United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
April 21, 1982
JULIUS C. COLLINS, JR., PLAINTIFF,
CAR CARRIERS, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Kaftantzis at 569. See also Mitchell, supra at 1565 (Stewart,
J. concurring). This court fully concurs with this analysis.
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.