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Trustees for Mason Tenders District Council Welfare Fund v. United Construction Field, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 25, 2015

TRUSTEES FOR THE MASON TENDERS DISTRICT COUNCIL WELFARE FUND, PENSION FUND, ANNUITY FUND, and TRAINING PROGRAM FUND; and ROBERT BONANZA, as Business Manager of the MASON TENDERS DISTRICT COUNCIL OF GREATER NEW YORK, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED CONSTRUCTION FIELD, INC., Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge.

On December 18, 2014, the Trustees for the Mason Tenders District Council Welfare Fund, Pension Fund, Annuity Fund, and Training Program Fund, and Robert Bonanza as Business Manager of the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York (collectively, "plaintiffs"), commenced this action to confirm an arbitration award (the "Award") issued against defendant United Construction Field, Inc. ("UCF"). Dkt. 1 ("Compl."). This action was filed under Section 501(d)(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(d)(1); Section 301(c) of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185; and Section 9 of the Federal Arbitration Act ("FAA"), 9 U.S.C § 9. Plaintiffs also seek statutory interest to accrue from the date judgment is entered in this case until UCF has paid the Award in full.

On January 14, 2015, the Complaint was served on UCF, and on January 21, 2015, proof of service was filed with the Court. Dkt. 3. The deadline for UCF to answer the Complaint was February 4, 2015, see Dkt. 3, and the deadline for UCF to oppose plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment was March 20, 2015, see Dkt. 4. To date, UCF has not appeared in this action.

For the following reasons, the Award is confirmed, and plaintiffs' request for postjudgment interest is granted.

I. Background[1]

A. The Parties

The Mason Tenders District Council Welfare, Annuity, Pension, and Training Program Funds (collectively, the "Funds") are employee benefit plans as defined in Section 3(3) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3), and multiemployer plans within the meaning of Section 3(37)(A) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(37)(A). Compl. ¶ 1. The Funds' main purpose is to provide fringe benefits to eligible employees pursuant to collective bargaining agreements between employers and the Mason Tenders District Council of Greater New York and Long Island (the "Union"). Id. Each of the Funds is established and maintained pursuant to an Amended and Restated Agreement and Declaration of Trust, the "Benefit Plan Trust Agreement" and the "Pension Fund Trust Agreement" (collectively, the "Trust Agreements"). Id. The Funds maintain their principal place of business in New York, New York. Id. Bonanza, the Business Manager of the Union, brings this action for dues and contributions in his representative capacity pursuant to Section 12 of the General Associations Law of the State of New York. Savci Decl. ¶ 6.

UCF is an "employer" as defined by the Trust Agreements; it is a signatory to the 2008-2011 Independent Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") and the 2009-2014 NYC Agency Renovation Project Labor Agreement ("PLA"). Compl. ¶ 6. UCF's place of business is in Brooklyn, New York. Id. ¶ 3.

B. The Collective Bargaining Agreements

On July 1, 2008, Shamas Mian, then President of UCF, signed the CBA on behalf of UCF, and Bonanza signed on behalf of the Union. Savci Decl., Ex. 1A ("CBA"), at 39. By its terms, the CBA was to remain effective through June 30, 2011, and thereafter renew automatically for one-year terms unless either party sought to modify or amend it. Id. at 37. Neither party has given "written notice of termination pursuant to the terms of the [CBA]." Savci Decl. ¶ 9.

Under the CBA, UCF was required to "pay weekly all fringe benefit contributions, dues, and MTDC PAC [Union Political Action Committee] deductions to the applicable entity." CBA at 41. As an enforcement mechanism, the CBA provides for audits by the Union to independently verify that proper contributions have been made. Id. at 23. The CBA further provides for dispute resolution through arbitration. Id. at 32. It details the arbitration procedures to be followed, stating, in relevant part, that where UCF is found to have failed to pay the fringe benefits, dues, or MTDC PAC contributions, the Union may seek an award that includes "interest at the prime rate on the day of the award plus two percent, running from the date of the violation, " attorneys' fees and costs, and statutory relief. Id. at 33.

On November 14, 2009, Mian, again acting on behalf of UCF, signed a Sub-Contractor Affidavit of Project Labor Agreement. Savci Deck, Ex. IB ("PLA"), at 1. On May 4, 2011, Mian executed a Letter of Assent to the same effect. Id. at 2. These agreements bound UCF to the terms of the PLA, effective from 2009 to 2014. Id. at 1-2. The PLA, together with the CBA, bound UCF to the terms by which it was to manage work on various projects. The PLA incorporates the Trust Agreement. PL A at Art. 11 § 2b. The Trust Agreement states, in relevant part, that "[i]n addition to any other remedies which may exist under the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement... an Employer in default for ten (10) business days shall be obligated to pay interest from the due date... in the amount determined by using the rate prescribed under section 6621 of Title 26 of the United States Code." Savci Decl., Ex. 2 ("Trust Agreement") at 37. The PLA also provides procedures for arbitration, which include that if, after due notice, a party "fails to be present or fails to obtain a postponement" the arbitration award "shall be based solely on the evidence presented by the appearing party." Id. Ex. 3, at 3.

C. The Arbitration Award

On May 9, 2013, plaintiffs sent a Notice and Demand for Arbitration to UCF, alleging that UCF had failed to make sufficient benefit contributions for the period of February 1, 2012 through June 30, 2012. Savci Decl. ¶ 18. On May 20, 2013, Robert Herzog, Esq., an approved arbitrator listed in the CBA, scheduled a hearing for June 24, 2013. Id. A notice of the hearing was delivered to UCF via regular and certified mail, as required by the CBA. See id.; CBA at 32. On June 24, 2013, UCF failed to appear, and plaintiffs agreed to reschedule. Savci Decl, ¶ 18. Herzog rescheduled the hearing for September 9, 2013. Id. Again, Herzog sent proper notice to UCF, but no representative appeared on the company's behalf. Id. On November 19, 2013, after rescheduling and notifying UCF of the new ...


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