United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO; Midwest Operating Engineers Pension Trust Fund; Local 150 IUOE Vacation Savings Plan; and Construction Industry Research and Service Trust Fund, Plaintiffs,
Landscape Consultants, Inc. d/b/a Phil Robin Landscapes, an Illinois Corporation, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. Tharp, Jr., United States District Judge
plaintiffs brought suit alleging that Landscape Consultants,
Inc., doing business as Phil Robin Landscapes (âPhil Robinâ),
failed to comply with its obligations under a collective
bargaining agreement known as the Landscape Construction
Labor Agreement and predecessor versions of that agreement.
Phil Robin moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that
it never agreed to be bound by the Landscape Construction
Labor Agreement or any version thereof. The plaintiffs have
also moved for partial judgment on the pleadings or summary
judgment, arguing that Phil Robin bound itself to that
agreement by executing monthly remittance reports and
submitting contributions consistent with those required under
the most current version of that agreement. The undisputed
facts show that Phil Robin signed monthly remittance reports
agreeing to be bound by the most current version of the
Landscape Construction Labor Agreement and manifested its
assent to the same through its conduct. Accordingly, the
plaintiffs' motion is granted, and Phil Robin's
motion is denied.
March 23, 1993, Phil Robin, through its president Brian
Rusthoven, signed a Memorandum of Agreement
(“MOA”) with the International Union of Operating
Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO (the “Union”).
Under the MOA, the Union and Phil Robin agreed to
adopt the Master Agreement dated December 1, 1985 as amended
to November 30, 1996, entered into by and between the Union
and the Northern Illinois Landscape Contractors (Illinois and
Indiana Landscape Contractors Labor Agreement) and . . . be
bound by the terms and conditions of that Master Agreement
and the Agreement and Declaration of Trust of Midwest
Operating Engineers Welfare Fund and all amendments
heretofore or hereafter made thereto, as though the same were
incorporated fully herein.
Am. Compl. Ex. B (capitalization and bold formatting
omitted), ECF No. 36-2. The Union and Phil Robin further
agreed that after the expiration of the Master Agreement, the
MOA “shall continue in effect from year to year . . .
and specifically adopt[s] any Master Agreement entered into
between the Union and Northern Illinois Landscape Contractors
subsequent to the expiration date of the Master agreement . .
. unless notice of termination or amendment is given . . .
.” Id. The MOA has not been terminated. But
the Northern Illinois Landscape Contractors no longer signed
the Master Agreement after the 1996-99 edition expired,
leaving the Union and the Illinois Landscape Contractors
Bargaining Association as the only signatories.
collective bargaining agreement that the MOA originally
adopted as the Master Agreement-the Illinois and Indiana
Landscape Contractors Labor Agreement-required Phil Robin to
submit monthly contribution remittance reports and payments
to the Midwest Operating Engineers Pension Trust Fund and the
Midwest Operating Engineers Welfare Fund, as well as monthly
dues remittance reports and dues payments to the Union. In
the 1996-99 edition of that collective bargaining agreement,
the parties substituted the Railroad Maintenance and
Industrial Health and Welfare Fund (“Railroad
Fund”) for the Midwest Operating Engineers Welfare
Fund. The current version of the collective bargaining
agreement-which as of 2005 is known as the Landscape
Construction Labor Agreement-requires the employer to submit
monthly remittance reports and payments to the Railroad Fund
and each of the plaintiffs: the Union, the Midwest Operating
Engineers Pension Trust Fund, the Local 150 IUOE Vacation
Savings Plan, and the Construction Industry Research and
Service Trust Fund.
least 1993 until April 2012, Phil Robin submitted monthly
remittance reports and payments for contributions to all
required parties at the rate listed in the then-current
collective bargaining agreement. For example, Phil Robin
increased its contributions in the amount called for by the
then-current collective bargaining agreement after June 1 of
several years, which was when those increases became
effective. After April 2012, Phil Robin stopped submitting
reports and payments to the plaintiffs. Phil Robin continued,
however, submitting monthly contribution payments and
remittance reports to the Railroad Fund (a non-party) until
at least July 2018. Am. Compl. ¶ 6, Ex. E Landscape
Contribution Remittance Forms, Railroad Fund, ECF Nos. 36,
36-5. The remittance reports Phil Robin si gned and submitted
to the Railroad Fund and other funds contained the following
or substantially similar language:
[T]he employer hereby agrees to be bound by the terms of the
current Collective Bargaining Agreement executed between
Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers
and the Illinois Landscape Contractors' Bargaining
Association or other relevant multi-employer associations.
Further, the undersigned hereby expressly accepts and agrees
to be bound by the terms of the Trust Agreement governing the
Railroad Maintenance and Industrial Health and Welfare Fund
and accepts all of the terms thereof with the intention of
providing benefits to its Operators, thereby being a party to
all of said agreements.
Am. Compl. ¶ 7; Pls.' Statement of Facts ¶ 15,
ECF No. 52-3. The plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Phil
Robin has failed to meet its obligations under the Landscape
Contractors Labor Agreement, executed between the Union and
the Illinois Landscape Contractors' Bargaining
Association, as well as prior versions of that agreement.
Standard of Review
parties have filed cross-motions for judgment on the
pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) on the
question of whether Phil Robin is bound by the Landscape
Contractors Labor Agreement and prior versions of it.
“Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when there
are no disputed issues of material fact and it is clear that
the moving party . . . is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Unite Here Local 1 v. Hyatt Corp., 862
F.3d 588, 595 (7th Cir. 2017). When ruling on a motion for
judgment on the pleadings, the Court is “confined to
the matters presented in the pleadings, and [the Court] must
consider those pleadings in the light most favorable
to” the non-moving party. Id. “If, on a
motion under Rule . . . 12(c), matters outside the pleadings
are presented to and not excluded by the court, the motion
must be treated as one for summary judgment under Rule 56.
All parties must be given a reasonable opportunity to present
all the material that is pertinent to the motion.”
plaintiffs have also moved for partial summary judgment and
submitted evidence outside of the pleadings in support of
their argument that Phil Robin is bound by the Landscape
Construction Labor Agreement and prior versions of it. The
Court must grant the plaintiffs' motion for partial
summary judgment if the plaintiffs show that, construing all
facts and reasonable inferences in Phil Robin's favor, no
reasonable jury could conclude that Phil Robin was not bound
by the most current collective bargaining agreement. See
Daugherty v. Page, 906 F.3d 606, 609- 10 (7th Cir.
2018). The Court allowed Phil Robin 35 days to respond to the
plaintiffs' motion and statement of facts and 21 days to
file a reply in support of its own motion. See
Pls.' Reply, ECF No. 56. Phil Robin did ...