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Annuity Welfare Apprenticeship Skill Improvement & Safety Funds v. Baywood Concrete Corporation

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 25, 2014

The Annuity Welfare Apprenticeship Skill Improvement & Safety Funds of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 15, 15A, 15C, and 15D, AFL-CIO by its Trustees, Plaintiffs,
v.
Baywood Concrete Corporation, Defendant.

OPINION

THOMAS P. GRIESA, District Judge.

Plaintiffs the Annuity, Welfare, Apprenticeship Skill Improvement & Safety Funds of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 15, 15A, 15C, and 15D, AFL-CIO (the "Trust Funds") have brought this action pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. ("ERISA"), and the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185 et seq. ("LMRA"). The action is against defendant Baywood Concrete Corporation.

Plaintiffs seek to collect contributions ($59, 059 in all) that defendant failed to pay towards employee fringe-benefit trust funds from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2010. The parties dispute whether the Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") between defendant and Local 15, the Trust Funds' sponsoring union, that required the fringe-benefit payments at issue, continued to be in force during the period in question.

Plaintiffs now move for summary judgment. The court finds that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claim, because the CBA was no longer in force during the period in question. As a result, the court dismisses plaintiffs' claim in its entirety.

Facts

Plaintiffs bring suit as the fiduciary for the employee fringe-benefit trust funds. Plaintiffs claim that defendant entered into the CBA with the International Union of Operating Engineers-Local 15, 15A, 15C, and 15D (collectively, "Local 15")-on April 26, 2006. This CBA covered the period, July 1, 2002 to June 30, 2006 and will be referred to as the "2002 CBA."

Under the 2002 CBA, defendant was required to remit fringe-benefit contributions to each of plaintiffs' Local 15 trust funds for work performed by Local 15 members. The 2002 CBA also requires that defendant provide fringebenefit contributions for any member of the union who holds a title, or position, with the employer (an "owner/operator"). For example, a Local 15 member who works for the defendant as an officer or director would be covered by the 2002 CBA.

To date, neither party has attempted to formally terminate the CBA.

In October 2007, defendant Baywood Concrete Corporation became a member of the Association of Concrete Contractors of New York, Inc. (the "Association"). Upon joining, defendant immediately authorized the Association to act as its designated collective-bargaining agent in connection with Local 15/15A and Local 15D. Subsequently, defendant entered into two separate collective-bargaining agreements with Local 15/15A and Local 15D, respectively. These agreements cover the period of July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2010 and unlike the 2002 CBA, do not require defendant to pay fringebenefits to owners/operators. Notably, these agreements took effect the day after the 2002 CBA expired. It appears as though defendant intended for these two agreements to replace the 2002 CBA. However, neither party has made this argument in its submissions to the court.

With defendant's permission, plaintiffs' representative conducted an audit of defendant's payroll records covering the three-year period from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2010. The subsequent audit report dated April 11, 2011, concluded that defendant failed to pay fringe-benefit contributions and interest in the amount of $59, 059. More specifically, the audit found that defendant failed to pay these fringe-benefits for Francisco Silva, an owner/operator, who is a member of Local 15D and is also an officer at defendant's company.

Plaintiffs then filed this action on April 26, 2012, asserting that defendant failed to pay fringe-benefit contributions owed to employee fringebenefit trust funds and breached the terms and conditions of the CBA. On October 17, 2012, plaintiffs moved for summary judgment.

In its responsive pleadings, defendant contends that (1) the CBA expired on June 30, 2006 and (2) subsequently, defendant entered into two new agreements with Local 15/15A and Local 15D, respectively, that did not require the payment of fringe benefits to owners/operators, such as Silva. Accordingly, defendant contends that it does not owe the alleged $59, 059 in fringe-benefits for the period of July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2010.

Discussion

29 U.S.C. § 158(d)(1) of the NLRA provides that even though a collectivebargaining agreement has start and end dates, the duty to bargain does not necessarily expire on the scheduled end date of the agreement. In this vein, the following provision of the 2002 CBA ...


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