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Vinco Painting, Inc. v. Painters District Council No. 30

July 19, 2010

VINCO PAINTING, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
PAINTERS DISTRICT COUNCIL NO. 30, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge David H. Coar

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Vinco Painting Inc. ("Vinco" or "Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to Section 301 (a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), seeking to set aside and vacate two arbitration awards entered against Vinco and in favor of the Painters District Council No. 30 (the "Union" or "Defendant"). The Union counterclaims, seeking confirmation and enforcement of the two arbitration awards. Presently before this Court is the Union's motion for summary judgment on Vinco's claim and the Union's counterclaim. For the reasons stated below, the Union's motion is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Vinco is a Chicago-based painting contractor. (Defendant's Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("DSOF") ¶ 4.) Since August 30, 2007, Vinco has been a signatory to the collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs") negotiated by the Finishing Contractors of Illinois, an employer association, and the Painters District Council No. 30 (the "Union"). (Id. ¶¶ 11-12.) Specifically, Vinco has been a party to two consecutive CBAs, one effective May 1, 2004 through April 30, 2008 (the "2004 CBA"), and a second agreement effective May 1, 2008 through April 30, 2013 (the "2008 CBA") (collectively, the "CBAs"). (Id.)The 2008 CBA, which was in place at the time of the arbitration awards in question, requires arbitration of contractual disputes by a panel of employer- and Union-appointed representatives known as the Joint Trade Board (the "JTB"). (Id. ¶ 13.) The eight-member JTB consists of four representatives appointed by the Union and four appointed by the employer association. (Id. ¶ 14.) The 2008 CBA provides for equal voting power between the employer and Union representatives and establishes that all arbitration awards "shall be final and binding." (Id. ¶ 16.) The JTB can fine noncompliant employers up to $2,500 "per violation" and require them to pay the Union's reasonable attorneys' fees and costs incurred while seeking judicial enforcement of a JTB award. (Id. ¶ 17.)

Under the CBAs, the JTB has the right to promulgate binding rules and regulations to govern its operation, and it has enacted such rules and regulations most recently in 2002 and 2008. (Id. ¶¶ 15, 22-23; DSOF Ex. 5 at PDC-94.) Both sets of rules provide that all evidence is admissible, regardless of the Rules of Evidence, and "[i]f a real or apparent conflict of interest between a Member of the JTB and any party to a proceeding arises during the pendency of a complaint, said Member shall disqualify himself or herself from participating in the proceedings." (DSOF Ex. 6- JTB Rules & Regs., rev. 2002; Ex. 7- JTB Rules & Regs., rev. 2008.) While both sets of rules preclude parties from bringing attorneys to their JTB hearings, the 2008 rules clarify that the JTB may have its own counsel present to assist in conducting hearings. (DSOF Ex. 3- Anderson Decl. ¶ 11; Ex. 6- JTB Rules & Regs., rev. 2002; Ex. 7- JTB Rules & Regs., rev. 2008.)

October 2008 JTB Hearing and Award

On December 28, 2007, the Union filed several charges against Vinco, alleging that Vinco violated the 2004 CBA by (a) laying off four employees without providing their final paychecks or compensating them properly for overtime work; (b) failing to provide proper paycheck stubs to two of these employees; and (c) failing to report the hours owed to the Benefit Funds Office. (Id. ¶¶ 18-19.) The JTB found in favor of the Union in January 2008. (Plaintiff's Rule 56.1 Statement of Material Facts ("PSOF") ¶¶ 4-5, 8.) However, when the Union subsequently sought judicial enforcement of the JTB's decision, the Court remanded the charges to the JTB on August 6, 2008 because the Union had failed to provide Vinco with sufficient notice of the January 2008 hearing. (DSOF ¶¶ 19, 21.)

On August 11, 2008, the Union resubmitted the same charges initially filed against Vinco on December 28, 2007. (Id. ¶ 19.) Additionally, on August 27, 2008, the Union brought new charges, alleging that Vinco violated the 2008 CBA by (a) failing to submit monthly reports to the Benefit Fund Office since September 2007; (b) failing to report current job sites to the Union since October 2007; (c) failing to renew its expired certificates of insurance; and (d) failing to have an adequate surety bond in place. (Id. ¶ 25.) In a letter dated August 29, 2008, the Union enclosed copies of the charges filed on August 11 and August 27, notified Vinco that the JTB would arbitrate those charges on October 8, 2008, and instructed Vinco to bring all time card, payroll, and tax records to the arbitration. (Id. ¶¶ 27-28.) The August 29 letter was personally served on Vince Angelilli, Vinco's president and sole shareholder. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 29.)

The JTB convened on October 8, 2008, and both Vince and his wife, Denise, whom Vinco employed to manage its office from August 4, 2006 to 2008, were present. (PSOF ¶ 1; DSOF ¶¶ 9, 30.) Vinco brought its attorney, but pursuant to the JTB's rules and regulations, he was excluded from the hearing. (DSOF Ex. 3- Anderson Decl. ¶ 21; Ex. 6- JTB Rules & Regs., rev. 2002; Ex. 7- JTB Rules & Regs., rev. 2008.) The Union was not represented by counsel at the hearing either. (DSOF ¶ 33.) At the beginning of the hearing, Vinco presented a written motion to disqualify Union Secretary-Treasurer and JTB-member Charles Anderson ("Anderson") because of his alleged bias and "real or apparent conflict of interest" under JTB rules and regulations. (DSOF ¶ 31.) Vinco based its motion on events surrounding the 2008 judicial action to enforce the JTB's initial arbitration decision against Vinco. (DSOF Ex. 12.) Specifically, Vinco's motion claimed that (1) Anderson failed to ensure that Vinco had received notice of the hearing and allowed the hearing to proceed without Vinco present; (2) after entering an award against Vinco in Vinco's absence, Anderson told Vince Angelilli that he could get Vinco back before the JTB if Vinco gave him $50,000, an offer Vinco declined; and (3) Anderson caused an enforcement action to be filed against Vinco, testified against Vinco in that action, and, as the "Union's decision-maker," prevented the Union from paying Vinco the costs ultimately awarded by the Court. (Id. Ex. 12 at 2-3.) The Angelillis were instructed to leave the room while the JTB voted on Vinco's motion to disqualify. (PSOF ¶ 22.) Although Anderson remained in the room, he and his son, JTB-member Aaron Anderson, abstained from the vote. (Id.;DSOF ¶ 31.) When the Angelillis were called back into the room, they were informed that the JTB had unanimously voted to deny Vinco's motion to disqualify. (PSOF ¶ 22; DSOF ¶ 31.) In addition to presenting its motion to disqualify Anderson, Vinco made two requests, both of which were refused: (1) that everyone present at the JTB hearing sign a sign-in sheet; and (2) that the JTB continue the hearing and order the Union to meet with Vinco and furnish all documents and bases for the Union's claims. (PSOF¶¶ 19-20.)

During the hearing, Union representative, James Stelasek, testified that members Loren Deland, William Medina, Jesus Mota, and Jeremy Weise reported to the Union that they had worked at various locations for Vinco but had not received their final paychecks and had not been properly paid for their overtime hours. (DSOF ¶ 34.) To supplement this testimony, the JTB examined written summaries of these members' reports to the Union as well as documents they submitted such as paychecks and check stubs. (Id.; Ex. 13- JTB Mins., Oct. 08, 2008.) Stelasek also testified that, according to records of the Union and Benefit Funds, Vinco had not reported any job sites to the Union since October 2007, had not submitted monthly contribution reports or paid contributions to the Benefit Funds since September 2007, Vinco's insurance certificates had expired, and its surety bond amounted to half of the $20,000 required by the 2008 CBA. (DSOF ¶ 34.) Although the Union claims that the JTB's files and records reflect that Vinco did not present any documentary evidence at the October 2008 hearing, Denise Angelilli testified that Vinco offered copies of paychecks. (DSOF Ex. 29- Denise Angelilli Dep. 33:5-14, Sept. 2, 2009.) Various members of the JTB asked questions during the hearing, though Anderson conducted most of the interrogation of Vinco's representatives, Vince and Denise. (DSOF Ex. 28- Vince Angelilli Dep. 40:6-20, Sept. 2, 2009; Answer to First Amended Compl. ¶ 22.) Denise, who presented Vinco's position on the charges at issue, responded to most of the questions directed at Vinco. (DSOF ¶ 36.) No witnesses other than Denise and Stelmasek testified at the hearing. (Id. ¶ 37.)

After considering all of the evidence presented, the JTB unanimously found Vinco in violation of Article 4, Article 8 Sections 8.7(a) and (b), and Article 9 of the 2004 CBA and ordered Vinco to pay $2,043.58 to Loren Deland, $577.00 to William Medina, $536.83 to Jesus Mota, and a fine of $55,439.25 to the Union. (Id. ¶ 40.) Payments to the individuals, and a portion of the Union fine amounting to $5,439.25, were due within 10 days of notification. (Id.) With respect to the new charges set forth in the August 27, 2008 letter, the JTB ordered the following relief:

Vinco Painting must report all jobs to the District Council for the period of time from August 30, 2007 continuing through the current Collective Bargaining Agreement; provide the District Council with their State of Illinois tax number; bond the company at the appropriate level as required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and submit all delinquent reports, and contributions within the next six days. (DSOF ¶ 41; Ex. 11- JTB Mins., Oct. 9, 2008.) On October 17, 2008, the JTB sent Vinco a copy of its decision, which Vinco later received. (DSOF ¶¶ 43-44.) By December 18, 2008, Vinco had not paid the fines assessed or otherwise complied with the JTB's order. (Id. ¶ 45.)

February 2009 JTB Hearing and Award

On December 18, 2008, in a letter sent from Stelmasek to Anderson, the Union charged Vinco with ongoing violations of the same CBA provisions at issue in the October 2008 hearing. (Id. ¶ 46.) The letter further explained that the charges were a continuation of those initially submitted on August 27, 2008 and that Vinco had failed to comply with any of the JTB decisions on these matters. (Id. ¶ 47.) In a letter dated December 19, 2008, the Union notified Vinco of the charges, enclosed a copy of Stelmasek's letter, and explained that the JTB would hear the charges on January 22, 2009. (Id. ¶ 48.) The Union also instructed Vinco to bring time card, payroll, and tax records to the arbitration. (Id. ¶ 49.) At Vinco's request, the hearing was continued to February 25, 2009. (Id. ¶ 51.)

Prior to the February 2009 hearing, Vinco requested a copy of the JTB rules and regulations, but that request was refused. (PSOF ¶ 27; DSOF Ex. 29- Denise Angelilli Dep. 37:6-38:10, Sept. 2, 2009.) However, Vinco had a copy of the nearly identical 2002 version of the rules, which had been provided to Vinco during the 2008 judicial enforcement action. (DSOF ¶ 22.) On February 25, 2009, the JTB convened, and Vince and Denise Angelilli appeared on behalf of Vinco. (Id. ¶ 54.) Vinco again presented a written motion to disqualify Anderson from the hearing because of his alleged bias and conflict of interest. (Id. ¶ 55.) Again, the Angelillis were instructed to leave the room while the JTB voted on Vinco's motion to disqualify. (PSOF ¶ 30.) Although Anderson remained in the room, he and his son, JTB-member Aaron Anderson, abstained from the vote. (DSOF ¶ 55.) When the Angelillis were called back into the room, Anderson informed them that the JTB had unanimously voted to deny Vinco's motion to disqualify. (PSOF ¶ 31.) Vinco also requested that ...


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