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Superczynski v. P.T.O. Services Inc.

decided: April 19, 1983.

WILLIAM K. SUPERCZYNSKI, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
P.T.O. SERVICES, INC. AND CHICAGO TRUCK DRIVERS, HELPERS AND WAREHOUSE WORKERS UNION (INDEPENDENT), DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 78 C 2927-George N. Leighton, Judge.

Cummings, Chief Judge, Bauer and Eschbach, Circuit Judges.

Author: Bauer

BAUER, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff William K. Superczynski sued Defendants P.T.O. Services, Inc., his employer since 1977, and Chicago Truck Drivers, Helpers and Warehouse Workers Union (Independent) under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 185(a) (1947), charging wrongful termination of employment and breach by the Union of its duty of fair representation.

The district court granted both defendants' motions for summary judgment, finding that the plaintiff had not established that the Union's conduct toward him was arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith. Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 190, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842, 87 S. Ct. 903 (1967). The court noted that the plaintiff could not sustain a charge against his employer, P.T.O. Services, in the absence of proof that the Union breached its duty of fair representation. We affirm.

I

The plaintiff was fired from his job with P.T.O. Services on February 1, 1978, as a result of an incident on January 28, 1978. On January 28, the plaintiff, while delivering a load of fifty percent caustic soda to one of P.T.O. Services' customers, refused either to produce or to wear a protective, waterproof coat. The plaintiff argued that he had never been required to carry such gear with him, and did not have it that night. He contended that this customer had never before required him to be so attired. Additionally, he noted that he already was wearing several layers of heavy clothing as protection from the cold weather. Nevertheless, the customer ordered the plaintiff to leave without completing the delivery.

The plaintiff received a letter dated February 6 informing him of his dismissal effective February 1. The plaintiff soon thereafter wrote the Union's executive director requesting assistance. In response, the Union scheduled a grievance committee hearing for February 24.

The plaintiff met with his field representative, John Johnson, several times before the grievance committee hearing to discuss the circumstances surrounding his firing. Johnson attempted with no success to have the plaintiff reinstated before the hearing. Johnson also instructed the plaintiff how to prepare for the hearing -- for example, by securing statements of support from fellow drivers.

When the plaintiff arrived for the grievance committee hearing on February 24, he learned that Johnson was out of town and that another Union representative, Ray Seaman, would represent him. Johnson had anticipated his unavailability and had discussed the plaintiff's claims with Seaman. Seaman conferred briefly with the plaintiff before the hearing.

At the hearing, P.T.O. Services presented evidence to justify the plaintiff's dismissal, including letters from the customer who had refused delivery of the caustic soda and a four-page "work record" summarizing incidents as far back as 1974. P.T.O. Services also offered as evidence a document signed by the plaintiff on January 5, 1976, while he was an employee of K.A. Steel Chemical Company. The document declared that the plaintiff, who had been fired by K.A. Steel, would be reinstated, but if he repeated the behavior for which he was fired, then he would be "irretrievably" terminated. Seaman objected to this evidence as justification for the plaintiff's dismissal.

Seaman and the plaintiff, in addition to challenging P.T.O. Services' evidence, submitted evidence on the plaintiff's behalf, including statements from two drivers to the effect that P.T.O. Services had never specifically required protective apparel.

Union General Counsel William Crawford acted as hearing officer and prepared a report which was submitted to the Union's executive director. The Union and P.T.O. Services jointly determined that the plaintiff's grievance should be denied. After he was notified of the grievance committee's ...


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