The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER*fn1
Michael Skrobacz and twenty-one others have sued:
1. International Harvester Company ("IH") under
Labor Management Relations Act § 301,
29 U.S.C. § 185 ("Section 301") for violations of
a collective bargaining agreement (Count I) and under
Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA")
§ 502(a)(1)(B), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B)
("Section 1132(a)(1)(B)") for failure to pay required
benefits under the employees' retirement plan (the
"Plan") (Count III); and
2. Automobile Mechanics Local No. 701 of the
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
Workers ("Union") for breach of its duty of fair
representation by failing to take plaintiffs'
resulting grievances to arbitration (Count II).
IH and Union now move alternatively (1) for dismissal of the Complaint
under Fed. R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim or (2)
for summary judgment under Rule 56.*fn2 For the reasons stated in this
memorandum opinion and order, summary judgment is granted in favor of IH
on Counts I and III and in favor of Union on Count II.
In September 1982 IH told Union the Melrose ReNew Center ("Center") had
been sold and IH planned to close it October 29. Union and IH
representatives then met to discuss the impact of the Center's closing on
On December 6 Union President Donald Gustafson ("Gustafson") responded
with a letter stating (1) the conclusion plaintiffs' grievance and their
charge against unnamed Union representatives lacked merit, (2) his
reasons for that decision and (3) Union's decision not to pursue the
matter to arbitration. At a December 20 Union meeting to which all former
Center employees were invited, Gustafson and Union Vice President Gordon
Frank explained Union's position on the grievance and actions it took in
the negotiations with IH. Gustafson gave each member at the meeting a
copy of his December 6 letter and a December 8 letter from IH as to sick
leave benefits. On the following day Gustafson mailed those same
materials to each Union member who had not been at the meeting. Union
took no further action on the grievances identified in plaintiffs'
November 26 letters, and plaintiffs did not appeal those decisions.
On January 26, 1983 plaintiffs reasserted their charges under the
Constitution, this time naming four individuals who had assertedly failed
to represent plaintiffs' interests properly in negotiations with IH. On
February 3 Gustafson appointed a Trial Committee to investigate the
matter. On February 16 the Committee recommended the charges be dismissed
as nonmeritorious. On March 2 the Union membership voted to accept the
Committee's recommendation and Gustafson wrote plaintiffs of the decision
to dismiss the charges. Plaintiffs did not appeal that decision as
provided for in Constitution Art. I, § 14.
IH's Manager of Employee Pensions David Clemens ("Clemens") stated (by
affidavit) IH had received letters from plaintiffs dated November 26,
1982 and January 26, 1983 asking information about their pension and
supplemental benefits. On February 23*fn4 Clemens mailed a letter to
plaintiffs' designated counsel, explaining why plaintiffs were not
eligible for some benefits but might be eligible for others. Even though
Clemens included in the letter a copy of the Plan's Claims and Review
Procedure, plaintiffs took no further action in that respect.
Instead plaintiffs filed this action August 16, 1983. Though their
counsel was fully aware of the location of both IH and Union, service was
not effected on either defendant until December 16, 1983. In both
instances that was over 120 days after suit was filed.
IH and Union make the same two arguments against ...