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Infinity Glass and Restoration, LLC v. Laborers' International Union of North America

June 19, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge



This case arises from a dispute over Plaintiff Infinity's hiring of members of the carpenter's union ("Carpenters" or "Local 289") to perform tasks that had been assigned to Defendant Laborers Union ("Laborers" or "Local 210") in connection with Infinity's contract for window work at Buffalo Public School #206, South Park High School.

Infinity and the Laborers are parties to a project labor agreement, the "Joint Schools Construction Board School Construction and Rehabilitation Program, Workforce Development and Diversity Program Agreement" ("PLA")*fn1 , which governs the assignment of work and the resolution of disputes arising in connection with new construction and renovation work at various Buffalo Schools, including School #206. (Docket No. 1, ¶ 7, Ex. A.) Local 210 forwarded to Infinity a grievance alleging violations of the PLA, and subsequently served a Notice to Arbitrate. This action followed, in which Infinity seeks an order permanently enjoining the Laborers from arbitrating its dispute under Article IX of the PLA.

Immediately upon filing its Complaint, Infinity moved for an expedited hearing and a preliminary injunction. (Docket No. 2). The motion to expedite was granted and the motion for preliminary injunction is now before the Court. Local 210 has moved for leave to file a sur-reply (Docket No. 13), a copy of which it appended to its motion. The motion for leave to file a sur-reply is granted, and the Court will consider the Affirmation of Richard D. Furlong, Esq., dated June 2, 2009, in connection with Infinity's preliminary injunction motion.


The following facts are undisputed for purposes of the instant motion. Manning Squire Henning ("Manning") was awarded a contract for work at South Park High School (the "School Project"), which included, inter alia, window work. (Docket Nos. 6-3, ¶ 5; 6-4.) Manning subcontracted wood window installation to Infinity. (Docket No. 6-3 ¶¶ 5-6.)

The PLA requires that once a contract for work is awarded, and prior to the anticipated start date, the contractor will convene a pre-job meeting at which work assignments will be made. (Docket No. 1, Ex. A ("PLA"), Art. X, sec. 2(b)(1)-(3).) A prejob conference was held in connection with the School Project on October 31, 2007. (Docket No. 6-3, ¶ 5.) Samuel Capitano, a Local 210 business agent, attended the conference, as did Thomas Burke, representing the Carpenters Union, and David Ciurzynski, a Manning manager. (Docket Nos. 6-3, ¶ 8; 6-5.) Manning made work assignments for Infinity's wood window work as follows: "Carp., Install; Laborers - Cleanup." (Docket Nos. 6-3, ¶ 8; 6-5.) Ciurzynski also determined that the unloading of material at the job site and its transfer to the point of installation would be assigned to the Laborers.*fn2 (Docket No. 6-3, ¶ 6.)

Infinity started work on the School Project in August 2008. (Docket No. 1, ¶ 10.) On April 8, 2009, Peter Capitano, a Local 210 business agent, visited the School Project on another matter and observed an individual cleaning and sweeping debris from windows. (Docket No. 6, ¶ 3.) Capitano asked the worker if he was a laborer, to which the worker responded that he was not, but was a carpenter. (Id.) Capitano then asked whether a laborer was working with him on the job, to which the worker also responded no. (Id.) There is nothing in the record here that explains when, why, or by whom Infinity's cleanup work was reassigned to the Carpenters. There is no indication that Local 210 received notice of the reassignment prior to Capitano's site visit.

Local 210 notified Infinity of its grievance by letter dated April 13, 2009, alleging, inter alia, that Infinity violated Article X of the PLA by failing to hire Local 210 members to perform work assigned to it at the pre-job conference held on October 31, 2007. (Docket No. 1, Ex. B.) Local 210 subsequently served on Infinity a Notice of Intention to Arbitrate. (Id., Ex. C.) Infinity forwarded that Notice to Thomas Burke of the Carpenters Union, who, in a letter to the Laborers dated May 6, 2009, stated that the grievance involves a jurisdictional dispute because Local 210 is attempting to claim Carpenters' work. (Id., Ex. D.) Infinity subsequently demanded that Local 210 withdraw its Notice and proceed in accordance with the PLA's jurisdictional dispute resolution mechanism. (Id., Ex. E.) When Local 210 failed to do so, this action ensued.


A. The PLA

The PLA states that, in recognition of the special needs of Buffalo's 10-year school rehabilitation and replacement project, "and to maintain a spirit of harmony, cooperation, labor-management peace and stability during the term of this Agreement, the parties agree to establish effective and binding methods for the settlement of all misunderstandings, disputes, or grievances which may arise." (Art. III (emphasis supplied).)

The PLA's provisions include the collective bargaining agreements of the trade unions that are signatories to the PLA, and those agreements appear at Schedule A of the PLA ("Schedule A agreements"). (Art. IV, sec. 5(a).) However, where a subject addressed in the body of the PLA is also covered by a Schedule A agreement, the PLA's provisions prevail. (Id.) Any question as to whether the PLA or a Schedule A agreement ...

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