thereto, Chrysler's reply, plaintiffs' surrebuttal, Chrysler's motion for leave to respond instanter thereto, the joint motion for summary judgment of defendants International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) and UAW Local Nos. 371, 1331, 1435, 2075 and 2147 (collectively hereafter Union or UAW), plaintiffs' opposition thereto, the Union's reply, plaintiffs' several surrebuttals, the Union's response thereto, the motion for summary judgment of defendant General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. (hereafter GDLS) the Union and plaintiffs' respective responses thereto, the Union's motion to strike plaintiffs' jury demand, plaintiffs' opposition thereto, plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of the Court's January 25, 1985 order, and plaintiffs' motion both for reconsideration of the Court's September 25, 1985 order and for leave to file a reply memorandum.

Plaintiff Chrysler Workers Association purportedly is a voluntary association organized for the asserted purpose of advocating certain rights of its members. The individual plaintiffs are former employees both of Chrysler Corporation and of Chrysler Defense, Inc., and they are members of defendant UAW Local Union No. 2075. In addition, plaintiffs presently are employees of GDLS at its Lima, Ohio tank plant. Defendant Chrysler Corporation is an employer in an industry affecting interstate commerce. Chrysler, inter alia, manufactures automobiles at its various production and assembly plant facilities including those located at Perrysburg, Ohio, Van Wert, Ohio, and New Castle, Indiana. Defendant International Union and defendant local unions are labor organizations in an industry affecting interstate commerce. The UAW is the exclusive collective bargaining representative for plaintiffs. Defendant General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. is an employer in an industry affecting interstate commerce. In addition, GDLS, formerly known as Chrysler Defense, Inc., owns and operates the subject Lima, Ohio tank plant.

On October 25, 1979, Chrysler and the UAW entered into a production and maintenance collective bargaining agreement (hereafter 1979 agreement) which contained, inter alia, certain provisions relating to transfer opportunities under certain circumstances for laid-off employees. At the time the 1979 agreement became effective, plaintiffs were employees of Chrysler. During 1981 and 1982, the individual plaintiffs were indefinitely laid off at various Chrysler plants due to economic factors. Notwithstanding, Chrysler Defense, Inc.'s Lima, Ohio tank plant was maintaining or expanding its production level. Chrysler and Chrysler Defense, Inc. employees had rights under the collective bargaining agreement to transfer under specified conditions between plants of the national Chrysler-UAW bargaining unit. Pursuant to a work opportunity provision of the 1979 agreement (§ 65) which provided that workers who were indefinitely laid off from a Chrysler plant could transfer to another Chrysler plant, plaintiffs all transferred from other Chrysler plants to the Chrysler Lima, Ohio tank plant. With respect to an employee's "home plant," an employee who transferred, pursuant to the work opportunity provision, to another plant within the bargaining unit, retained contractual seniority rights and under certain specified conditions could return to his "home" Chrysler plant.

In early 1982, Chrysler spun off all of its military product operations as a separate subsidiary known as Chrysler Defense, Inc. Also, in early 1982, the UAW became aware that Chrysler was negotiating with General Dynamics Corporation for the sale of Chrysler Defense, Inc. During March of 1982, the UAW and General Dynamics reached an agreement embodied in writing which, in essence, provided that General Dynamics both would recognize the UAW as the bargaining agent for employees at plants formerly operated by Chrysler Defense, Inc. and would abide by the express provisions of the 1979 agreement as to former CDI employees until its expiration on September 14, 1982.

On or about March 16, 1982, Chrysler sold its total ownership stock shares of Chrysler Defense, Inc. which operated Chrysler's defense plants including the Lima, Ohio tank plant, to General Dynamics Corporation. General Dynamics both renamed Chrysler Defense, Inc. and incorporated its new business as General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. (GDLS). Subsequently, GDLS agreed to honor both the principal and applicable terms of the 1979 agreement between Chrysler and the UAW until its expiration.

On September 14, 1982, the collective bargaining agreements both between the UAW and Chrysler and between the UAW and GDLS expired. The UAW and GDLS negotiated a new production and maintenance collective bargaining agreement which became effective September 27, 1982 and which expired September 14, 1985 (hereafter 1982 agreement), the terms and conditions of which governed each plaintiff's employment with GDLS. National negotiations between Chrysler and the UAW culminated in collective bargaining agreements of December 10, 1982 and September 5, 1983. The 1982 agreement between the UAW and GDLS did not contain any transfer provision either continuing the provisions of the 1979 agreement regarding return to "home" plants or regarding transfer of a GDLS employee to another company.

Sometime subsequent to the aforesaid sale of Chrysler Defense, Inc. to General Dynamics, Chrysler, due to improved economic factors, began to expand its work force at certain of its plants, after which time plaintiffs sought to return from GDLS's Lima tank plant to their "home" Chrysler plants. Such attempts of plaintiffs were unsuccessful. In 1983 and 1984, several GDLS employees filed or sought to file grievances with respect to a perceived refusal to allow said employees to return to their "home" Chrysler plants. The Union did not process those grievances that were actually filed, nor would it file any grievance with respect to the "home" plant transfer issue. No GDLS employee at the Lima tank plant was indefinitely laid off between March, 1982 and September 14, 1982. As of March 23, 1984, the date this lawsuit was commenced, plaintiffs had not been separated from GDLS; rather, they continue to be employed by GDLS at the Lima, Ohio tank plant.

On March 23, 1984, plaintiffs commenced this labor action by filing their complaint with this Court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 3. Plaintiffs' complaint, as amended, alleges breach of the applicable collective bargaining agreements, breach of the Union's duty of fair representation, violation of the Union's constitution and bylaws and misrepresentation. Specifically, by their first cause of action plaintiffs allege, albeit implicitly, that Chrysler and the Union, in violation of the existing collective bargaining agreements, entered into surreptitious agreements which extinguished plaintiffs' rights to return to their "home" Chrysler plants. Plaintiffs claim that by unilaterally abrogating plaintiffs' "home" plant transfer rights, Chrysler breached the 1979 collective bargaining agreement and the Union breached its duty to the individually named plaintiffs to fairly represent them. By their second cause of action, plaintiffs allege that the Union further breached its duty of fair representation by its arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory handling of certain grievances which plaintiffs' either filed or attempted to file. Plaintiffs claim that the manner in which the Union handled plaintiffs' grievances allowed Chrysler "to breach the collective bargaining agreement with impunity." By their third cause of action, plaintiffs allege that while simultaneously entering into an agreement in violation of the Union's constitution and bylaws with Chrysler and GDLS to the contrary, the Union "intentionally and/or negligently misrepresented to the Plaintiffs ... that the sale of Chrysler Defense, Inc. to General Dynamics Corp. ... would have no adverse effect on their existing right to return to their `home plants.'" Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, damages for lost wages, lost benefits, and lost seniority rights, punitive damages, and the costs of this action including reasonable attorney's fees.

Plaintiffs' lawsuit is what has come to be referred to as a hybrid § 301/fair representation action, see, e.g., DelCostello v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 165, 103 S.Ct. 2281, 2291, 76 L.Ed.2d 476 (1983), which action is brought simultaneously against both plaintiffs' employer and their Union. Plaintiffs' suit against Chrysler rests on § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185, for breach of the applicable collective bargaining agreement by an employer. DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 164, 103 S.Ct. at 2290. Plaintiffs' action against the Union is one both for breach of the Union's duty of fair representation and for the Union's violation of the constitution and bylaws. The duty of a union to fairly represent the members of a particular bargaining unit, which members it represents collectively, is judicially implied under Section 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. § 159(a). See Storey v. Local 327, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers, 759 F.2d 517, 518-19 (6th Cir.1985). Cf. DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 164, 103 S.Ct. at 2290; International Brotherhood of Electrical...

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