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COOL WIND VENTIL. v. SHEET METAL WORKERS

April 16, 2001

COOL WIND VENTILATION CORP., PLAINTIFFS,
V.
SHEET METAL WORKERS INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION, LOCAL UNION NO. 28; JOHN HARRINGTON, PRESIDENT AND BUSINESS MANAGER OF LOCAL 28, SHEET METAL INDUSTRY LABOR MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE, BY ITS ADMINISTRATOR THOMAS DOHERTY; SHEET METAL AND AIR CONDITIONING CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK CITY, INC., SHEET METAL AND AIR CONDITIONING CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION OF LONG ISLAND, INC.; NELSON AIR DEVICE CORP. AND KARO SHEET METAL, INC., DEFENDANTS.



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

    MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This is an case commenced by Plaintiff Cool Wind Ventilation Corp. ("Cool Wind" or "Plaintiff") alleging, primarily, antitrust violations. The named defendants include a labor union, its president and business manager, two multi-employer collective bargaining entities and two individual companies (collectively "Defendants"). Plaintiffs complaint alleges that defendants have entered into a conspiracy to restrain trade and monopolize the market in the sheet metal and duct work industry in the City of New York and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Also alleged are violations of the National Labor Relations Act (the "Labor Act") and state law claims for tortious interference with contract.

Presently before the court are the motions of all Defendants, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to dismiss the Labor Act claims against all defendants other than the Union is granted. The motions are, in all other respects, denied.

BACKGROUND

1 Factual Background

The facts forming the basis of Plaintiff's claims are set forth in the complaint. Taking those allegations in the light most favorable to the non-moving party (Plaintiff), as required in the context of this motion directed to the pleadings, the facts are as follows.

A. The Parties

Cool Wind is a company that is engaged in the business of designing, manufacturing and installing sheet metal duct work used in heating, ventilating and air conditioning ("HVAC") systems. Cool Wind is a union shop; it has a collective bargaining agreement pursuant to which it employs members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union 1205 (the "Teamsters").

Named as defendants here are: (1) the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Local Union No. 28 ("Local 28" or the "Union") and its president and business manager, John Harrington ("Harrington"); (2) the Sheet Metal Industry Labor Management Committee by its Administrator, Thomas Doherty (the "Labor-Management Committee"); (3) the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association of New York City, Inc., a multi-employer bargaining entity responsible for negotiation of collective bargaining agreements between employers in New York City and Local 28 ("SMACNA-NY"); (4) SMACNA-NYs Long Island counterpart, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association of Long Island, Inc. ("SMACNA-LI") (New York and Long Island entities referred to collectively herein as "SMACNA"); (5) Nelson Air Device Corp., a mechanical contractor ("Nelson") and (6) Karo Sheet Metal Corporation, a contractor engaged in the same business as Cool Wind ("Karo").

B. The Business of Cool Wind and the Allegations of the Complaint

Cool Wind manufactures sheet metal duct work through which heated or air conditioned air flows and is ventilated throughout buildings. Cool Wind is sometimes employed directly by general contractors but is more typically employed as a subcontractor to HVAC mechanical contractors working on construction projects.

According to the allegations of the complaint the various Defendants have conspired with each other to restrain trade and monopolize the market for sheet metal duct work in large construction projects in the New York, Nassau and Suffolk areas.

The specific relevant market identified in the complaint is defined as:

the design, manufacture and installation of sheet metal duct work for heating, ventilation and air conditioning applications in commercial buildings in the geographical area of the City of New York and the counties of Nassau and Suffolk, each such job costing more than $150,000.

The factual allegations supporting Plaintiffs claims are contained in a forty-eight page complaint and are highly detailed. The court will not reiterate all facts alleged but will only refer to those necessary to draw a brief description of the conspiracy alleged.

As noted, Cool Wind has a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters. It has no agreement with Local 28. Local 28 is alleged to be the only sheet metal contractor that is associated with the Building Trades Council of New York City (the "Council"). According to Plaintiff, Local 28 takes the position that its membership in the Council renders it the only union that may perform sheet metal work in the City of New York. Because of its membership in the Council, Local 28 is alleged to be able to garner the support of other unions and employers to bar Plaintiffs employees from working on construction projects and to have Plaintiffs workers removed from such projects. Plaintiff supports these allegations with, inter alia, a description of a project at the United Nations Plaza in New York City from which its employees were ousted.

In addition to alleging the existence of agreements between Local 28 and other Council member unions, Plaintiff alleges agreements between direct competitors employing Local 28 workers (such as Defendant Karo) and Local 28, to exclude Cool Wind and other non-Local 28 sheet metal contractors from the relevant market. Plaintiff alleges a factual situation in which a Karo principal is said to have threatened to remove his Local 28 workers from various jobs being performed for a particular mechanical contractor unless that contractor removed Cool Wind from the sole job it was performing for the contractor.

The complaint contains additional factual allegations. For example, defendant SMACNY is asserted to be engaged in the business of inducing employees of nonLocal 28 contractors to leave their jobs in favor of Local 28 contractors. Plaintiff also alleges the use of "target" funds, intended to combat non-union competition, to quell competition with Plaintiff. There are several other factual scenarios discussed in the complaint which the court will not here discuss. Suffice it to say that Plaintiff has tied defendants together, in one way or another, to ...


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