for "substantial authority . . . to the effect that individual defendants may be subject to liability for violations of union constitutions . . .," and agreed with those cases "to the extent that [they] deal with equitable relief . . . ." Id.
Shea did not decide, nor did it address, the issue presented in this case--i.e., whether § 301(a) provides subject matter jurisdiction over a suit by a local union against an individual member of another local to enforce a monetary fine imposed based on the local's determination that the member violated the union constitution and by-laws. In fact, none of the cases cited by the parties have directly decided or addressed this issue.
Plaintiff relies on National Ass'n of Basketball Referees v. Middleton, 688 F. Supp. 131 (S.D.N.Y. 1988), and Mayes v. Local 106, International Union of Operating Engineers, 739 F. Supp. 744 (N.D.N.Y. 1990), both cited in Shea, as authority for § 301 jurisdiction over contract actions brought by unions against individual union members. Basketball Referees involved a suit by the union to collect unpaid special assessments levied against all union members following a referendum of the entire union membership. Three union members refused to pay the assessments. When the union sued them in federal court, they raised the defense of lack of subject matter jurisdiction under § 301(a) based on the union's failure to pursue internal union procedures. 688 F. Supp. at 132-33.
The court rejected this defense. Noting that the case presented the "uncommon situation where a plaintiff union has brought a suit against defendant union members under § 301(a)," the court found that the alignment of the parties was not determinative of whether jurisdiction exists under the statute. 688 F. Supp. at 134. According to the court, "because . . . § 301(a) creates federal jurisdiction when a union member sues his or her union for breach of the union's constitution, it follows that § 301(a) jurisdiction exists" in a suit by the union against individual union members. Id. at 135.
However, in its discussion pertaining to exhaustion of internal union remedies, the Basketball Referees court carefully pointed out that there is a notable distinction between a claim involving an effort to enforce a special assessment levied upon all members following a vote of the entire union membership in accordance with a specific provision of the union constitution, and a claim stemming from "charges" filed against an individual union member as a result of the union member's alleged failure to perform a duty imposed by the constitution. Id. at 135-36. The court examined the internal remedies claimed by defendants to have been unexhausted-- i.e., defense to the charge, review of the defense, and appeal of the review--and found that these remedies did not apply to the "special assessment" situation presented. Id. at 136. According to the court, even if the union was required to pursue internal remedies prior to bringing suit under § 301, the union constitution did not provide any procedures that would have remedied the dispute. Basketball Referees was thus based in substantial part on the "exhaustion of remedies" doctrine, an issue not addressed or argued by the parties in this case despite ample opportunity to do so.
The complaint in this case involves not only a fine assessed as a result of a "charge" against an individual union member, but it also involves the local's attempt to collect the fine by suing in federal court without first pursuing the remedies for "Payment of Fines" set forth at Art. XXIV, Subdiv. 7, Section (f) of the union constitution (see Item 1, Ex. B). The Basketball Referees holding, therefore, does not provide convincing authority for finding subject matter jurisdiction under § 301(a) in this case.
Mayes v. Local 106, International Union of Operating Engineers is likewise not directly controlling. In Mayes, the plaintiff sued his local union and individual union officials for discrimination and denial of rights under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"). The defendants filed counterclaims alleging that the action was brought in bad faith, thereby violating the obligations imposed by the union constitution and the collective bargaining agreement "to promote harmony among Union members" and to avoid dissension or interference with union activities. 739 F. Supp. at 747 & n. 2. The defendants claimed that the union suffered damages as a result of having to defend against these "baseless charges." Id. at 745. Mayes therefore did not involve the type of damages alleged in the present case, admittedly contractual in nature. This distinction was recognized as well by the Second Circuit in Shea when it relied on Mayes and Basketball Referees only "to the extent that these cases deal with equitable relief . . . ." Shea v. McCarthy, supra, 953 F.2d at 32.
Defendant relies on the Ninth Circuit's holding in Building Material & Dump Truck Drivers, Local 420 v. Traweek, 867 F.2d 500 (9th Cir. 1989), which involved a suit brought under § 301 by a local union seeking recovery of approximately $ 50,000.00 from former officers of the local who had authorized the use of union funds to pay another union official's legal fees. The Ninth Circuit declined to exercise subject matter jurisdiction over the claim, finding that it was the intent of Congress, in enacting § 301, to shield individual union members from liability for damages. The court focused on the Supreme Court's analysis in Journeymen and Reis, and found no case in which an individual union member has been held to be a proper defendant under § 301(a). According to the court:
Not every violation of a . . . union constitution results in federal court jurisdiction. If we were to expand the jurisdictional scope of §  in the manner advocated by [the local], then a union could sue an individual union member in federal court for any failure to comply with by-laws or the constitution. Thus, any time a union member failed to pay dues or committed a minor infraction of union rules, the federal courts would provide a forum in which to demand payment or to settle internal squabbles. . . . Clearly this possibility does not comport with the congressional intent behind § .
867 F.2d at 508 (citations omitted).
Even closer to the issue presented in this case are Baltimore Mailers Union No. 888 v. Moore, 881 F. Supp. 217 (D.Md. 1995), and United Food & Commercial Workers Local 951 v. Mulder, 812 F. Supp. 754 (W.D.Mich. 1993), aff'd, 31 F.3d 365 (6th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, U.S. , 115 S. Ct. 1095 (1995), both of which are post-Wooddell cases dealing with a local union's attempt to collect money from individual union members under the union constitution or collective bargaining agreement. In Baltimore Mailers, the local sued in state small claims court to collect back dues from six of its members. The defendants removed the cases to federal court under § 301, relying on Wooddell. The court remanded the cases to the state court, stating that: "Wooddell. . . only goes down a one-way street. That is, it was uniformly held before Wooddell was decided that Section 301 does not confer federal jurisdiction over suits seeking contract damages against an individual member for breach of, e.g., a union constitution. The same result has been reached post-Wooddell." 881 F. Supp. at 218 (citing Shea v. McCarthy, supra, and Building Material & Dump Truck Drivers, supra, 867 F.2d at 508).
In United Food & Commercial Workers, the local sued three members of the collective bargaining unit who had resigned from the union and had objected to the payment of service fees. The local referred the objections to an arbitrator under its internal mechanism for resolving fee disputes, and the arbitrator ruled in the local's favor. When the local sued in federal court to enforce the arbitrator's award, the district court declined to exercise § 301 subject matter jurisdiction over the case, citing Complete Auto Transit, Inc. v. Reis, supra, and Building Material & Dump Truck Drivers, supra. According to the court, an action by a union to enforce a monetary award against individual employees is adversarial in nature and therefore is not subject to § 301 jurisdiction. 812 F.2d at 757.
Finally, as already mentioned, plaintiff has not cited any cases in which the federal court has allowed a suit to enforce an award against an individual union member rendered pursuant to internal union procedures, a practice routinely allowed in state courts of competent jurisdiction. See, e.g., Local 327, IUE v. Proper, 154 Misc. 2d 285, 584 N.Y.S.2d 977 (Sup. Columbia Co. 1991); Ballas v. McKiernan, 63 Misc. 2d 432, 312 N.Y.S.2d 204 (N.Y.Civ.Ct. 1970); see also cases cited at 13 A.L.R.3d 1000-06.
Accordingly, I find that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case, and that dismissal of the action is required pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).
See Alliance of American Insurers v. Cuomo, 854 F.2d 591, 605 (2d Cir. 1988).
Based on the foregoing, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Item 5) is denied and the case is ORDERED dismissed without prejudice, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h).
DATED: Buffalo, New York
August 18, 1995
CAROL E. HECKMAN
United States Magistrate Judge