The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leisure, District Judge.
Plaintiff Michael Beckman brings this "hybrid" action, pursuant
to section 1208(b) of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970
("PRA"), 39 U.S.C. § 1208(b), alleging that (1) his employer,
defendant United States Postal Service (the "USPS"),
impermissibly transferred him from a duty assignment in violation
of an existing collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"), and (2)
his collective bargaining representative, defendant American
Postal Workers Union — New York Metro Area Postal Union (the
"Union"), breached its duty of fair representation, implied under
the scheme of the National Labor Relations Act,
29 U.S.C. § 159(a), by failing to represent him fairly in redressing his
grievance.*fn1 Both defendants have moved for summary judgment.
For the following reasons, defendants' motions are hereby
The USPS employs individuals in craft and non-craft positions.
See Pendleton Decl. ¶ 2. All craft positions, including mail
handler, clerk, and material handler, are unionized, see
Beckman Aff. ¶ 3 n. 1; Lingberg Decl. ¶ 8, while non-craft
positions are generally supervisory or management jobs at higher
grade levels, see Pendleton Decl. ¶ 2; Lingberg Decl. ¶ 9. At
the New Jersey International Bulk Mail Center (the "Bulk
Center"),*fn3 where plaintiff was employed prior to the actions
that led to this litigation, employees in maintenance craft
positions work one of three shifts: Tour 1 (12:00 a.m. to 8:30
a.m.), Tour 2 (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), or Tour 3 (4:00 p.m. to
12:30 a.m.). See Beckman Dep. at 11. These employees are
selected for duty assignments based upon their seniority, as
calculated under the relevant collective bargaining
agreement. See CBA Between Union and USPS ("CBA"), art. 38, §
5.A.3 (Pendleton Decl., Exh. G). Pursuant to the CBA, all vacant
or newly-established duty assignments in the maintenance craft
are to be filled by the most senior employees. See id.
Plaintiff has been an employee of the USPS since March 1975.
See Beckman Aff. ¶ 3. For over nine years, he worked as mail
handler in the Bulk Center. See id. He later served as a clerk
for the USPS in Bayonne, New Jersey, and subsequently, from 1989
to 1991, as a material handler at the Bulk Center. See id. At
all relevant times throughout his tenure in these positions,
plaintiff was a member of the Union. See id.
On March 26, 1991, the USPS promoted plaintiff to the position
of Supervisor of Building Services. See id. As a supervisor,
Beckman was no longer a member of the Union and hence no longer
subject to the terms of the Union's collective bargaining
agreement with the USPS. See id.; see also Lingberg Decl. ¶ 9.
Furthermore, by accepting the promotion, plaintiff switched from
a craft position to a non-craft position. See Beckman Aff. ¶ 3;
Lingberg Decl. ¶ 9. Under article 12 of the CBA, an employee who
leaves a craft position for a non-craft position will lose all
accrued seniority if he later returns to a craft position within
the USPS, unless the employee returns within two years from the
date he left the craft position. See CBA art. 12, § 2.B.2.
Plaintiff served as Supervisor of Building Services for two
years. Unfortunately for plaintiff, however, in March 1993, the
USPS underwent a restructuring, and plaintiff was informed that
his new position was being eliminated. See Beckman Aff. ¶ 4.
Under a program entitled "Return to Craft Incentive," plaintiff
was afforded the opportunity to resume the position he held prior
to becoming a supervisor. See id.*fn4 On May 6, 1993, and
again on June 28, 1993, plaintiff formally requested assignment
to the maintenance craft position of material handler at the Bulk
Center — the same job he held from 1989 to 1991. See Beckman
Dep. at 24-27; Pendleton Decl., Exh. H. The USPS evidently
offered plaintiff the grade level 4 position, which had an annual
salary of $33,398, plus a lump sum incentive payment of $7,136
for accepting the reassignment. See Pendleton Decl., Exh. I. On
July 9, 1993, plaintiff accepted the USPS's offer, and the next
day left his supervisory position for his old material handler
job at the Bulk Center. See id.; Beckman Dep. at 41. In
connection with his return to the material handler position,
plaintiff submitted a "Maintenance Preferred Assignment Sheet"
indicating his preference for various duty assignments. See
Beckman Aff. ¶ 5; Pendleton Decl., Exh. K. Plaintiff was
initially slotted in duty assignment number 131 ("Assignment
131"), which denotes a Tour 2 (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) material
handler work shift at the Bulk Center, with Mondays and Tuesdays
off. See Beckman Aff. ¶ 6; Beckman Dep. at 38-39.
Shortly after plaintiff received this assignment, however, two
of his bargaining unit cohorts approached their Union
Representative, Ronald Massey, and complained that plaintiff
should not have been awarded Assignment 131 ahead of them, as
they were on the relevant Promotion Eligibility Register
("PER")*fn5 for a material handler position, and both had more
maintenance craft seniority than plaintiff. See Massey Dep. at
29-30. Other bargaining unit members complained directly to USPS
management. See Galbo Dep. at 38-40; Johnson Dep. at 36-40.
Later, a union representative informed USPS management that
plaintiff had improperly received his assignment due to the fact
that he had lost his seniority as a consequence of his two year
absence from the maintenance craft, and because there were
maintenance craft employees on the relevant PER who should have
been selected over plaintiff. See Massey Dep. at 34-36.
After reviewing the situation, on December 10, 1993, USPS
management removed plaintiff from Assignment 131, designated him
an unassigned material handler, and subsequently replaced him
with John Valez-Elias. See id. at 47-48; Beckman Aff. ¶¶ 11,
14; Pendleton Decl., Exh. L. During the time he was unassigned,
plaintiff retained the Assignment 131 work shift. See Pendleton
Decl. ¶ 9. Plaintiff was directed to submit bids for other duty
assignments, but failed to do so. See id. ¶ 9-10. As a result,
as it was permitted to do under CBA art. 38, § 5.A.8, the USPS
gave plaintiff the only vacant material handler duty assignment
at the Bulk Center, a Tour 1 (12:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.) work
shift. See id.*fn6
Plaintiff immediately complained to his Union Representative,
Ronald Massey. See Beckman Aff. ¶ 12; Massey Dep. at 54-55.
Thereafter, Massey referred plaintiff to Brenda Jackson, the Shop
Steward, who helped him file a formal grievance. See Beckman
Aff. ¶ 12. At each of the preliminary stages, plaintiff's
grievance was denied, but was eventually certified for
arbitration. See id. The hearing was scheduled for December 12,
1995. See Beckman Aff. ¶ 13.
Yet, to plaintiff's chagrin, the Union elected to withdraw the
grievance prior to the date of the arbitration hearing. Massey
explained that the Union's decision was based on its evaluation
of the merits of the case and its conclusion that plaintiff would
be unable to prevail, given the provision in the CBA that
eliminated his seniority. See Massey Dep. at 72-73; Beckman
Aff., Exh. H. Plaintiff appeared before the arbitrator on
December 12, 1995, but was allegedly informed at that point by
another Union Representative, Charles Bembry, that the grievance
had been withdrawn due to a "conflict of interest." Beckman Aff.
Although the USPS initially permitted plaintiff to continue
working on Tour 2, even after his grievance had been withdrawn,
see Beckman Dep. at 69; Massey Dep. at 106, 117-18, plaintiff
was eventually switched to the Tour 1 night shift in April 1996.
Plaintiff asserts that the shift switch has caused him
substantial mental anguish and distress, including depression and
other physical symptoms. See Beckman Aff. ¶ 15 & Exh. I. On May
1, 1996, plaintiff initiated the instant action. Plaintiff served
an Amended Complaint on June 10, 1996, alleging a "hybrid" cause
of action against the USPS and the Union. See Am. Compl. ¶¶
9-16. Following the close of discovery, both defendants moved for
I. Standard for Summary Judgment
A moving party is entitled to summary judgment if "the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show
that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Holt v.
KMI-Continental, Inc., 95 F.3d 123, 128 (2d Cir. 1996). The
moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine
issue of material fact exists. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co.,
398 U.S. 144, 157, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); Gallo
v. Prudential Residential Servs. L.P., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-24 (2d
Cir. 1994). "In moving for summary judgment against a party who
will bear the ultimate burden of proof at trial, the ...