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COLLINS v. CAR CARRIERS

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D


April 21, 1982

JULIUS C. COLLINS, JR., PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAR CARRIERS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.

ORDER

Plaintiff, Julius C. Collins, a black man, was employed by defendant, Car Carriers, Inc. (Car Carriers or employer). In October, 1979, Collins was discharged from that position. Defendant, Local Union No. 710 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Local 710 or union) represented Collins. Collins submitted a grievance through Local 710, alleging that he had been discharged because of his race.*fn1 In accord with the collective bargaining agreement between Car Carriers and Local 710, a grievance hearing was held on October 23, 1979 at which Collins was represented by the union. Collins' request for reinstatement was denied. On November 8, 1979, Collins' case was submitted to the Joint Auto Transport Committee which upheld the discharge.

On January 2, 1980, Collins filed a charge of race discrimination against Car Carriers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC issued Collins a right to sue letter on February 29, 1980. Collins filed a pro se complaint in this court against Car Carriers on June 3, 1980, alleging that the company discharged him because of his race. Counsel was appointed to represent Collins and an amended complaint was filed adding Local 710 as a defendant. Count I of the amended complaint alleged that the company and the union had violated Collins' civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-15 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. Count II alleged that the union had failed to fairly represent Collins in his unlawful discharge action against Car Carriers. The action was brought under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 185.

In a prior order, this court found that the plaintiff was aware of his breach of duty of fair representation claim against the union on January 2, 1980*fn2 (see Minute Order of December 17, 1981), and that, as a result, plaintiff's cause of action was barred by Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 10, § 112(b). The case is presently before this court on plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. The court has, upon further reflection, reconsidered its prior order and holds as follows:

  1)  The union's motion for summary judgment on
      that portion of Count I alleging a claim
      under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-15 is granted.

  2)  The union's motion for summary judgment on
      the portion of Count I alleging a claim under
      42 U.S.C. § 1981 is denied.

  3)  Plaintiff's § 301 claim (Count II) is
      dismissed as to the union, as it is barred by
      the appropriate statute of limitations,
      29 U.S.C. § 160(b). Plaintiff may, however, go
      forward with its § 301 claim against the
      employer. The latter is not time-barred.

Plaintiff contends that he was not discharged for just cause as required by the collective bargaining agreement governing the terms and conditions of his employment. The nominal parties to the collective bargaining agreement are the employer and the union. Plaintiff's pro se complaint, as originally filed on June 3, 1980, focused solely on the employer's breach of the collective bargaining agreement. Plaintiff's amended complaint, filed on September 19, 1980 by his court-appointed attorney, again raised plaintiff's claim against the employer and added a second count alleging the union's breach of its duty of fair representation.

The union has moved for dismissal of and/or summary judgment on Count I, arguing that the claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-15 is barred because plaintiff did not file a timely EEOC charge against the union. The union also argues that the claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 should be discharged because it is frivolous.

Both defendants have moved for dismissal of and/or summary judgment on Count II, arguing that the § 301 claim is barred because plaintiff did not file suit within the applicable statute of limitations.

I.

The union's motion for summary judgment with respect to that portion of Count I alleging a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e — 2000e-15 is granted for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Timely filing of an EEOC charge is a jurisdictional prerequisite to bringing suit under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-15. United Air Lines v. Evans, 431 U.S. 553, 97 S.Ct. 1885, 52 L.Ed.2d 571 (1977). Plaintiff admits he did not satisfy this jurisdictional prerequisite as to Local 710.

The union's motion for summary judgment on the portion of Count I alleging a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 is denied. The claim is properly before the court.

II.

Both parties have moved to dismiss Count II of plaintiff's complaint on the ground that it is barred by the appropriate statute of limitation. This court finds that the statute of limitation to be applied with respect to both parties to this action is the six-month period contained in § 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act. 29 U.S.C. § 160(b). As applied to this case, the limitation period bars plaintiff's claim as to defendant Local 710. Plaintiff's claim against defendant Car Carriers may proceed to trial.

A.

In United Parcel Service v. Mitchell, 451 U.S. 56, 101 S.Ct. 1559, 67 L.Ed.2d 732 (1981), the Supreme Court held that an action under § 301 similar to that brought against the employer and union here should be governed by the state statute of limitation applicable to actions seeking to vacate an arbitration award. The Court specifically declined, however, to rule on the issue of whether the six-month limitation period found in § 10(b) of the National Labor Relations Act should govern the action because the issue was not properly raised by the parties. 451 U.S. at 60 n. 2, 101 S.Ct. at 1562 n. 2. See also Id. at 1565 (Blackmun, J., concurring). The court of appeals for this circuit has also mentioned but not reached the question of whether § 10(b) should be applied. See Davidson v. Roadway Express, 650 F.2d 902, 904 n. 2 (7th Cir. 1981).

Recently, when confronted with the issue which the Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit have declined to address, a court in this district adopted the six-month limitation period of § 10(b). See Kaftantzis v. D & L Transport Co. and Automobile Mechanics Union, Local 701, 531 F. Supp. 566 (N.D.Ill. 1982).

Congress has not enacted a specific statute of limitation governing actions brought under § 301 of the LMRA. The timeliness of a § 301 action is to be determined as a matter of federal law, "which courts must fashion from the policy of our national labor laws." International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers v. Hoosier Cardinal Corp., 383 U.S. 696, 701, 86 S.Ct. 1107, 1110, 16 L.Ed.2d 192 (1966) (quoting Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills of Alabama, 353 U.S. 448, 456, 77 S.Ct. 912, 917, 1 L.Ed.2d 972 (1957)).

In Kaftantzis, Judge Marshall, interpreting applicable national labor policy in a well-reasoned opinion with which this court fully concurs, noted that a § 301 claim is unique because "before plaintiff may recover, he must demonstrate that the union breached its duty of fair representation,*fn3 see Hines v. Anchor Motor Freight, Inc., 424 U.S. 554, 96 S.Ct. 1048, 47 L.Ed.2d 231 (1976); Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 87 S.Ct. 903, 17 L.Ed.2d 842 (1967) . . . [and the] duty of fair representation is itself derived from the National Labor Relations Act, see Clayton v. International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers, 451 U.S. 679, 689, 101 S.Ct. 2088, 2095, 68 L.Ed.2d 538 (1981); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Foust, 442 U.S. 42, 46 n. 8, 99 S.Ct. 2121, 2124 n. 8, 60 L.Ed.2d 698 (1979); Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177, 186-87, 87 S.Ct. 903, 909, 914-15, 17 L.Ed.2d 842 (1967)." 531 F. Supp. at 569. Judge Marshall also noted that the National Labor Relations Board considers the breach of the duty of fair representation to be an unfair labor practice under the NLRA. Id.; see also Miranda Fuel Co., 140 N.L.R.B. 181 (1962), enforcement denied sub nom. NLRB v. Miranda Fuel Co., 326 F.2d 172 (2d Cir. 1963).

On the basis of the above considerations, Judge Marshall in Kaftantzis concluded the following:

  "[I]t makes much more sense to view the NLRA as
  the appropriate statute to look to for a statute
  of limitation than are state arbitration
  statutes. Because suits such as the instant one
  involve rights under the NLRA, and not simply
  private contractual rights and duties, the NLRA
  and not state statutes governing private
  arbitration contain a more appropriate limitation
  period than do the state statutes. Section 10(b)
  of the NLRA represents a congressional judgment
  as to the appropriate balance between an
  employee's interest in vindicating his rights and
  the overall interest in industrial peace and
  attaining some measure of finality in the
  arbitral process. Local Lodge No. 1424 v. NLRB,
  362 U.S. 411, 428-29, 80 S.Ct. 822, 832-33, 4 L.Ed.2d
  832 (1960). This congressional balance, because it
  represents the judgment of the national
  legislature, is of necessity more responsive to the
  needs of national labor policy than are state
  statutes."*fn4

Kaftantzis at 569. See also Mitchell, supra at 1565 (Stewart, J. concurring). This court fully concurs with this analysis.

B.

In the instant case, plaintiff filed a timely allegation of unjust discharge against the employer. His cause of action accrued on January 2, 1980. See Minute Order of December 17, 1981. His pro se complaint was filed on June 3, 1980, well within the six-month limitation period of § 10(b). The plaintiff's § 301 claim against the union, however, was first asserted in the amended complaint of September 19, 1980, beyond the six-month period of § 10(b). Therefore, the union's motion to dismiss Count II as to it is granted. The employer's motion to dismiss Count II is denied, however. Since the employer has been on notice of the plaintiff's claim at all times since January 2, 1980, the employer suffers no prejudice due to the absence or presence of the union as a co-defendant.*fn5

This court is of the opinion that this order involves a controlling question of law as to which there is a substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of this litigation. See 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Defendant may seek leave to appeal from the Seventh Circuit within ten days after entry of this order. Id.


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