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MCGOVERN v. LOCAL 456

July 26, 2000

KYLE MCGOVERN, LINDA TRENTACOSTE SPAGNUOLO, RICHARD CASHMAN AND WILLIAM MARTIN, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
LOCAL 456, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS AND WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William C. Conner, Senior District Judge.

  OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, Senior Assistant County Attorneys ("Senior ACAs") of Westchester County, bring this action against defendant, Local 456, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO ("Local 456" or the "Union"), pursuant to the United States and New York State Constitutions, and various state and federal labor laws. Defendant has moved for summary judgment, and plaintiff has cross-moved for partial summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, defendant's motion is granted, and plaintiffs' cross motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

I. Statement of Facts

Local 456 is an organization of employees which exists for the purpose of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of employment. (Def.Rule 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 1.)*fn1 Local 456 represents both public sector and private sector employees. (Id. at ¶ 4.) On June 18, 1993, Local 456 was recognized by the County of Westchester (the "County") as the collective bargaining representative for an overall bargaining unit composed of certain administrators, managers and professional employees, below the level of Deputy Commissioner, that were not represented by any other labor organization. (Id. at ¶ 5.) The Senior Assistant County Attorney title was included in the bargaining unit. (Id.)

Local 456 and Westchester County have negotiated three successive collective bargaining agreements which were effective for the two-year periods January 1, 1992 through December 31, 1993, January 1, 1994 through December 31, 1995 and January 1, 1996 through December 31, 2001. (Lucyk Aff. at ¶ 6.) In January 1997, a committee was formed to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement to succeed the agreement that had expired December 31, 1995. (Id.) The committee was composed of Brian Lucyk, an attorney retained by Local 456, Robert Villani, an Assistant County Attorney, Nicholas Longo, shop steward for the Environmental Engineering Department, Betsy Weir from the Personnel Department, Neil Squillanta from the Parks Department, and John Markiewicz from the Westchester County Medical Center. (Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.) The County was represented by Michael Wittenberg, Director of Labor Relations. (Id. at ¶ 7.)

On October 29, 1997, the County and Local 456 reached a Stipulation of Agreement that provided that the County would not seek to have any of the positions or persons in the bargaining unit designated as managerial or confidential. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.) The union members voted and approved the agreement, however, the Westchester County Board of Legislators did not approve it. (Id. at ¶ 10.)

On October 2, 1998, the County and Local 456 resumed negotiations. (Id. at ¶ 11.) At the first session Local 456 sought language in the collective bargaining agreement that would prevent the County from seeking to exclude titles from the bargaining unit. (Id. at ¶ 12.)

At the second negotiation session, the County proposed removing a number of titles from the bargaining unit. (Id. at ¶ 13.) The County wanted to exclude the Senior Assistant County Attorneys, the Assistants to the County Executive I and II, and the Coordinator of Veteran Affairs. Local 456 did not oppose exclusion of the Assistants to the County Executive and the Coordinator of Veteran Affairs. (Id. at ¶ 14.) Local 456 proposed that the Senior ACAs who wanted to remain in the bargaining unit should be allowed to transfer to non-senior ACA positions while retaining their higher wages. (Id. at ¶ 15.)

At the third negotiation session the County agreed to give the Senior ACAs, removed from the bargaining unit, the same percentage wage increases contained in the new collective bargaining agreement. (Id. at ¶ 16.) The parties tentatively agreed that if they were excluded, the Senior ACAs would receive contractual rates and would be allowed to transfer to the position of ACA by December 31, 1999, if they wished to remain in the bargaining unit. (Id. at ¶ 17.)

During subsequent negotiation sessions, the County continued to insist on the exclusion of the Senior ACAs. (Id. at ¶ 19.) Local 456 continued its efforts to retain the Senior ACAs in the bargaining unit. (Id. at ¶ 18.) In April, the County and Local 456 were at a deadlock. Faced with the possibility of an impasse, and the fact that the bargaining unit had not had a wage increase in the three and a half years since the prior agreement expired, the Union decided conditionally to accept the County's offer. (Id. at ¶ 23.)

On June 11, 1999, the County and the Union signed a Stipulation of Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 24.) The agreement provided for raises totaling 16½%; longevity increases of $600; elimination of the Senior ACA title, with a guarantee that Senior ACAs would receive the contractual raises and the ability to transfer to the title of ACA; and an agreement by the County not to seek to have any other persons or positions in the bargaining unit designated managerial or confidential until December 29, 2001. (Id. at ¶ 26.)

On June 14, 1999, the president of Local 456 sent a letter to the members of the bargaining unit, advising that a ratification vote would be taken on June 21, 1999 and including a copy of the Stipulation of Agreement. (Id. at ¶ 27.)

On June 21, 1999, the ratification vote was held. (Id. at ¶ 28.) Additional copies of the agreement were provided and the agreement was read to the membership. (Id. at ¶¶ 28-29.) All of the members' questions were answered. (Id. at ¶ 29.) The Union did not recommend the agreement to the membership and advised the membership that it was taking a neutral position toward the agreement. (Id.) All bargaining unit members were given the opportunity to vote and the membership voted in favor of the agreement. (Id. at ¶ 30.) On July 26, 1999, the Westchester County Board of Legislators ratified the agreement. (Id. at ¶ 31.)

The only request for information that the Union received from plaintiffs was by letter dated July 2, 1999. (Id. at ¶ 32.) The letter requested copies of documents pertaining to the negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement. (Id.) On July 30, 1999, plaintiffs filed a pre-action application in New York State Supreme Court to require the Union to preserve and produce documents pertaining to the negotiation of the agreement reached in 1999. (Id. at ¶ 33.) On January 4, 2000, the court ordered that the documents be preserved. (Id.)

Plaintiffs filed the complaint in this action on October 8, 1999. Upon leave from this Court, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on May 11, 2000.

II. The Amended Complaint

Plaintiffs' first cause of action alleges that they were deprived property rights without due process in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Am. Complt. ¶ 66.) Plaintiffs also bring an equal protection cause of action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the 14th Amendment, alleging disparate treatment between plaintiffs and other members of the bargaining unit. (Id. at ¶¶ 75-76.)

Plaintiffs also bring a cause of action pursuant to New York State law for breach of the duty of fair representation. (Id. at ¶¶ 95-109.) Plaintiffs' other state law claims allege the deprivation of property rights without due process, (id. at ¶ 111); denial of equal protection, (id. at ¶ 114); deprivation of the right to join, form or participate in a labor organization, (id. at ¶ 117); and deprivation of the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, all in violation of the New York State Constitution. (Id. at ¶ 120.) Plaintiffs also allege a deprivation of their right to form, join and participate in any employee organization of their choosing in violation of the New York State Civil Service law. (Id. at ¶ 123.) The parties in this case have cross-moved for summary judgment on all of the claims listed above.

Plaintiffs also bring causes of action pursuant to the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (the "LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. Plaintiffs allege that defendant limited their right to institute an action in any court or administrative agency in violation of § 101(a)(4) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(4). (Am. Complt. ¶ 80.) Plaintiffs further allege that defendant discriminated against them with respect to their voting rights in violation of § 101(a)(1) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1). (Am.Complt. ¶ 83.) Plaintiffs also allege a violation of § 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5), for deprivation of their right to procedural protections prior to expulsion from the collective bargaining unit. (Am.Complt. ¶ 89.) Finally, plaintiffs bring a cause of action for failure to advise plaintiffs of the LMRDA's provisions, pursuant to section 105 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 415. (Am.Complt. ¶¶ 92-93.)

Defendant has moved for summary judgment on all of plaintiffs' claims pursuant to the LMRDA as well as on all of the other claims in plaintiffs' amended complaint, and plaintiffs seek partial summary judgment on their constitutional and state law claims.

DISCUSSION

I. Summary Judgment Standards

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), the 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 judgment as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). "An issue is genuine if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Agritronics Corp. v. National Dairy Herd Ass'n, 914 F. Supp. 814, 820 (N.D.N.Y. 1996). On cross-motions for summary judgment, the standard is the same as that for individual motions. In evaluating each motion, the court must look at the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. See Aviall, Inc. v. Ryder Sys., Inc., 913 F. Supp. 826, 828 (S.D.N.Y. 1996), aff'd, 110 F.3d 892 (2d Cir. 1997). "Simply because the parties have cross-moved, and therefore have implicitly agreed that ...


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