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UNITED DERRICKMEN AND RIGGERS v. LOCAL NO. 1

September 14, 2000

UNITED DERRICKMEN AND RIGGERS ASSOC. LOCAL UNION NO. 197 OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BRIDGE, STRUCTURAL AND ORNAMENTAL WORKERS, ALF-CIO, PLAINTIFF,
V.
LOCAL NO. 1 BRICKLAYERS AND ALLIED CRAFTSMAN, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Glasser, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

SUMMARY

This action was commenced on September 30, 1998, by the plaintiff, United Derrickmen and Riggers Association, Local Union No. 197 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, AFL-CIO ("Local 197" or "plaintiff") against Local No. 1, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, AFL-CIO ("Local 1" or "defendant") for breach of contract. Specifically, Local 197 alleges that Local 1 has breached the Constitutions of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO ("BCTD") and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York ("BCTC"). Additionally, Local 197 alleges that Local 1 has breached the plans created by the BCTD and the BCTC for the voluntary resolution of union jurisdictional disputes in the construction industry. Plaintiff also alleges two state law claims for tortious interference with prospective business and contractual relations, claims which the defendant argues are preempted by the National Labor Relations Act.

Local 197 moves for partial summary judgment in its favor pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 on the First through Fourth claims for relief alleged in the Complaint, which constitute its breach of contract claims. It seeks to enjoin Local 1 from refusing to honor its contractual obligations and ordering Local 1 to submit to the BCTD and BCTC jurisdictional dispute plans, and to reaffiliate with the BCTC, from which Local 1 withdrew in November 1996. Local 1 has cross moved for summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiffs suit in its entirety.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

I. THE RELEVANT ENTITIES

Plaintiff Local 197 and defendant Local 1 are both unincorporated associations operating as labor organizations in the greater New York Metropolitan area representing employees in the construction industry. Defendant Local 1 is affiliated with the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, AFL-CIO. Plaintiff Local 197 is affiliated with the Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, AFL-CIO.

The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York ("BCTC") is an association of affiliated construction trades unions with craft jurisdiction within the City of New York. The Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL — CIO ("BCTD") is an association of construction trades unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO on a national and international basis.

The BCTD, in conjunction with several multi-employer associations or unionized contractors employing members of the AFL-CIO affiliated construction unions, has designed the "Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes in the Construction Industry" ("the National Plan"). The National Plan provides a procedure for the resolution of jurisdictional disputes between affiliated national and international unions and their local construction unions affiliated with the BCTD.

The BCTC, in conjunction with the Building Trades Employers' Association have designed and administered the "New York Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes" ("the New York Plan"). The New York Plan provides the procedure for the resolution of jurisdictional disputes on a local level between BCTC affiliates. Local 197 is affiliated with the BCTC. Local 1 was affiliated with the BCTC, but withdrew its affiliation in November 1996.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The Industry

The relevant industry involves the setting or installation of stone on buildings and other construction projects in the metropolitan New York area. The work is performed by two groups of construction employees: the setters who are the skilled journeymen or craftworkers responsible for the installation or setting of the stone product ("the Journeymen"), and the support personnel who bring the necessary materials to the proper place and assist the Journeymen in other ways ("Support Persons").

Since the early 1990s, Bricklayers local unions have represented the Journeymen. Local 1 in particular has represented Journeymen since the former stone setters local union was merged into it in 1994. Until 1996, plaintiff Local 197 had generally represented the Support Persons of stone setters in this area.

A similar pattern of journeymen and support personnel characterizes the installation of other masonry products. In each instance a Bricklayers' local union represents the journeymen or craftsmen. In the installation of brick and block, the support personnel are represented by local unions known as Mason Tender locals, affiliated with the Laborers International Union of North America. In the installation of tile, marble, and terrazzo, the support personnel are represented by another local of the Bricklayers International.

B. Local 1's Resignation from the BCTC

According to the defendant, when Local 1 assumed jurisdiction over stone setters in 1994, its officers became aware that stone setters' jobs were in decline. They believed that this was due to plaintiffs representation of the setters' support personnel and felt that Local 197's contractual manning requirements and wage benefit package were excessive.

Local 1 and the Bricklayers International Union concluded that, in order to protect and preserve the work opportunities of Local 1's own stone setter members, the Local established a stone tender classification to serve as support personnel for stone setters. They did so, despite knowing that labor organizations usually respect the prior jurisdiction enjoyed by other unions.

From 1980 to 1993, the Bricklayers' New York local unions were not part of the New York BCTC. In 1993, upon the creation of Local 1 through the merger of the seven pre-existing Bricklayer locals, Local 1 reaffiliated with the BCTC. This comported with the national pattern in which many locals of all building trades Internationals either never joined the Local Councils in their area, or resigned and reaffiliated, often more than once.

The New York BCTC was one of the two local Building and Construction Trades Councils nationally to have established its own Jurisdictional Disputes Plan (the New York Plan) to resolve jurisdictional disputes among its member local unions. Under the practice and precedents of the New York Plan, the only material factor was — and is — which union occupied the "turf" first. Whether that union's actions were imposing unjustified costs upon contractors, is essentially irrelevant. Knowing that an adjudication under the New York Plan was almost certain to result in a ruling against them in any dispute with Local 197 over the support personnel for stone setters, in November 1996, Local 1 withdrew from the BCTC and, therefore, from BCTC's New York Plan. It then commenced recruiting and training stone tenders and signing collective bargaining agreements with stone contractors.

C. The Position of the Parties

In support of its case, Local 197 relies on the BCTD's Constitutional requirements that (a) local unions affiliate with local BCTCs; (b) local unions submit jurisdictional disputes to the National Plan for resolution; and (c) there is a general obligation to adhere to the principles enunciated in the BCTD Constitution to organize tradesmen on "traditional trade or craft lines" and to protect established trade jurisdiction as historically granted and exercised by the BCTD affiliates. Local 197 also relies on the National Plan provision requiring submission in the "first instance" to a local jurisdictional plan of jurisdictional disputes (Exhibit "F" National Plan, Art. VIII, p. 25) as well as the National Plan's requirement that affiliates seek agreement by their employers to submit to the plans (Id. at Art. II, pp. 1415).

Local 197 further relies on the BCTC Constitutional requirement that local unions in the New York area aligned with BCTD affiliate with their local council and that they contain provisions in their collective bargaining agreements that signatory employers agree to submit to the New York Plan. Finally, Local 197 relies on the New York Plan provisions that govern the procedures for submission of disputes, the issuing of awards and the precedential effect of such awards. Additionally, the New York Plan prevents affiliates from entering into any agreements inconsistent with the awards and procedures of the Plan.

In response, Local 1 argues that none of the documents relied upon by the plaintiff give rise to rights which this Court can enforce. It asserts that nothing in the Constitution of the New York BCTC prohibits a member union from resigning its membership and that local unions of the Bricklayers International, and other Internationals as well, have resigned from the BCTC, reaffiliated, and withdrawn again.

Because it withdrew from the BCTC, Local 1 argues it is not subject to the New York Plan, and that nothing in the Plan purports to subject a labor organization that is a non-member of the BCTC to its provisions. At the time of Local 1's resignation, there was no outstanding New York Plan award against it specifically relating to the subject matter of this lawsuit, nor was there any pending complaint against it under the New York Plan.

With respect to the National Plan, Local 1 argues that it may be invoked only by National or International unions, and then only when the contractor whose job assignment is the source of the jurisdictional dispute has stipulated to the National Plan. Local 1's signatory contractors to the stone setter-stone tender agreement have not stipulated to the National Plan, even though the Plan provides that local unions are to secure written assent to the Plan by their signatory employers. Id. at Art. II, Sec. 1(a), pp. 14-15. Therefore, defendant argues, the National Plan is unavailing to resolve the jurisdictional disputes between plaintiff and defendant.

Defendant contends that the proper means to resolve this dispute is through the National Labor Relations Act, which provides a remedy for this type of situation. When a union initiates, or even threatens, economic action in connection with a jurisdictional dispute, an aggrieved party may file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board. The Board must act quickly and will typically seek a Federal Court injunction under Section 10 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 160, within several days. Upon securing that injunctive order, it then schedules a jurisdictional dispute hearing under Section 10(k) of the Act. 29 U.S.C. § 160(k).

According to Local 1, after its stone tenders began serving as support personnel for stone setters, Local 197 threatened economic action on various construction projects where stone tenders were working. The contractors filed unfair labor practice charges and the NLRB obtained injunction orders and scheduled Section 10(k) hearings. Local 197 then withdrew its pickets or threats and agreed not ...


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