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Steelmasters, Inc. v. Local Union 580 of the International Association of Bridge

February 1, 2008

STEELMASTERS, INC. D/B/A CARUSO STEELMASTERS SECURITY PRODUCTS, PETITIONER,
v.
LOCAL UNION 580 OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BRIDGE, STRUCTURAL ORNAMENTAL AND REINFORCING IRON WORKERS, AFL-CIO, AND TRUSTEES OF LOCAL UNION 580 OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BRIDGE, STRUCTURAL ORNAMENTAL AND REINFORCING IRON WORKERS EMPLOYEE BENEFIT FUNDS, RESPONDENTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Go, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Petitioner Steelmasters, Inc. d/b/a Caruso Steelmasters Security Products ("Steelmasters") commenced this action in state court to stay an arbitration proceeding demanded by respondents Local Union 580 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, AFL-CIO ("Local Union 580") and Trustees of Local Union 580 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Employee Benefit Funds ("Trustees"). After respondents removed the action to this Court, the parties consented pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) to having me conduct any and all proceedings in this case, including determining respondents' motion for summary judgment to dismiss the petition.

For the reasons set forth below, respondents' motion is granted in part as discussed herein.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The following facts are undisputed except where otherwise noted. Petitioner Steelmasters is engaged in the manufacture and installation of ornamental iron products. Petition in Support of Motion to Stay Arbitration ("Petition") (ct. doc. 1) at ¶ 1. Matthew Rosio ("Rosio") is the President of Steelmasters. Affidavit of Matthew Rosio dated June 23, 2005 ("Rosio Aff.") (ct. doc. 10) at ¶ 1.

Local Union 580, which represents workers engaged in the Iron Working industry, is an unincorporated labor organization within the meaning of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1001. Petition at ¶ 3; Affidavit of Dennis Lusardi dated May 19, 2005 ("Lusardi Aff.") (ct. doc. 8) at ¶ 3. The terms and conditions of employment of Local Union 580 members are governed by a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") between Local Union 580 and the Allied Building Metal Industries, Inc. (the "Association"), a multi-employer association of companies that employ Local Union 580 members. Lusardi Aff. at ¶¶ 3, 6, Exh. A (CBA). The respondent Trustees administer various trust funds (the "Funds") established by Local Union 580 for the benefit of its members pursuant to various trust agreements with the Association. Lusardi Aff. at ¶¶ 3, 4, Ex. B (Pension Fund Trust Agreement).

On March 3, 1998, Steelmasters employed members of Local Union 580 to perform iron work. Petition at ¶ 7; Lusardi Affidavit at ¶ 6. On that date, Rosio executed on behalf of Steelmasters a one page agreement with Local Union 580 (the "Short Form Agreement") agreeing to be bound by the terms of the CBA and various trust fund agreements involving the union. Lusardi Aff., Exh. C (Short Form Agreement). In the Short Form Agreement, Steelmasters agreed, inter alia, "to be bound by all the terms and conditions as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement between Allied Building Metal Industries, Inc. and the Union and agrees that said agreement is deemed incorporated herein as if it were herein set forth at length."

Id. at § FIRST. Steelmasters also agreed "to pay to the Trustees of the respective Funds amounts negotiated with the Allied Building Metal Industry on behalf of the employees" and to "make available to the Funds for inspection and copy any and all of its records which, in the discretion of the Trustees, may be required to determine the correct amounts due to the respective Funds." Id. at §§ THIRD, FIFTH.

The Short Form Agreement further provided that "[r]esolution of grievances arising under the Agreement or in the Collective Bargaining Agreement shall be resolved under the grievance and arbitration procedures as provided in the Collective Bargaining Agreement." Id. at § SIXTH. The procedures for grievance and arbitration of certain disputes contained in the CBA*fn1 involve a three tier system for handling disputes, the last of which involves arbitration of any unresolved "grievance, complaint, or dispute" before a designated Impartial Arbitrator. Id., Exh. A, §§ XXI(a)-(c).*fn2 Other provisions of the CBA also refer to the arbitration of specific disputes. See, e.g., id., §§ XX(k) and XXIX(f).

The CBA in effect on March 3, 1998 also contained a duration clause, id. § XXXIX, which provides that:

This Agreement, with any amendments thereof made as provided for therein, shall begin July 1, 1996 and remain in full force and effect until midnight of June 30, 1999 and, unless written notice be given by either party to the other at least two (2) months prior to June 30, 1999 of a desire for a change therein or to terminate the same, it shall continue in effect for an additional year thereafter. In the same manner, this Agreement, with any amendments thereof shall remain in effect from year to year thereafter, subject to termination at the expiration of any such contract year upon notice in writing by certified mail/return receipt requested given by either party to the other at least four (4) months prior to the expiration of such contract year. Any such notice as hereinabove provided for in this article, whether specifying a desire to terminate or to change at the end of the current contract year, shall have the effect of terminating this Agreement at such time.

Respondents' Rule 56.1 Statement at ¶ 13; Petitioner's Counter-Statement Pursuant to Rule 56.1 in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment at ¶ 13.

Steelmasters employed Local Union 580 members for six months, from March through September 1998. Rosio Aff. at ¶ 4; Lusardi Aff. at ¶ 6. Rosio avers that on March 10, 1999, he hand-delivered a letter to the Funds' business agent terminating the Short Form Agreement with Local Union 580. Rosio Aff. at ¶ 2; Petition at ¶ 7. Respondents deny having received said notice of termination. Lusardi Aff. at ¶ 8.

Although Steelmasters agrees that it subsequently employed members of Local Union 580 for sixteen weeks for the pay periods ending April 30, 2004 through August 13, 2004, the parties dispute whether Steelmasters employed Local Union 580 workers at other times besides this period and the six month period in 1998. Lusardi Aff. at ¶ 6 and Exh. D (Weekly Remittance Reports); Rosio Aff. at ¶ 4. During the undisputed periods in 1998 and 2004 that Steelmasters employed members of Local Union 580, Steelmasters submitted completed Weekly Remittance Reports ("Remittance Reports") to the Funds indicating the names of the Local Union 580 members employed, the hours worked, wages paid and fringe benefit contributions due and owing to the Funds. Petition at ¶ 7; Lusardi Aff., Exh. D. The pre-printed Remittance Reports ...


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