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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today

In ROBERT YEFTICH v. NAVISTAR, INC. (SD Ind., Barker), an 11-page opinion, Judge Sykes ("J. Tinder recused himself and did not participate in the decision of this appeal, which is being resolved by a quorum of the panel") writes:

We review here the dismissal of a complaint filed by a group of unionized workers at a Navistar engine plant in Indianapolis, Indiana. The plaintiffs alleged that they were laid off by Navistar and not rehired as work became available because the company had actually subcontracted their work to nonunion plants in contravention of the governing collective-bargaining agreement. The workers brought this action against Navistar under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) for breach of the collective-bargaining agreement.

A successful section 301 claim requires not only a breach of contract by the employer but also a breach by the plaintiffs’ union of its duty of fair representation. The latter is required because the union is responsible for representing its members’ interests and addressing their complaints pursuant to whatever grievance process is set up by the relevant collective-bargaining agreement. Only when the union fails to carry out that duty may union members pursue section 301 litigation against their employer. To satisfy this requirement, the plaintiffs alleged that they filed grievances challenging Navistar’s subcontracting of work but the union intentionally failed to process the grievances in breach of its duty of fair representation. The district court held that the complaint lacked enough factual content to plead a plausible claim for breach of the duty of fair representation and therefore dismissed the LMRA claim.

We affirm. The complaint identifies the elements of a duty-of-fair-representation claim and contains allegations that each element is satisfied. But we agree with the district court that because the allegations are almost all conclusory, the complaint lacks the necessary factual content to state a plausible claim under section 301 of the LMRA.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 18, 2013 12:03 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions