In re Bituminous Coal Wage Agreements Litigation

Decision Date21 February 1984
Docket NumberMisc. No. 9604. MDL 536.
Citation580 F. Supp. 670
PartiesIn re BITUMINOUS COAL WAGE AGREEMENTS LITIGATION.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Pennsylvania

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

David McNeil Olds (argued), Daniel I. Booker, Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, Pa. for Duquesne Light Co., Associated Electric Coop., Union Carbide Corp. and U.S. Fuel Co.

John L. Kilcullen, Kilcullen, Wilson & Kilcullen, Washington, D.C. for Reitz Coal Co. and Doe Valley Coal Co.

Anthony J. Polito, Corcoran, Hardesty, Ewart, Whyte & Polito, Pittsburgh, Pa. for Consolidation Coal Co., Royalty Smokeless

Coal Co., Shannon Pocahontas Coal Co., Virginia Crews Coal Co., Gilbert Fuel Co., and La Luz Ohio, Inc.

Gregg M. Rosen, Rosen & Mahfood, Pittsburgh, Pa. for Old Home Manor, Inc.

Harry L. Hopkins, Charles C. Pinckney, Lange, Simpson, Robinson & Somerville, Birmingham, Ala. for Pulltight Coal, Inc., Lakeside Coal Co. and Kinlock Coal, Inc.

John W. Latella, Cauley, Conflenti & Latella, Pittsburgh, Pa. for Luzerne Coal Corp.

Jeffrey J. Leech, Tucker Arensberg, Pittsburgh, Pa. for West Newton Coal Logistics.

Stephen J. Pollak, Wendy S. White (argued), Shea & Gardner, Washington, D.C. for the Trustees of the United Mine Workers of America Health and Retirement Funds.

Willard P. Owens (argued), Washington, D.C. for International Union, United Mine Workers of America.

OPINION

MANSMANN, District Judge.

This matter comes before this Court on Motions for Summary Judgment filed by certain Plaintiffs1 and Defendants2 in this multidistrict litigation.3

In thirteen of the nineteen cases before this Court,4 the Plaintiffs are the Trustees ("Trustees") of various pension plans (the "Funds") established by the United Mine Workers of America (the "Union") and have commenced these actions against various coal-producing and/or utilizing corporations (the "Industry") to recover claimed deficiencies in contributions to the Funds. Additionally, in some of these cases, the Union is a Plaintiff-intervenor5 or a Counterclaim Defendant.6 The Industry Defendants resisted these claims by asserting, inter alia, in their Counterclaims and/or Answers that the provision of the collective bargaining agreements under which the Funds are sought contains a clause which is illegal and unenforceable as it is violative of § 1 of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. § 1) and/or § 8(e) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C. § 158(e)).

Article XX, Section (d)(1)(v) of the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreements ("Wage Agreement") of 1974, 1978 and 1981 contains the clause which is at issue (the "purchased-coal clause").7 By its terms, the purchased-coal clause sets forth, inter alia, that signatory Industry members are to contribute to the Funds whenever coal is purchased for sale or use by the signatory "on which contributions to the appropriate Trusts ... have not been made."

In the remaining six cases before this Court,8 the Plaintiffs are various members of the Industry which have commenced suits against the Trustees and the Union, alleging that the purchased-coal clause is illegal and unenforceable as it is violative of 15 U.S.C. § 1 and 29 U.S.C. § 158(e). The Defendants in all six of these cases are both the Trustees and the Union.

In each of the cases under consideration, the movants are the Industry members (with one exception).9 Every Industry movant has applied to this Court for summary judgment contending, inter alia, that the purchased-coal clauses in the Wage Agreements of 1974, 1978 and/or 1981 are "union signatory" agreements and illegal under 29 U.S.C. § 158(e).10 Some Industry movants further contend that the purchased-coal clauses are per se violative of 15 U.S.C. § 1 as an unlawful group boycott.11

The Industry movants seek declaratory and injunctive relief, i.e., that this Court find the purchased-coal clause to be illegal and unenforceable under 15 U.S.C. § 1 and/or 29 U.S.C. § 158(e) and that this Court permanently enjoin its enforcement. Additionally, of those movants claiming violations of 15 U.S.C. § 1 and 29 U.S.C. § 158(e) and seeking injunctive relief, some have asserted claims for damages in their Complaints or Counterclaims and have sought summary judgment as to liability only.12

For the reasons set forth below, the Trustees' motion for summary judgment is denied and the Industry's motions for summary judgment are granted in part and denied in part. More specifically, this Court finds the purchased-coal clause to be violative of 29 U.S.C. § 158(e) and permanently enjoins its enforcement. The Industry movants' applications for summary judgment based on this ground are granted. For the reasons set forth in the Opinion, the Industry's motions for summary judgment based upon the claimed antitrust violations are denied.

* * *

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On December 6, 1974, March 27, 1978 and June 6, 1981, the Union, the Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, Inc. and others entered into collective bargaining agreements, the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreements of 1974,13 197814 and 1981,15 respectively.

Included in the Wage Agreements of 1974, 1978 and 1981 is the purchased-coal clause, Article XX, section (d)(1)(v), which provides in pertinent part as follows:

In addition to the contributions indicated above, during the life of the Agreement, each signatory Employer shall, for the periods of time indicated below, contribute to the Trusts established in this Article in the amounts shown below based on cents per ton on each ton of two thousand (2,000) pounds of bituminous coal after production by another operator, procured or acquired by such Employer for use or for sale on which contributions to the appropriate Trusts as provided for in this Article have not been made (amounts shown below include cents per hour worked contributions converted to tonnage equivalents).

Pursuant to the purchased-coal clause of the Wage Agreements of 1974, 1978 and 1981, each "Employer"16 (Industry signatory) was required to make contributions to the Funds based on the amount of coal produced by the signatory. Additionally, each Industry signatory was required to make contributions to the Funds based upon the amount of coal purchased for sale or use by the signatory "on which contributions to the appropriate Trusts ... have not been made."17 Thus, any coal purchased from a non-signatory (nonunion producer) would appear to obligate the Industry signatory to contribute specified amounts to the appropriate Funds.

A common pattern emanating from each of the cases before this Court is that the Industry signatories made contributions to the Funds with respect to coal they produced but did not make contributions to the Funds with respect to coal which they purchased. The instant controversy centers entirely around this distinction as it relates to the purchased-coal clause.

These actions commonly arise under and jurisdiction is predicated upon § 301 of the Labor Management Act, 29 U.S.C. § 18518 and §§ 502 and 515 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, ("ERISA") as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 113219 and 1145.20

* * * * * *

Under FED.R.CIV.P. 56, summary judgment may be entered only "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Continental Ins. Co. v. Bodie, 682 F.2d 436, 438 (3d Cir.1982) (citations omitted). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has made clear that any doubts as to the existence of genuine issues of fact are to be resolved against the moving parties. Further, the facts and inferences to be drawn must be viewed in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion. Continental Ins. Co. v. Bodie, 682 F.2d 436 (3d Cir.1982).

* * *

THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT

It is the contention of the Industry movants that the purchased-coal clause in the 1974, 1978 and 1981 Wage Agreements21 violates § 8(e) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 158(e) which provides in pertinent part as follows:

It shall be an unfair labor practice for any labor organization and any employer to enter into any contract or agreement, express or implied, whereby such employer ceases or refrains or agrees to cease or refrain from handling, using, selling, transporting or otherwise dealing in any of the products of any other employer, or to cease doing business with any other person, and any contract or agreement entered into heretofore or hereafter containing such an agreement shall be to such extent unenforceable and void...

The Industry members assert that the illegality of the purchased-coal clause stems from the fact that it is not "primary" in objective, i.e., is not addressed to labor relations between individual employers and its employees. Thus, the Industry contends, the clause, on its face, is "secondary" and "union signatory" as it seeks to benefit all union members rather than the members of the individual "work units." (The "work unit", the Industry asserts, properly encompasses the individual employers' employees and does not extend to all union members.)22

Moreover, the Industry members contend that the clause is not redeemed because it does not serve any legitimate "primary" objective, i.e., "work preservation" or "union standards."

The Industry members also claim that a penalty is placed on the purchase of all coal from non-signatories, which they claim discriminates against this group and also penalizes the Industry member signatory.23 Furthermore, the Industry claims that the 1950 and the 1974 Pension Plans (which have been incorporated into each of the Wage Agreements), state that contributions to the Funds may only be made by an "employer", who is defined therein as a signatory to the Wage Agreement.24 Thus, according to the Industry, even if a non-signatory wished to make...

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