United States District Court, S.D. New York
BUILDING SERVICE 32BJ HEALTH FUND; BUILDING SERVICE 32BJ PENSION FUND; BUILDING SERVICE 32BJ SUPPLEMENTAL RETIREMENT & SAVINGS FUND; BUILDING SERVICE 32 BJ LEGAL SERVICES FUND; and THOMAS SHORTMAN TRAINING & SCHOLARSHIP FUND, Plaintiffs / Counterclaim Defendants,
GCA SERVICES GROUP, INC., Defendant/Counterclaim Plaintiff.
OPINION & ORDER
A. ENGELMAYER United States District Judge.
case involves claims for unpaid contributions under two
collective bargaining agreements. On August 4, 2015, five
multi-employer employee benefit plans-Building Service 32BJ
Health Fund ("Health Fund"), Building Service 32BJ
Pension Fund, Building Service 32BJ Supplemental Retirement
& Savings Fund, Building Service 32BJ Legal Services
Fund, and Thomas Shortman Training & Scholarship Fund
(collectively, the "Benefits Funds"-brought this
action against GCA Services Group, Inc. ("GCA").
They seek payment of contributions which they claim GCA was
obliged to-but did not-make between January 1, 2009 and
December 31, 2012, under two sequential collective bargaining
agreements ("CBAs"). They sue GCA under
§§ 502(a)(3) and 515 of the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), as
amended (29 U.S.C. §§ 1132(a)(3), 1145), and
§ 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (29
U.S.C. § 185) ("Taft-Hartley"). GCA disputes
that the contributions were due, and argues that the
Funds' claims as to some contributions are untimely. GCA
brings counterclaims under ERISA and federal common law,
seeking to recover overpayments it claims that it mistakenly
made to the Benefits Funds.
party now moves for summary judgment on all claims. For the
reasons below, the Court grants summary judgment for the
Benefits Funds both as to its claims and as to GCA's
counterclaims, save that the Court finds, with GCA, that the
Benefits Funds' claims for contributions that accrued
before August 4, 2015 are untimely.
Benefits Funds are "jointly-administered,
multi-employer, labor-management trust funds established and
maintained pursuant to various collective bargaining
agreements in accordance with Section 302(c)(5) of
Taft-Hartley (29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(5)), " and are
employee benefit plans within the meaning of §§
3(2)-(3) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1002(3). JSF ¶ 4.
GCA, a for-profit domestic corporation doing business in New
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, is an employer within the
meaning of §§ 3(5) & 515 of ERISA, 29 U.S.C.
§ 1002(5), and is an industry affecting commerce within
the meaning of § 301 of Taft-Hartley, 29 U.S.C. §
185. Id. ¶ 6.
The Collective Bargaining Agreements
two sequential collective bargaining agreements
("CBAs") with Local 32BJ Service Employees
International Union (the "Union"), GCA agreed to
pay contributions to the Benefits Funds on behalf of its
covered employees. Id. ¶¶ 6-8. The CBAs
are known as the "Hartford County Cleaning Contractors
Association Agreements." The first CBA was effective
between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, id.
Ex. A ("CBA I"); the second, between January 1,
2012 and December 31, 2015, id. Ex. D ("CBA
issue here is whether contributions for work on Connecticut
state building projects were to be made based on the covered
employees' hours worked or hours worked and/or paid for.
As to that point, in Articles 18.2 and 19.1, CBA I provided
that, as a general rule, that GCA make contributions on
behalf of covered employees at certain rates "for all
hours worked and/or paid for, to a maximum of forty (40)
hours per week." JSF ¶¶ 8-9. But, with respect
to work on state building projects, Article 33.1 of CBA I
provided that such work "shall have the wage rates and
the value of benefits determined by the State."
Id. ¶ 9.
Articles 18.1 and 19.1 of CBA II required, as a general rule,
that contributions be made "for all hours worked and/or
paid for, including overtime." Id. ¶¶
12-14. And Article 33.1 of CBA II stated that
"[e]mployees employed at buildings covered by the
Connecticut Standard Wage Law shall receive not less that the
wage rates and benefits required by the Standard Wage
Law." Id. ¶ 15.
August 4, 2015, the Benefits Funds filed a Complaint. Dkt. 1.
On September 25, 2015, GCA filed an answer and counterclaims.
Dkt. 10. On November 4, 2015, the Benefits Funds filed an
amended answer to the counterclaims, Dkt. 29, and on November
17, 2015, the Health Fund filed its amended answer to the
counterclaims, Dkt. 32.
March 21, 2016, the Court held a pre-motion conference as to
the forthcoming cross-motions for summary judgment.
See Dkt. 44. On April 18, 2016, the parties, at the
Court's direction, filed Joint Stipulated Facts, and the
Benefits Funds moved for summary judgment on all claims. Dkt.
41. On April 29, 2016, the Benefits Funds filed a memorandum
of law in support of their motions. Dkt. 42 ("Funds
Br."). On May 16, 2016, GCA moved for summary judgment
on all claims, Dkt. 46, and filed a memorandum of law in
support, Dkt. 47 ("GCA Br."). On May 27, 2016, the
Benefits Funds filed a reply memorandum in support of its
motion. Dkt. 50 ("Funds Rep. Br."). On June 13,
2016, GCA filed a reply memorandum in support of its motion.
Dkt. 53 ("GCA. Rep. Br.").
Standards Applicable to Summary Judgment Motions
prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the movant must
"show that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The movant bears the
burden of demonstrating the absence of a question of material
fact. In making this determination, the Court must view all
facts "in the light most favorable" to the
non-moving party. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 323 (1986); see also Holcomb v. Iona Coll., 521
F.3d 130, 132 (2d Cir. 2008). To survive a summary judgment
motion, the opposing party must establish a genuine issue of
fact by "citing to particular parts of materials in the
record." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1); see also Wright v.
Goord, 554 F.3d 255, 266 (2d Cir. 2009). "A party
may not rely on mere speculation or conjecture as to the true
nature of the facts to overcome a motion for summary
judgment, " because "conclusory allegations or
denials cannot by themselves create a genuine issue of
material fact where none would otherwise exist."
Hicks v. Baines, 593 F.3d 159, 166 (2d Cir. 2010)
(citation omitted). Only disputes over "facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law"
will preclude a grant of summary judgment. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In
determining whether there are genuine issues of material
fact, the Court is "required to resolve all ambiguities
and draw all permissible factual inferences in favor of the
party against whom summary judgment is sought."
Johnson v. Killian, 680 F.3d 234, 236 (2d Cir. 2012)
(citing Terry v. Ashcroft, 336 F.3d 128, 137 (2d
Benefits Funds argue that GCA breached its duties under both
CBA I and CBAII by making benefits contributions for covered
employees' work on state building projects based solely
on the hours that those employees actually worked, rather
than also for hours for which the employees were paid but did
not work. The Funds argue that contributions should have been
based on their employees' "hours worked and/or paid
for, " which would include, inter alia, sick
days and paid vacation days. They argue that Article 33.1 of
each CBA, the provision applicable to work on such projects,
yields this result.
provisions of respective CBAs applicable to work on such
projections state that employees "shall have the wage
rates and the value of benefits determined by the State"
(CBA I) and shall be compensated at "not less that the
wage rates and benefits required by the Standard Wage
Law" (CBA II). These provisions, the Benefit Funds
claim, refer-and require benefits to be paid according
to-Connecticut's prevailing wage law. See Conn.
Gen. Stat. 3 l-57f(a)(6). And, the Funds argue, that law, in
turn, directs the Court to the generally applicable
provisions of these very CBAs, the wage provisions of which
provide-in Articles 18.2 and 19.1 of CBA I, and Articles 18.1
and 19.1 of CBA II-that benefits are to be paid for
"hours worked and/or paid for." In opposition, GCA
argues that Articles 33.1 of CBA I and CBA II instruct that
benefits are to be paid in accordance with "state
law." And GCA construes "state law" to refer
to the information contained on the website of the
Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL), which states that
benefits are paid based on hours worked, and does not refer
to hours paid for. Separately, GCA objects to the Funds'
summary judgment motion on the more limited ground ...