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Jordan v. National Postal Mail Handlers Union

February 15, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dora L. Irizarry, United States District Judge


Plaintiff Doreatha A. Jordan ("Plaintiff") brings this action against defendant National Postal Mail Handlers Union, Local 300 (the "Union") pursuant to the Labor Management Relations Act (the "LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185, alleging that the Union breached its duty of fair representation to Plaintiff. Plaintiff has also named the United States Postal Service (the "USPS"--together with the Union, "Defendants") as a defendant in the instant action "as a necessary party so that the Court can make it, as plaintiff's employer, a party to any judgment relating to plaintiff's employment rights and benefits." (Amended Compl. ¶ 7.)

The Union moved to dismiss pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). By order dated December 10, 2007, the court referred the motion to United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom who issued a Report and Recommendation ("Recommendation"), dated December 28, 2007, recommending dismissal of the instant action.*fn1 Plaintiff submitted timely objections to the Recommendation ("objections"), and the Union submitted a response in opposition to Plaintiff's objections.

For the reasons set forth below, the court adopts Judge Bloom's Recommendation in full, and the Union's motion to dismiss is granted. In addition, Plaintiff's action against the USPS is dismissed.

I. Background

The following relevant facts are taken from Plaintiff's amended complaint. Plaintiff was employed by the USPS as a full-time mail handler from January 1999 through May 2005, and has been, during all periods relevant to the instant dispute, a member in good standing of the Union.

Sometime prior to July 2003, the Union filed grievances on behalf of 148 employees, including Plaintiff, challenging (1) the USPS' abolishment of mail-handler positions and (2) the use of casual employees in other crafts to perform mail-handler work. The matters were submitted to arbitration, and the Union prevailed on both challenges. Subsequently, the USPS entered into two settlement agreements with the Union in order to comply with the arbitration awards.

The first settlement agreement (the "Abolishment Settlement") provided that all affected employees, current and former, would receive compensation and that the USPS was required to restore members to previous jobs and to otherwise make them whole. Under the Abolishment Settlement, the USPS was to make payments to current employees first and then to former employees, including Plaintiff. In Defendant's response to Plaintiff's objections, Defendant states that it has recently learned and informed Plaintiff that she will be awarded $6,007.10 as a part of the Abolishment Settlement, and distribution of this award will likely occur before the end of February 2008. (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Objections 2 n.1.)

The second settlement agreement (the "Cross-Craft Settlement") provided that the USPS would pay lump sums to the Union for distribution. The Union determined that only current employees would receive compensation. Former employees, including Plaintiff, would receive no compensation. Plaintiff alleges that "[m]any of the[] current employees who will be compensated with reference to the 'Cross-Craft' grievance were not even adversely affected by the USPS' actions at the time in question." (Amended Compl. ¶ 34.)

According to Plaintiff, the Union willfully breached its duty of fair representation to her in entering into these settlement agreements. She alleges that she and other former USPS employees were treated less favorably than current USPS employees and, thus, charges the Union with acting arbitrarily, unreasonably, discriminatorily, and in bad faith.

After careful consideration of Plaintiff's allegations with regard to both settlement agreements, Judge Bloom concluded that Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and recommended dismissal of the instant action. Plaintiff has filed timely objections, and Defendant has opposed Plaintiff's objections.

II. Discussion

When reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, a district judge must review de novo those parts of the report and recommendation to which any party objects. See FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b). The district court may then "accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision, receive further evidence, or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b);28 U.S.C. § 636(b); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-76 (1980).

A union's duty of fair representation to its members is implied under the statutory scheme of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. Carrion v. Enter. Ass'n, 227 F.3d 29, 33 (2d Cir. 2000). When a union breaches its duty of fair representation to a union member in a grievance or arbitration proceeding, the Supreme Court has held that an employee may seek recourse by bringing an action against the employer and/or the union. Id. (citing, inter alia, DelCostello v. Int'l Bd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 164 & n.14 (1983)). The resulting action, alleging that the employer breached its collective bargaining agreement ...

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