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Eskew v. International Association of MacHinists and Aerospace Workers

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 17, 2014

RUFUS ESKEW, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, et al., Defendants

Page 868

For Rufus eskew, Plaintiff: Margherita Maria Albarello, DiMonte & Lizak, Park Ridge, IL.

For International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Philip J Gruber, Defendants: Barry M Bennett, LEAD ATTORNEY, George A. Luscombe, III, Dowd, Bloch & Bennett, Chicago, IL.

For District 8 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Defendant: Martin Phillip Barr, LEAD ATTORNEY, William A. Widmer, III, Carmell Charone Widmer Moss & Barr, Chicago, IL.

Page 869

ORDER

John J. Tharp, Jr., United States District Judge.

For the reasons stated below, the defendants' motions to dismiss [12, 15] are granted. The claims in Court I and II are dismissed without prejudice, and the state-law claim in Count III is dismissed with prejudice. This matter is terminated.

STATEMENT

Plaintiff Rufus Eskew alleges that he was wrongfully terminated from his employment as a Business Representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 8 and the parent organization, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (" IAM" ). The defendants, who also include the union official who ordered the termination, have moved to dismiss Eskew's claims; for purposes of the motions, the following factual allegations from the complaint are taken as true. Yeftich v. Navistar, Inc., 722 F.3d 911, 915 (7th Cir. 2013).

I. Facts

District Lodge 8's territory comprises Cook County, Illinois; it is part of the Midwest Territory, whose General Vice President is Defendant Philip J. Gruber. While he was Business Representative, Eskew reported to Carl Gallman, then the Directing Business Representative, who was subsequently replaced by Steve Jones. Jones and Gallman reported directly to Gruber.

Eskew was not just an employee of the union but also a member; he had been a member in good standing of Local Lodge 49 since 1969. Eskew was elected by the rank-and-file members of the local lodges of District Lodge 8 to be their Business Representative in December 2011. Throughout Eskew's tenure as the elected representative, Gruber and his chiefs of staff, Roger Nauyalis and, later, Rod Hoffman, had it in for Eskew. They each told Gallman to " get rid of" Eskew as Business Representative, although there was no " justifiable basis" for terminating Eskew.

Under the terms of the District 8 Lodge Bylaws, Eskew was elected to a four-year term in office at the salary set forth in the IAM Constitution along with a number of fringe benefits. Eskew also had a Dell laptop computer that was provided by District 8 Lodge for union business; Eskew used the computer in his office at District 8 headquarters, which had no lock. When the Dell laptop malfunctioned, Eskew was given a Hewlett Packard (" HP" ) laptop to use; it came from the Grand Lodge and had been used by others, including the Secretary / Treasurer of District Lodge 8, Larry Walsh.

On December 3, 2012, Eskew was called into a meeting with Steve Jones and Gary Steuessel (the Assistant Directing Business Representative) and fired, effective immediately. Eskew was told that pornography was found on the HP laptop and that Gruber had ordered Eskew's termination. Eskew denied accessing pornography on the laptop, but he was nevertheless ...


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