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United Association of Journeymen v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 31, 2015



GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.


Pending before the court are: (1) the cross-motions for summary judgment filed by plaintiff United Association of Journeymen and Apprentice Plumbers and Pipefitters of the United States and Canada, Local 74 ("Local 74") and defendant International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 313 ("Local 313") (D.I. 27, 36); (2) Local 74's motion to strike (D.I. 41); (3) Local 313's cross-motion for leave to supplement the record (D.I. 42); (4) Magistrate Judge Fallon's Report and Recommendation ("the R&R"), dated January 27, 2015 (D.I. 45); and the Objections filed by Local 313 on February 23, 2015. (D.I. 48.) For the reasons below, the court will sustain Local 313's objections and reject the R&R. Thus, the court will deny Local 74's motion for summary judgment and grant Local 313's motion for summary judgment. The motion to strike and motion for leave to supplement the record are denied as moot.


Magistrate Judge Fallon found that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement ("CBA")-which, among other things, outlines the procedures for deducting money from employees' paychecks as payment of membership dues for both Local 74 and Local 313-were ambiguous. (D.I. 45 at 10.) Specifically, Magistrate Judge Fallon stated:

Whereas §§ 7(1) and 10(a) of the CBA suggest that members of Local 74 need only remit dues to their own union, § 10(e) could be construed to require all employees, regardless of whether they are associated with Local 74 or Local 313, to remit dues to Local 313 as compensation for its role as the exclusive collective bargaining representative. Therefore, the terms of the CBA are ambiguous....

( Id. ) Ultimately, the magistrate judge determined that the CBA did not permit Local 313 to draw from Local 74 employees' wages; the money was to be forwarded in its entirety to Local 74. Magistrate Judge Fallon found that the extrinsic evidence supported this view.

Local 313 objects to the magistrate judge's conclusions in the R&R. Local 313 maintains that the CBA is clear and unambiguous-pursuant to the terms, Local 313 was entitled to a portion of Local 74's dues, as compensation for its role as the exclusive bargaining representative. (D.I. 48 at 2-3.) Moreover, Local 313 argues that the magistrate judge's construction is at odds with Congress's statutory scheme permitting the use of "agency shop" or "union security" clauses; indeed, Local 313 maintains that the construction nullifies such a provision in the CBA entirely. ( Id. at 3-8.) Local 313 also contends that the language of "dues authorization cards" is inconsistent and should not have factored into the magistrate judge's analysis. ( Id. at 8-9.) Finally, Local 313 argues that Local 74 failed to exhaust all of its remedies, outlined in the AFL-CIO Constitution. ( Id. at 9-10.)


The magistrate judge submitted her R&R pursuant to Rule 72(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; the pending objections, therefore, are dispositive and the court's review is de nova. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The court may accept, reject, or modify the recommendations of the magistrate judge. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The court also may receive further evidence or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions for further proceedings. Id.

Summary judgment is appropriate "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." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Boyle v. Cnty. of Allegheny Pa., 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). Thus, summary judgment is appropriate only if the moving party shows there are no genuine issues of material fact that would permit a reasonable jury to find for the non-moving party. Boyle, 139 F.3d at 393. A fact is material only if it might affect the outcome of the suit. Id. (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986)). An issue is genuine if a reasonable jury could possibly find in favor of the non-moving party with regard to that issue. Id.

In deciding the motion, the court must construe all facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Id. In determining the appropriateness of summary judgment, a court must review the record as a whole and "draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, [but] may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence." Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000). The moving party is also entitled to judgment as a matter of law if the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing or adduce evidence on an essential element of its case for which it has the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The standard by which the court decides a summary judgment motion does not change when the parties file cross-motions. Appelmans v. City of Phila., 826 F.2d 214, 216 (3d Cir. 1987). Cross-motions for summary judgment:

are no more than a claim by each side that it alone is entitled to summary judgment, and the making of such inherently contradictory claims does not constitute an agreement that if one is rejected the other is necessarily justified or that the losing party waives judicial consideration and determination whether genuine issues of material fact exist.

Rains v. Cascade Indus., Inc., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968). "The filing of cross-motions for summary judgment does not require the court to grant summary judgment for either party." Krupa v. New ...

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