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February 25, 1993
CENTRAL STATES, SOUTHEAST AND SOUTHWEST AREAS PENSION FUND and HOWARD McDOUGALL, Trustee, Plaintiffs,
REEBIE STORAGE & MOVING CO., INC., Defendant and Third Party Plaintiff, v. LOCAL 705, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, Third Party Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MILTON I. SHADUR
Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Funds and Trustee Howard McDougall (collectively "Pension Fund treated as a singular noun) has brought this ERISA action to collect assertedly unpaid employee benefit contributions from Reebie Storage & Moving Co., Inc. ("Reebie"). In sharp contrast to the short life typically enjoyed (?) by such actions, this one has been agonizingly slow and is not yet even approaching the final disposition stage.
Most recently this Court has dispatched, as a legally nonviable claim, Reebie's effort to file a Third Party Complaint against Local 705 of the Furniture Chauffeurs, Piano Movers, Packers & Handlers Union, IBT ("Local 705"). This opinion deals with Reebie's motion for partial summary judgment against Pension Fund. For the reasons stated here, Reebie loses on that motion as well.
Only a skeletal outline of the facts is required to focus the issues relevant to the current motion. Reebie's obligation to pay contributions for employees in its bargaining unit with Local 705 was created by each collective bargaining agreement ("cba") that those parties entered into (the one now at issue covered the years 1987-90) and by the corresponding Trust Agreements governing the Pension Fund. In each instance the cba was one negotiated by the Movers' Association of Greater Chicago ("Association"), both for its own member companies and for the use of individual employers (such as Reebie) who became parties signatory. Here are the key provisions of the cba and Trust Agreement for purposes of this motion:
Section A. Each Employer shall pay into The Central States, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund the payments hereinafter set forth and in the manner hereinafter set forth.
The payments required hereunder shall be at the following rates:
(a) January 15, 1987 through March 15, 1990--$ 55.00 per week plus additional contributions, if any, to be determined by the trustees of the Central States Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund.
Section B. Payments hereunder shall be made within fifteen (15) days following the end of each calendar month for each work week which has ended during the said calendar month. At the time of transmission of the aforesaid monthly payment, the Employer shall also transmit a list of the employees for whom contributions are being made and the amount of the contribution for each such employee. It is understood, however, that the making of a contribution for any employee does not guarantee his coverage under eligibility for or benefits under the governing Pension Plan, since such matters are governed solely by the terms of the Pension Plan itself.
The payment to the Pension Fund, as provided hereinabove and in the applicable trust agreement, shall not constitute or be deemed wages due the employee. It is understood and agreed that the sole liability of the Employer under this pension program shall be the payments of the contributions to the Pension Fund hereinabove set forth and as provided in Article 5, Section B.
The Association shall take such action on behalf of itself and the Employer as may be required under the terms of the governing Pension Trust Agreement and applicable laws in order to implement the terms of this Article. The Union shall submit to the Association the information on contributions to the Fund by Employers covered by this Agreement.
Section B. In the event that the Union enters into any separate contract which shall contain any provisions more favorable to the Employer than the corresponding provision of this Agreement then such provision shall automatically be substituted for the corresponding provision of this Agreement and become a part hereof. The Union shall supply the Association with a signed copy of any such contract which grants more favorable terms to the Employer involved within twenty-four (24) hours of its execution; and if any question arises as to whether the provisions of any separate agreement are more favorable to ...
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