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Jones Lang Lasalle Americas, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 11, 2017

JONES LANG LASALLE AMERICAS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL 313, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM

         At Wilmington this 11th day of July, 2017, having reviewed the motion to dismiss filed by defendant and the papers filed in connection therewith, the court issues its decision based on the following reasoning:

         1. Background.

         Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, Inc. ("plaintiff or "JLLA") operates office facilities on behalf of JP Morgan Chase at two locations in Delaware. (D.I. 1, ¶ 10) Defendant International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 313 ("defendant" or "Local 313") is the exclusive bargaining unit for certain JLLA employees at these locations. (Id., ¶ 11) The employment relationship between JLLA and Local 313's members is governed by a collective bargaining agreement ("the CBA"), which sets out a three-step process for the settlement of disputes regarding the interpretation or application of the CBA. (Id., ¶¶ 12-13) Specifically, Section 26 of the CBA provides that:[1]

(A) Should a difference or dispute arise between the parties hereto as to the interpretation or application of this contract, it shall be resolved in accordance with the following procedure:
Step 1: In the first instance, the grievance shall be submitted in writing by the employee, with the shop steward of the Union, to the Company's Account Manager or other manager designated by the Company ("Designee"). The grievance must be submitted within 0 [sic] working days of the action giving rise to the grievance. A meeting with the employee, shop steward, the Critical Sites Operation Manager and/or Designee or other individuals as determined by the Company will be held to resolve the grievance.
Step 2: If the grievance is not resolved within 5 business days after the above meeting, the business representative may present the grievance to the Company's Account Manager.
Step 3: If the grievance is not settled within 10 business days following Step 2, either party may submit the grievance to the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its rules.
The decision of the arbitrator shall be binding on both parties and the cost of the arbitrator will be borne equally by both parties. Each party shall be responsible for its, his or her counsel fees.
(B) Any grievance that has not [been] referred to arbitration within 30 days after the aggrieved party knew of the existence of the facts or circumstances giving rise to the grievance shall be deemed to have been waived, unless the parties have agreed that the grievance is [a] continuing grievance. In this case only the claims for damages or relief for events occurring more than 30 days prior to the presentation to the written grievance shall be deemed to have been waived. The time frame of 30 days may be extended upon mutual consent of the Union and the Company.
(C) If the grievance concerns a decision by the Company that directly affects the entire bargaining unit, the parties agree to attempt to select an acceptable arbitrator through the American Arbitration Association who will be able to hold an arbitration hearing between 30 days of the arbitrator's selection from the panel, and shall notify the American Arbitration Association of this request at the time of the filing of the demand for arbitration.

(Id., ¶ 13) (emphasis added)

         2. Members of the United Association of Journeyman and Apprentice Plumbers and Pipefitters of the United States and Canada, Local 74 ("Local 74") also perform work at JLLA's Delaware sites. On or about April 7, 2015, the business manager for Local 313 ("Drummond") sent a letter to JLLA's managing director ("Prodan"). In that letter, Drummond informed JLLA that Local 74 members were obligated to pay regular dues or agency shop fees to Local 313, and that failure to do so may result in efforts by Local 313 to terminate the employment of such Local 74 members by JLLA. (Id., ¶¶ 22-23) After a failed attempt on the part of Local 74 and Local 313 to resolve the dues dispute through mediation, Drummond sent a second letter in September 2015 to Prodan, notifying JLLA of its "continuing obligation to terminate all employees [of Local 74] that have not paid such fees and are in violation with [the CBA's Agency Shop clause]." (Id., ¶¶ 24-26) Attached to this second letter was a list of 16 employees who were identified by Drummond as being subject to termination, none of whom have been terminated by JLLA. (Id., ¶¶ 27-28)

         3. On January 27, 2016, counsel for Local 313 sent a letter to the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") stating that Local 313 and JLLA had an "unresolved dispute relating to Agency Fees." JLLA then filed a complaint for declaratory relief, seeking a determination that the parties' dispute is not arbitrable. In response, Local 313 has filed a motion to dismiss. The court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, based on § 301 of the ...


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