The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEAL McCURN, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
Plaintiff, Paul D. Lazzaro ("Lazzaro"), appearing pro
se,*fn1 commenced this action in Supreme Court for the
State of New York in Onondaga County on September 19, 2002
against Defendants, International Union, United Automobile,
Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW),
Local 1826 ("UAW Local 1826" or "the Union"); Oberdorfer, LLC
("Oberdorfer" or "the Company"), Richard Oppedisano, David
Windhausen, and Neil Falcone. In his complaint ("the Compliant"),
Lazzaro alleges, among other things, the violation of an
agreement between the Union and Oberdorfer. Defendants removed
the action to this court pursuant to section 301(a) of the Labor
Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a), which
provides that federal court has exclusive jurisdiction over such
claims. All parties recently executed a Stipulation of Dismissal,
removing defendants Oberdorfer, Richard Oppedisano, David
Windhausen, and Neil Falcone from the action. Therefore, UAW
Local 1826 is the only remaining defendant.
Presently before the court is a motion for summary judgment by
the Union against Lazzaro.*fn2 In the Complaint, Lazzaro
alleges three causes of action, to wit, breach of contract, breach of the duty of fair representation
("BFR claim"), and conspiracy.
Oral argument was heard regarding the present motion on January
10, 2005 in Syracuse, New York. At that time, upon consent of
counsel, the court dismissed Lazzaro's breach of contract and
conspiracy claims. The court further granted summary judgment on
Lazzaro's BFR claim for failure to exhaust remedies. Following is
the court's reasoning therefor.
Lazzaro has been an employee of Oberdorfer or its predecessors
("the Company") since 1978. During that time he has held several
Union offices, including the office of Chief Committeeman, which
he held for nine years until 2002, at which time he did not seek
reelection. In September 1997 the Company appointed Lazzaro to
the position of "facilitator", which included an increase in his
hourly wage from $13.25 to $19.15. In 1999, when the Company was
purchased by new owners, Lazzaro resumed his former position of
"core finisher", although his hourly rate remained unchanged. At
some point thereafter, Lazzaro's position changed again to that
of "core maker".
According to Lazzaro, in 1999 the Company's new purchasers
promised the Union that under their ownership, no union employee
would be forced to take a pay reduction. That agreement came
about as an oral promise and was never reduced to writing.
In 2002, the Union negotiated a new contract with the Company.
During negotiations, the Company agreed to equalize the wages of
several employees, including Lazzaro, whose hourly rates were not consistent with
the work they performed. As a result of the new contract,
executed by the Union and the Company in July 2002, and ratified
by the Union membership, Lazzaro's pay was reduced from $20.85 to
$12.81 per hour, which is the top hourly rate for a "core maker."
Although at the ratification meeting with the Union membership,
Lazzaro told Union President Richard Oppedisano, "I will see you
in court[,]" Aff. of Paul D. Lazzaro, Dec. 1, 2004, at ¶ 36, Dkt.
No. 44, Lazzaro did not challenge the ratification of the
contract containing the wage equalization agreement before the
Union membership, nor did he undertake any appeal of same to the
UAW under the International Union's constitution ("the Union
Constitution"). According to Lazzaro, no one from the Union ever
told him that he could appeal a negotiated contract settlement to
the International Union. See id. Lazzaro affirms, based upon
his experience as a Union representative, that he understands the
appeals process to be limited to matters surrounding grievance
denials, and that it is not available to challenge settlements
reached as a result of collective bargaining. See id.
On July 30, 2002, Lazzaro filed a grievance with the Company
regarding his reduced wage. The grievance was signed by a Union
steward. The Company thereafter denied the grievance, and on
August 6, 2003, after reviewing same, the Union determined the
grievance was without merit and "dropped" it. Lazzaro could have
appealed the Union's decision to drop his grievance, first to the
membership and then to the International Union, but he did not do
so. Had Lazzaro appealed and prevailed, his grievance could have
been reinstated and arbitrated. III. Discussion
A. Summary Judgment Standard
A motion for summary judgment shall be granted "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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986); Security Ins.
Co. of Hartford v. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., 391 F.3d 77,
82 (2d Cir. 2004). "[I]n assessing the record to determine
whether there is a genuine issue as to a material fact, the court
is required to resolve all ambiguities and draw all permissible
factual inferences in favor of the party against whom summary
judgment is sought[.]" See Security Ins., 391 F.3d at 83,
citing Anderson V. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255,
106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986). While the initial burden of demonstrating
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact falls upon the
moving party, once that burden is met, the non-moving party must
"set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial," see Koch v. Town of Brattleboro, Vermont,
287 F.3d 162, 165 (2d Cir. ...