The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA
Before the court are plaintiffs' motion to remand their action to the Circuit Court of Cook County pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) and defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, the court grants plaintiffs' motion to remand and denies defendants' motion to dismiss.
Plaintiff Buckeridge Door Company, Inc. ("Buckeridge"), installs and services residential and commercial garage doors. In April 1987, Buckeridge signed a form of a collective bargaining agreement known as a "pre-hire" agreement, or 8(f) agreement, with the Chicago and Northeast Illinois District Council of Carpenters ("Union"). On February 24, 1995, the Union terminated its 8(f) agreement with Buckeridge, effective midnight May 31, 1995. The Union then extended the effective date one month to midnight June 30, 1995.
After the 8(f) agreement expired, Buckeridge and the Union continued to negotiate for a new agreement. On November 8, 1995, the Union informed Buckeridge that the Union would assume that Buckeridge was not interested in signing a new agreement with the Union unless Buckeridge returned an executed collective bargaining agreement by December 1, 1995. Buckeridge did not do so. On February 21, 1996, Buckeridge made a final offer for a new agreement with the Union, stating that the offer remained open until March 1, 1996. The Union did not accept the offer. On March 7, 1996, the Union told its members that it did not have an agreement with Buckeridge and that it would strike Buckeridge for a contract. The Union then picketed Buckeridge daily until April 19, 1996.
On April 3, 1996, Buckeridge filed a complaint against the Union in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The complaint alleges that beginning in March 1996, the Union picketed at private residences and distributed leaflets containing false and disparaging information about Buckeridge's quality of work to residential customers of Buckeridge. The complaint also alleges that Union members attempted to bar Buckeridge employees' access to work, followed Buckeridge employees to their job sites and homes, and harassed and intimidated the employees.
Count I of the complaint asks for injunctive relief from the Union's distribution of the leaflets, picketing, and harassment of Buckeridge employees. Count II alleges that the Union violated the Illinois Deceptive Trade Practices Act, 815 ILCS 510/1 - 510/7, by making disparaging and false statements about Buckeridge. Count III alleges that the Union defamed Buckeridge and its owner by knowingly distributing false information about Buckeridge and its owner. Count IV alleges that the Union invaded the privacy of Buckeridge and its owner by placing them in a false light. Count V alleges that the Union violated the Illinois Residential Picketing Act, 720 ILCS 5/21.1-2, by picketing at the residences of Buckeridge's customers.
Plaintiffs have moved to remand the case to the state court where they originally filed it. Defendants, in turn, have moved to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint on the basis that this court has no subject matter jurisdiction over the action, which falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
A. Plaintiffs' motion to remand
"Only state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court may be removed to federal court by the defendant." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S. Ct. 2425, 2429, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318 (1987). Consequently, a federal court will remand a case to the state court from which it was removed if there was a defect in the removal, such as a lack of subject matter jurisdiction in the federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Plaintiffs argue that there was such a defect in the removal of their case from the Circuit Court of Cook County. They contend that they have alleged only state law claims that have nothing to do with a collective bargaining agreement, and therefore that their case does not belong in federal court; that is, this court has no subject matter jurisdiction over their cause of action.
Section 301(a) of the LMRA bestows on the federal courts original jurisdiction over all causes of action based on violations of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees. 29 U.S.C. § 185(a). Thus, section 301(a) preempts "any state cause of action 'for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization.'" Franchise Tax Board of Cal. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust ...