Hydrostorage, Inc. v. Northern California Boilermakers Local Joint Apprenticeship Committee

Decision Date06 December 1989
Docket Number88-2802,88-2966,88-2968 and 88-2969,88-2800,Nos. 88-2798,s. 88-2798
Citation891 F.2d 719
Parties, 114 Lab.Cas. P 56,163, 11 Employee Benefits Cas. 2225 HYDROSTORAGE, INC., a Tennessee Corporation, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BOILERMAKERS LOCAL JOINT APPRENTICESHIP COMMITTEE, an unincorporated association; Division of Apprenticeship Standards; Gail W. Jesswein, in his capacity as Chief of the Division of Apprenticeship Standards; California Apprenticeship Council, Defendants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit

John M. Rea, Chief Counsel, Dept. of Indus. Relations, Miles Washington, Deputy Atty. Gen., David A. Rosenfeld, Van Bourg, Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld, and Marsha S. Berzon, Altshuler & Berzon, San Francisco, Cal., for defendants-appellants.

Karen E. Ford, Littler, Mendelson, Fastiff & Tichy, San Francisco, Cal., for plaintiff-appellee; James P. Baker, San Francisco, Cal., on brief.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Before WALLACE and NOONAN, Circuit Judges, and BURNS, * District Judge.

WALLACE, Circuit Judge:

In these consolidated appeals, the Northern California Boilermakers Joint Local Apprenticeship Committee, California Apprenticeship Council, and California Division of Apprenticeship Standards (collectively Boilermakers) appeal from the district court's summary judgment in favor of Hydrostorage, Inc. (Hydrostorage). The district court enjoined the enforcement of an administrative order against Hydrostorage, concluding that such enforcement was preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1144(a), and by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. On appeal, Boilermakers argue that the district court (1) lacked subject matter jurisdiction, (2) erred in failing to abstain under either the Younger or Pullman doctrines, and (3) erred in granting summary judgment based on ERISA and NLRA preemption. The district court exercised jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. We have jurisdiction over this timely appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm.


This case arises out of California's efforts to regulate apprenticeship on public works projects. California's general administrative framework for regulating apprenticeships is complex. The California Apprenticeship Council (Council) is a six-member entity created by state statute and empowered to issue rules and regulations establishing minimum standards of wages, hours, and working conditions for apprentices. Cal. Labor Code §§ 3070, 3071 (West Supp.1989). The Council is located in the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (Division), which in turn is part of California's Department of Industrial Relations. Id. The Director of Industrial Relations serves as the Administrator of Apprenticeship (Administrator), in which capacity he or his delegees carry out such duties as investigating and determining charges of alleged violations of the terms of apprenticeship agreements. Cal. Labor Code §§ 3072, 3081 (1971); 8 Cal.Code Reg. § 202 (1988). A determination by the Administrator may be appealed to the Council. Cal. Labor Code § 3082 (West Supp.1989); 8 Cal.Code Reg. § 203 (1988).

The Division approves written apprenticeship standards which are submitted to it, if those standards conform to the Council's minimum requirements. Cal. Labor Code § 3073 (West Supp.1989); 8 Cal.Code Reg. § 212 (1988). Standards of apprenticeship may be submitted for approval by any "apprenticeship program sponsor," which includes joint apprenticeship committees, unilateral labor or management apprenticeship committees, or individual employers. Cal. Labor Code § 3075 (West Supp.1989). For the craft of boilermaker, the Council in May 1974 approved a set of apprenticeship standards contained in a document entitled "Boilermakers Standards of Apprenticeship for Field Construction and Repair in Eight Western States Area" (Standards). Subsequent to 1974, the Standards were amended to implement an equal employment opportunity program approved by the Division.

An employer in California may gain the right and responsibility to train Boilermaker apprentices in either of two ways. Employers who are signatory to the collective bargaining agreement with the relevant union--the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (Union)--become bound to the Standards by virtue of a clause in the collective bargaining agreement which so stipulates. On the other hand, employers who are not parties to the collective bargaining agreement (such as non-union contractors or contractors signatory to some other collective bargaining agreement) must apply to a local joint apprenticeship committee for approval to train on public works projects in accordance with the Standards. Cal. Labor Code § 1777.5 (West Supp.1989); 8 Cal.Code Reg. § 229 (1988). Contractors approved to train by the joint apprenticeship committee are sent a certificate of approval.

Hydrostorage, a Tennessee corporation, is not a signatory to the Union's collective bargaining agreement. Hydrostorage is a contractor engaged in the construction of water storage facilities. Much of Hydrostorage's work consists of public works projects. In the fall of 1986, Hydrostorage was awarded a public works contract to construct a water storage tank for the Lathrop County Water District in Lathrop, California (Lathrop project).

The State of California imposes certain conditions relating to apprentices upon contractors and subcontractors who perform contracts awarded by the state or its political subdivisions. See Cal. Labor Code § 1777.5 (West Supp.1989). 1 Under section 1777.5 of the California Labor Code, contractors, with certain exceptions not relevant to this case, must (1) "apply to the joint apprenticeship committee administering the apprenticeship standards of the craft or trade in the area of the site of the public work for a certificate approving the contractor or subcontractor under the apprenticeship standards for the employment and training of apprentices in the area or industry affected"; (2) employ apprentices in a ratio of no less than one apprentice for every five journeymen; and (3) "contribute to the fund or funds in each craft or trade in which [the contractor] employs journeymen or apprentices on the public work in the same amount or upon the same basis and in the same manner as the other contractors do." Id. As for the contribution requirement, if apprenticeship "trust fund administrators are unable to accept [the] funds, contractors not signatory to the trust agreement" must pay "a like amount to the California Apprenticeship Council." Id.

The Northern California Boilermakers Local Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Committee) administers the approved apprenticeship standards for the boilermaker craft in the Lathrop area. The Committee is composed of equal numbers of persons appointed by labor and management. See Cal. Labor Code § 3075 (West Supp.1989).

For willful noncompliance with section 1777.5's requirements, a contractor is subject to civil penalties and debarment from bidding on public works contracts for one year. Id. § 1777.7. The parties do not dispute that section 1777.5 applies to the Lathrop project, or that Hydrostorage neither applied to the Committee for a certificate of approval nor employed any apprentices on the project.

On September 25, 1986, the Committee filed a complaint regarding the Lathrop project with the Division. The Division investigated the allegations and issued an administrative complaint against Hydrostorage on January 26, 1987. The administrative complaint alleged that Hydrostorage had violated section 1777.5 by failing to (1) apply for permission to employ and train apprentices, (2) make timely contributions to the apprenticeship trust fund, and (3) employ apprentices in the legally required ratio. The complaint was scheduled to be heard before a hearing officer on May 14, 1987.

On May 13, one day before the administrative hearing was scheduled to take place, Hydrostorage filed an action in federal court, seeking a declaration that section 1777.5 was preempted by ERISA and the NLRA. Hydrostorage also sought a preliminary injunction against the administrative proceedings. At a hearing on May 13, 1987, the district judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the administrative hearing. The administrative hearing took place as scheduled on the following day.

After various motions were filed in the federal action, the district court entered an order of abstention on September 25, 1987, based upon the existence of pending state judicial or administrative proceedings.

Two days later, on September 27, 1987, the administrative determination was issued. The Director of the Division found that Hydrostorage had willfully violated section 1777.5 "by failing to apply to the [Committee] for approval to train apprentices in the Lathrop Project [and] by failing to employ the mandatory ratio of apprentices to journeymen on the Lathrop project." The Director ordered Hydrostorage barred from bidding on public works contracts for one year and assessed a civil penalty. Id.

Although the administrative complaint had alleged that Hydrostorage had violated section 1777.5 by "fail[ing] to make timely contributions to the training fund or the California Apprenticeship Council," the Division found no willful violation of this charge. Instead, the Division regarded Hydrostorage's contributions to the Council, a state agency, as sufficient to satisfy the statutory requirement.

Hydrostorage filed a timely administrative appeal of the determination to the Council's Appeal Board. See id. § 3082. The Council issued its decision on January 28, 1988, reversing the administrator's determination that Hydrostorage had willfully failed to train...

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