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7th Circuit holds dispute is a matter for national labor board

April 6, 2012

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held that only the National Labor Relations Board has authority to hear a complaint from employees who brought a hybrid suit against an employer and labor union.

In Beverly K. Copeland, et al. v. Penske Logistics LLC; Penske Logistics, Inc.; and Chauffeurs, Teamsters, Warehousemen and Helpers Local Union Number 135, No. 11-1955, former employees of Penske Logistics filed suit, dissatisfied with the compensation package Penske offered them when it lost its contract with The Indianapolis Star, its only customer. The company provided transportation services for the newspaper. The hybrid suit claimed that Penske failed to provide its employees all the benefits available to them under its contract with The Star. The suit also claimed that the union should be held liable for failing to bargain with Penske in good faith to secure the extra benefits for the employees.

In the 7th Circuit opinion, Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote: “As a hybrid action, it is doomed by the fact that the plaintiffs do not even contend that Penske Logistics failed to implement the collective bargaining agreement.”

The appellate panel also held that the good faith claim is a matter only under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. It affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants in the matter of fair representation. Citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction, it remanded for dismissal of the claim that the union failed to engage in good faith bargaining.  

 

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