employees. In the absence of any
evidence of cross-supervision, the evidence that on occasion a MUMS
employee performed work in the Universal returns department or that a
Universal employee performed work at the MUMS manufacturing facility is
not sufficient to show that one exerted significant control over the
other's employees. In sum, there is no basis whatsoever for a reasonable
jury to find that Universal and MUMS or Panasonic were joint employers.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that no reasonable jury
could find that MUMS or Panasonic was bound by the 1996 Universal CBA and
that therefore MUMS and Panasonic are entitled to judgment as a matter of
law. Accordingly, the Court need not reach the additional issues
presented in the motions for summary judgment and will grant MUMS' and
Panasonic's motions for summary judgment (Docs. 62 & 70).
V. The International's Duty of Fair Representation
To recap, the plaintiffs claim that the International has breached its
duty of fair representation by (1) failing to grieve Panasonic's refusal
to abide by the 1996 Universal CBA, (2) recommending to the Local
Executive Board that Behrman be allowed to accept a collective bargaining
agreement with MUMS that was the same as the 1996 Universal CBA except
for some changes to non-economic terms without finding out or telling the
Local Executive Board what those changes would be and (3) executing the
1999 MUMS CBA without disclosing its terms to or seeking ratification
from Local 352.
The International argues that the plaintiffs cannot succeed on their
claims brought under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act
because they cannot prevail in their claims against MUMS or Panasonic, a
prerequisite for prevailing in a suit for the breach of the duty of fair
representation against the International. It also argues that its actions
were not arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith considering the
circumstances in which it found itself and that the plaintiffs suffered
no damage from its actions.
An employee may bring a claim for breach of the duty of fair
representation for a union's conduct in pursuing a grievance or for
negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. See, e.g., Vaca v. Sipes,
386 U.S. 171 (1967) (grievance); Filippo v. Northern Ind. Pub. Serv.
Corp., 141 F.3d 744 (7th Cir. 1998) (grievance); Ford Motor Co. v.
Huffman, 345 U.S. 330 (1953) (contract negotiations); Wegscheid v. Local
Union 2911, United Auto. Workers, 117 F.3d 986 (7th Cir. 1997) (contract
negotiations). A union violates its duty of fair representation when its
conduct was arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith. Air Line Pilots
Ass'n, Int'l v. O'Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 67 (1991); Vaca v. Sipes,
386 U.S. 171, 190 (1967); Filippo, 141 F.3d at 748.
The arbitrariness inquiry is objective. If there is any rational reason
for the union's conduct, it cannot be found to be arbitrary. Filippo, 141
F.3d at 748 (citing O'Neill, 499 U.S. at 67). In the collective
bargaining context, "[a] wide range of reasonableness must be allowed a
statutory bargaining representative in serving the unit it represents,
subject always to complete good faith and honesty of purpose in the
exercise of its discretion." Ford Motor Co. v. Huffman, 345 U.S. 330,
337-38 (1953). These principles hold true even if the end result of the
union's conduct is ultimately unfavorable to an individual employee or
the union as a
whole or favors a majority over a minority of the
bargaining unit members. O'Neill, 499 U.S. at 79; see generally Trnka v.
Local Union No. 688, United Auto Workers, 30 F.3d 60 (7th Cir. 1994);
Dwyer v. Climatrol Indus., Inc., 544 F.2d 307 (7th Cir. 1976). The
union's decisions must be judged based on the circumstances when it made
its decisions, not in hindsight. O'Neill, 499 U.S. at 67.
On the other hand, the bad faith determination requires inquiry into
the subjective motivation behind a union's conduct. Id. at 74-75.
The Court will now address in turn each of the union's alleged breaches
of the duty of fair representation.
A. Failure to Grieve Panasonic's Refusal to Abide by the 1996
The plaintiffs assert that the International should have grieved
Panasonic's refusal (1) to recognize and abide by the 1996 Universal
CBA, (2) to negotiate with the union to modify the 1996 Universal CBA and
(3) to disclose the new terms and conditions it would demand in a new
collective bargaining agreement. They also assert that the International
should have grieved Panasonic's demand for "language changes" to the 1996
Universal CBA and threat to "go non-union." The Court assumes that the
plaintiffs' complaints include the International's decision not to pursue
some plaintiffs' grievances to arbitration, although those issues were
not pled in the complaint.