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Damen v. Daimler-Chrysler Corp.

August 31, 2007

CARLA DAMEN, PILAR FEKETE, JASON GUSTAFSON, DAKNEELYA HARTY AND KATY HUNGNESS, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL OTHER PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DAIMLER-CHRYSLER CORPORATION, INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, AND LOCAL 1268, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wayne R. Andersen District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This case is before the court on the motion of defendants Daimler-Chrysler Corporation, International Union, United Auto Workers ("UAW"), and Local 1268, United Auto Workers ("Local 1268") to dismiss the complaint of plaintiffs Carla Damen, Pilar Fekete, Jason Gustafson, Dakneelya Harty, and Katy Hungness for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs are Illinois residents who are current and former employees of Daimler-Chrysler working at its plant in Belvidere, Illinois, as well as current and former members of UAW and Local 1268. Defendants UAW and Local 1268 are labor unions that represent Daimler-Chrysler employees at the Belvidere plant. Employees at the Belvidere plant are covered by the collective bargaining agreement between Daimler-Chrysler and UAW dated September 29, 2003 ("CBA"). On May 2, 2006, Daimler-Chrysler, International Union, and UAW entered into a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU"), amending certain provisions of the CBA to authorize the use of a temporary workforce to staff a new third shift at the Belvidere plant.

Earlier in 2006, Daimler-Chrysler announced publicly that the Belvidere plant would start hiring employees for a new third shift. Plaintiffs claim that Daimler-Chrysler received $30 million in tax credits and grants from the State of Illinois to create hundreds of new third shift positions at the Belvidere plant. Daimler-Chrysler used its website to advertise the new jobs and to accept employment applications, hiring an outside agency, Aon Services, to conduct the screening process. Plaintiffs applied for the third shift positions through the Daimler-Chrysler website and passed the screening process. They were told to report for their first day of orientation. In preparation, they resigned from their former jobs.

On June 18, 2006, plaintiffs arrived for their first day of orientation and were presented with an Enhanced Temporary Employment Agreement ("ETEA") which outlined the terms of their employment, informing them of their wages and benefits and that employment was anticipated to be for a period of up to two years. Additionally, plaintiffs were asked to acknowledge that "this employment opportunity in no way constitutes a permanent full time job offer as outlined in the [CBA]" and that they would not acquire seniority, unemployment security system benefits, supplemental unemployment benefits, retirement entitlements, or recall or transfer rights. The ETEA further stated that the agreement itself, the conditional offer letter, an attached five page exhibit titled "Summary of Total Compensation: UAW - Enhanced Temporary Employees, Belvidere Assembly Plant," and the CBA constituted the complete understanding between the parties. The parties do not dispute that each of the plaintiffs signed the ETEA.

The Summary of Total Compensation accompanying the ETEA defined an enhanced temporary employee as an employee hired on or after June 12, 2006 in support of the additional shift at the Belvidere Assembly Plant. Employees were informed that they were not eligible for or covered by any other compensation or benefit under any plan or program that was not expressly set forth in the document.

Plaintiffs allege that they were unaware that they were applying for temporary employment. They claim that Daimler-Chrysler's website and media publicity led them to believe they were applying for permanent employment under the same terms and conditions as other Daimler-Chrysler Belvidere employees. They further allege that Daimler-Chrysler represented to the State of Illinois that the new jobs were permanent jobs in order to obtain the Illinois tax credits and grants. Plaintiffs claim that not until they had given up their previous jobs and reported for their first day of work did they learn that their new jobs were temporary.

Plaintiffs filed this four count complaint, seeking compensatory and punitive relief against defendants. Count I alleges a breach of the CBA by Daimler-Chrysler in violation of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) ("Section 301"). Count II alleges a violation of the duty of fair representation by the UAW and Local 1268 pursuant to Section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 159 ("Section 9"). Counts III and IV allege fraud and promissory estoppel.

DISCUSSION

In reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(6), the court does not consider how likely plaintiffs are to succeed, but whether they are entitled to offer evidence to support their claims. Triad Assocs v. Chicago Hous. Auth., 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989). It is well established that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief. Redfield v. Continental Casualty Corp., 818 F.2d 596, 605 (7th Cir. 1987). The court must accept all factual allegations made in the complaint as true and construe reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Rueth v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 13 F.3d 227, 229 (7th Cir. 1993).

The standard for resolving a motion for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under FED.R.CIV.P. 12(b)(1) differs from a motion to dismiss only in that the court is not limited to the jurisdictional contentions asserted in the complaint, but may consider other evidence submitted to determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists. Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995).

In this case, plaintiffs essentially have two arguments. Firstly, they claim that Daimler-Chrysler fraudulently tricked them into applying for temporary employment and deprived them of permanent jobs. Secondly, they claim that Daimler-Chrysler, UAW and Local 1268 breached their rights under the CBA by amending it and creating the MOU and the ETEA. We will examine the plaintiffs' claims in the order they are presented in their complaint.

A. Count I: Breach of the CBA under the Labor Management Relations Act In Count I, plaintiffs claim that Daimler-Chrysler breached the CBA in violation of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 ...


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