Cavanaugh v. UAW - International et al
ORDER granting 9 Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow. (MLan)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 15-13223
SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
ARTHUR J. TARNOW
UAW INTERNATIONAL UNION, ET AL.,
U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MONA K. MAJZOUB
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISMISS, OR
ALTERNATIVELY, FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
Plaintiff Gay Cavanaugh, an employee at Ford Motor Company, was placed
on medical leave in November 2004. Plaintiff contacted Ford about returning to
her position in the Clerk’s Department upon the expiration of her medical leave in
January 2006, but to no avail. After Ms. Cavanaugh returned to work in January
2007, Defendant UAW Local No. 228 filed a grievance on her behalf, challenging
Ford’s inability to place Ms. Cavanaugh in a position consistent with her medical
restrictions. UAW Local No. 228 investigated Plaintiff’s allegations by meeting
with supervisors at Ford and extensively reviewing documents. After determining
that there was no evidence to support Plaintiff’s complaints, Local No. 228
withdrew the grievance in September 2012.
Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on September 11, 2015, alleging that UAW Local
No. 228 and Co-Defendant UAW International breached their duty to fairly
Page 1 of 20
represent her. According to Plaintiff, Defendants failed to obtain her authorization
before withdrawing the grievance; failed to communicate with her while the
grievance was processed; wrongfully withdrew the grievance; acted arbitrarily
and/or in bad faith; and failed to adequately administer and/or adjudicate her
dispute with Ford.
Plaintiff’s submissions to the Court are muddled and confusing. According
to the complaint, Plaintiff brings this action under Section 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185 et seq. However, in her
Response to Defendants’ Motion, Plaintiff for the first time states that she brings
her claims pursuant to Section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”),
29 U.S.C. § 159 et seq. In other portions of her Response, Plaintiff proceeds as
though Section 301 governs her claims. The Court will address this discrepancy in
more detail later in this Opinion.
The Court has considered the parties’ submissions and finds the motion
suitable for determination without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2).
For the reasons stated below, the Court will GRANT the Motion to
Dismiss/Motion for Summary Judgment as to both defendants. Plaintiff consents to
dismissal of her claims as to Defendant UAW International. The Court will also
dismiss Plaintiff’s claims as to Defendant UAW Local 228 because she has failed
to allege that the union acted in a hostile or discriminatory manner; that the union
Page 2 of 20
exercised its discretion in bad faith; or that the union engaged in arbitrary conduct.
See Airline Pilots Ass'n Int’l v. O’Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 76 (1991).
Plaintiff Gay Cavanaugh has been a Ford Motor Company employee1 in the
Clerk’s Department at the axle plant in Sterling, Michigan since 1996. While
working at Ford, Plaintiff has been a member of a bargaining unit represented by
UAW Local 228. The terms and conditions of her employment are governed by
several collective bargaining agreements between Ford and the UAW, including
the 2003 Master Agreement (Dkt 9-2, Ex. A, Pg. ID 94), which establishes the
grievance procedures at issue in this case.
Plaintiff’s attempts to return to work after medical leave and the
filing of the 2007 grievance.
Ford placed Plaintiff on medical leave in November 2004. Her leave expired
in January 2006. Throughout 2006, Plaintiff attempted to return to work under
physician-imposed restrictions, including sedentary work with a sit/stand option
and constraints on her use of heavy machinery. (Dkt. 16-1, Ex. A, Pg. ID 584-97).
However, Ford consistently informed Plaintiff that no work was available within
her job classification. Id. In January 2007, Plaintiff returned to the position at
which she worked prior to her medical leave. According to Plaintiff, this position
Although it does not affect the Court’s analysis, it is unclear whether Plaintiff
remains employed by Ford.
Page 3 of 20
was available in 2006 – while she continuously sought employment – and it was
consistent with her medical restrictions. Plaintiff was compensated while on leave,
but did not receive overtime pay, seniority, or time toward her pension. As part of
her efforts to reenter the work force, Plaintiff requested assistance from several
different union representatives, including Jerry Payne, Gary Martin, Donnie
Marshall, and Jeff Terry.
As a result of Ford’s failure to reinstate Plaintiff in January 2006, UAW
Local 228 District Committeman Ken Gaffa filed grievance #CC-312933 on
Plaintiff’s behalf on March 22, 2007 (Dkt. 16-1, Pg. ID 599). The basis of
Plaintiff’s grievance was that Ford transferred employee Marla Woodford to a
vacant position in the Clerk’s Department rather than recalling Plaintiff to this
Article VII of the Master Agreement governs Local No. 228’s grievance
protocols. The Agreement provides, in relevant part:
[T]he Union shall, in the redress of alleged violations by the Company of
this Agreement . . . be the exclusive representative of the interests of each
employee or group of employees covered by this Agreement, and only the
Union shall have the right to assert and press against the Company any
claim, proceeding or action asserting a violation of this agreement.
(Dkt. 9-2, Ex. A, pg. 44-45).
Page 4 of 20
The Master Agreement also gives the union the power to withdraw a
grievance or appeal a grievance, even absent the employee’s consent. Id. at pg. 48,
51 (“The Unit Committee shall have power to withdraw a . . . grievance . . .”).
The grievance procedure begins with oral discussions among the employee,
the UAW District Committeeperson, and the employee’s supervisor at Ford. In the
event that the grievance is not resolved at that point, the Committeeperson may
appeal to Stage 2. Assuming oral discussion is unsuccessful, the written grievance
is submitted to the company at a Unit Grievance Meeting. The company has one
week to issue a written decision on all grievances considered at the Grievance
Meeting. Id. at 45-47.
The Chairperson of the Unit Committee may refer the grievance to Stage 3 if
she considers it to be well-founded. The company is given notice of the third stage
grievance, and both parties must exchange a complete and detailed statement of the
facts and circumstances surrounding the grievance. If the grievance contains a
claim for discrimination, the Bargaining Chairperson may refer the grievance to
the Chairperson of the Civil Rights Committee of the Local Union for
investigation. Id. at 48-49.
Pursuant to step 1 of the Article VII grievance process, Gaffa met with
Plaintiff and a Ford supervisor for an initial oral discussion. They were unable to
resolve the grievance at this time.
Page 5 of 20
Neil Wallyn’s involvement with Plaintiff’s grievance.
Gaffa appealed to the second step of the procedure on March 23, 2007, and
referred Plaintiff’s grievance to Plant Committeman Neil Wallyn. Wallyn was then
handling approximately 300 other active grievances within the bargaining unit at
the Plant. (Dkt. 9-2 at Pg. ID 85-86).
Wallyn reviewed the step 1 record, all applicable contracts between the
UAW and Ford, and met with Plaintiff. After examining Article VIII, Section 30 of
the Master Agreement,2 Wallyn could not identify any specific contractual
provision requiring Ford to immediately recall Plaintiff from medical leave
irrespective of ability and seniority. Additionally, Wallyn did not find any evidence
of the following:
1) that there was work available within Plaintiff’s restrictions;
2) that her seniority entitled her to such a position;
3) Ford transferred Marla Woodford – or any other employee – to a vacant
position rather than reinstating Plaintiff.
Ford denied the grievance at the second step and Wallyn appealed to a step 2.5
The relevant language in the Master Agreement states as follows: “at the
expiration of [an approved medical leave of absence], an employee will be returned
to work which the employee can perform in accordance with the employee’s
seniority . . .” (Dkt. 9-2, Ex. A, Pg. 90).
Page 6 of 20
Because Plaintiff was employed when her grievance was filed,3 UAW and
Ford did not give her grievance priority. Defendant maintains, however, that
Wallyn constantly updated Plaintiff about the status of her grievance. (Dkt. 9-2,
Pg. ID 86) (“Over the next few years, I routinely spoke to Ms. Cavanaugh during
working hours about the status of this grievance . . .”).
Plaintiff took a second medical leave of absence in April 2008 and did not
return to Ford until May 2010. Although Wallyn was elected the Plant Chairman of
the bargaining unit in June 2010, he continued to handle Plaintiff’s grievance.
In March 2011, Wallyn met with Christine Baker, Ford’s Labor Supervisor,
to discuss several active step 2.5 grievances, one of which was Plaintiff’s 2007
grievance. During this meeting, Wallyn and Baker reviewed several documents,
including Plaintiff’s and Woodford’s personnel records. Woodford’s records
indicated that she was transferred to a vacant position in the Clerk’s Department in
October 2005. Woodford’s only transfer occurred three months before Plaintiff
was due to return from her medical leave. (Dkt. 9-2, Pg. ID 86-87). Wallyn also
learned that Woodford’s transfer was done in accordance with the “NonPromotional Transfer Agreement,” a provision in the Master Agreement that gives
employees the right to apply for a transfer to jobs considered non-promotional
Defendant notes that Plaintiff’s grievance was not prioritized because “[i]t has
been a practice of the parties to hear all grievances in order from the date filed,
unless the grievance relates to a discharge or otherwise loss of employment.” (Dkt.
9-2, Pg. ID 85).
Page 7 of 20
within their classification in a different department. Id. When a vacancy arises,
Ford offers the position to the applicant with the highest seniority. Of the
employees who applied for the transfer to the Clerk’s Department, Baker
explained, Woodford had the highest seniority. Id. at Pg. ID 88. The Master
Agreement also gives Ford the right to transfer employees to other classifications
within the employees’ seniority group. Woodford worked in the clerical seniority
group at the time of her transfer to the Clerk’s Department, and therefore, Ford had
the right to transfer her. Baker also stated that Woodford had six more years’
seniority than Plaintiff.
After meeting with Baker, Wallyn asked that the grievance be placed on
hold while he investigated further. Id. Although the step 2.5 meeting was
adjourned to a later date, Wallyn continued negotiating with Ford. It is Defendant’s
position that Ford did not consider any settlement terms that included a payment of
money damages to Plaintiff.
The step 2.5 meeting continued on September 11, 2012. Baker maintained
that Ford did not violate any provision of the Master Agreement when it refused to
recall Plaintiff from her medical leave until January 2007. Id. at Pg. ID 89. She
also said that there were no vacancies in the Clerk’s Department or throughout the
Plant during the period between January 2006 and January 2007.
Page 8 of 20
Defendant contends that Wallyn had nothing to dispute Ford’s evidence
demonstrating that Woodford’s transfer occurred when Plaintiff was ineligible to
return to work. Wallyn also had no evidence that Ford could have accommodated
Plaintiff’s medical needs in a position that became vacant after her medical leave
in January 2006, or that Plaintiff had the requisite seniority to fill this position. Id.
This, coupled with the fact that Plaintiff earned disability benefits during the
claimed backpay period that offset any claimed damages, lead Wallyn to believe
that Plaintiff’s grievance lacked merit to proceed to stage 3. After meeting with
Baker, Wallyn withdrew Plaintiff’s grievance and made a record of this decision
on the Second Step Grievance Record. Id. at Pg. ID 289. Defendant asserts that
Wallyn notified Plaintiff of his decision during the week following the September
11, 2012 step 2.5 meeting. Id. at Pg. ID 90. He also states that it would have been
very easy for Plaintiff to learn about the status of her grievance, as all Local 228
representative had access to the file in the union’s office at the Plant. Id. at Pg. ID
92 (if any of the union representatives contacted by Plaintiff “needed an update on
any grievance filed within the bargaining unit, [they] could have spoken to
[Wallyn] directly or make arrangements to review the grievance files that were
kept in an office at the Plant.”).
Page 9 of 20
Plaintiff’s suspension and the 2013 grievance
On April 23, 2013, Ford suspended Plaintiff without pay for 30 days,
claiming that she violated the zero tolerance workplace violence policy by using
derogatory language and threatening a coworker. (Dkt. 10-1, Pg. ID 363).
Defendant Local 228 filed a grievance on Plaintiff’s behalf on April 28, 2013,
arguing that the suspension was without just cause. Plant Committeeman Sam
Vultaggio, Neil Wallyn’s successor, handled Plaintiff’s grievance. The grievance
settled at a step 3 hearing on May 5, 2015, and Ford paid Plaintiff 80 hours of lost
wages. Id. Defendant states that Plaintiff never asked about the status of her 2007
grievance, nor did she complaint to Vultaggio about Wallyn. Id. at Pg. ID 364.
Internal Union Appeal Process, as set forth by the UAW
Constitution, and the grievance reinstatement process.
The UAW Constitution gives UAW members “the right . . . to appeal any
action, decision, or penalty” of, among others, the International Union and the
Local Union. (Dkt. 10-2, Pg. ID 411-12). The Constitution requires aggrieved
members “to exhaust fully [their] remed[ies] and all appeals under this
Constitution and the rules of this Union before going to a civil court of government
agency for redress.” Id. at Pg. ID 416.
To initiate the appellate process, an aggrieved member must first appeal “to
the membership or delegate body immediately responsible for the official, officer,
action or decision under challenge.” Id. at Pg. ID 412. A member who is
Page 10 of 20
dissatisfied with the result at this step may then appeal to the International
Executive Board (IEB), at which point an evidentiary hearing usually occurs. The
union member can then appeal to the Convention Appeals Committee (CAC) or
Public Review Board (PRB). The IEB, CAC, or PRB can order the UAW to pay
money damages to an aggrieved member or order the processing of a grievance
that was wrongly disposed of. The member has the right to representation of
counsel at all appearances before the IEB, CAC, and PRB. Id. at Pg. ID 416.
Defendant notes that Plaintiff never appealed Local 228’s decision to
withdraw the 2007 grievance. Id. at Pg. ID 368. Plaintiff also failed to utilize the
grievance reinstatement procedure, through which she could have requested that
her grievance be reinstituted. (Dkt. 9-2, Ex. I, Pg. ID 358) (“[I]n those instances
where the UAW’s International Executive Board, Public Review Board, or
Constitutional Convention Appeals Committee have reviewed a grievance
disposition and found that such disposition was improperly concluded by the
Union body or representative involved, the National Ford Department may so
inform the Labor Relations Staff . . . and request . . . that such grievance be
reinstituted . . .”).
Defendants move for dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), or in the alternative, for summary judgment under Rule 56. On a Rule
Page 11 of 20
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the Court must “assume the veracity of [the plaintiff’s]
well-pleaded factual allegations and determine whether the plaintiff is entitled to
legal relief as a matter of law.” McCormick v. Miami Univ., 693 F.3d 654, 658
(6th Cir. 2012) (citing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009)). “To survive a
motion to dismiss, [plaintiff] must allege ‘enough facts to state a claim to relief that
is plausible on its face.’” Traverse Bay Area Intermediate Sch. Dist. v. Mich. Dep’t
of Educ., 615 F.3d 622, 627 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)).
On a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment, the Court must determine
whether “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” FED. R. CIV. P. 56(c). The moving party has the burden of establishing that
there are no genuine issues of material fact, which may be accomplished by
demonstrating that the nonmoving party lacks evidence to support an essential
element of its case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The Court
must construe the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v.
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). A genuine issue for trial exists if
Page 12 of 20
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
Defendant Local 228 sets forth the following arguments as to why the Court
should grant its motion dismiss to dismiss/motion for summary judgment:
1) Plaintiff failed to exhaust internal UAW appeals;
2) Plaintiff’s Section 301 action is time barred;
3) Plaintiff fails to state a Section 301 claim for breach of the duty of fair
4) Local 228 did not breach its duty to fairly represent Plaintiff while
handling her 2007 grievance; and
5) Ford did not breach the collective bargaining agreement by failing to
reinstate Plaintiff in January 2006.
As mentioned previously, Plaintiff asserts in her Response that she brings her
claims against Defendants pursuant to Section 9 of the NLRA, rather than Section
301 of the LMRA.4 Defendants argue that Plaintiff is precluded from raising her
Section 9 claim at this stage because she failed to allege it in her complaint, and
furthermore, that she cannot “dress up [the] hybrid Section 301 action . . . as a
separate cause of action” under Section 9 of the NLRA. Glasstetter v. International
Union, No. 16-11412, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134775, at *16 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 29,
The complaint states: “jurisdiction of this Court is founded . . . on Section 301 of
the Labor Management Relations Act.” (Dkt. 1, Pg. ID 2). However, in her
Response to Defendants’ Motion, Plaintiff states that in fact, “she has filed an
action under Section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 159 et
seq.” (Dkt. 16, Pg. ID 570).
Page 13 of 20
2016) (Cleland, J.). The Court will briefly summarize the differences between a
Section 301 LMRA claim and a Section 9 NLRA claim.
A plaintiff-employee’s hybrid Section 301 action “comprises two causes of
action.” DelCostello v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 164 (1983). “The
first is a suit against the employer for breach of the collective bargaining
agreement; the second is a suit against the union for breach of its duty of fair
representation.” Kosa v. Int’l UAW, 143 F. Supp. 3d 592, 601 (E.D. Mich. 2015)
(Duggan, J.). A plaintiff-employee “may . . . sue one defendant and not the other;
but the case he must prove is the same whether he sues [the union, the employer]
or both.” DelCostello, 462 U.S. at 165. In other words, for a plaintiff to succeed “in
a Section 301 action against the union or the employer, the plaintiff must show that
the employer breached the collective bargaining agreement and that the union
breached its duty of fair representation.” Pratt v. UAW, Local 1435, 939 F.2d 385,
388 (6th Cir. 1991) (citing Bagsby v. Lewis Bros. Inc. of Tenn., 820 F.2d 799, 801
(6th Cir. 1987)). “Unless [the plaintiff] demonstrates both violations, he cannot
succeed against either party.” Bagsby, 820 F.2d at 801.
A claim brought under Section 9(a) of the NLRA is distinct from a Section
301 claim, and stands alone. See Kosa, 143 F. Supp. 3d at 602 (where the plaintiffs
alleged a hybrid § 301 claim and an independent § 9(a) claim, “the viability of
Plaintiffs’ separate duty of fair representation [§ 9(a)] claim against UAW is not
Page 14 of 20
affected by the Court’s resolution of the hybrid § 301 claim.”). The duty of fair
representation created by § 9(a) “flows from the union’s statutory position as
exclusive representative and exists both before and after the execution of [a
collective bargaining] agreement [with the employer].” Storey v. Local 327, 759
F.2d 517, 523 (6th Cir. 1985). The union’s duty to fairly represent its members,
therefore, “does not depend on the existence of a collective bargaining agreement.”
Pratt, 939 F.2d at 388. Indeed, “[s]ection 9a, in conjunction with 28 U.S.C. § 1337,
creates a jurisdictional basis for actions for breach of the duty of fair representation
independent of Section 301.” Pratt, 939 F.2d at 388 (emphasis added).
The test to determine the correct cause of action as set forth by the Sixth
Circuit is as follows: “if a plaintiff’s complaint state[s] a ‘colorable claim’ under
the collective bargaining agreement, it must be construed as a Section 301 claim
rather than a Section 9(a) claim.” Pratt, 939 F.2d at 389 (citing White v. Anchor
Motor Freight, Inc., 899 F.2d 555 (6th Cir. 1990)). This reasoning is consistent
with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Breininger v. Sheet Metal Workers Int’l Ass’n
Local Union No. 6, which provides:
While in Vaca [v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171 (1967)] an allegation that the union
had breached its duty of fair representation was a necessary component of
the § 301 claim against the employer, the converse is not true here: a suit
against the union need not be accompanied by an allegation that an
employer breached the contract, since whatever the employer's liability, the
employee would still retain a legal claim against the union.
493 U.S. 67, 82-83 (1989) (emphasis added).
Page 15 of 20
The Court will characterize Plaintiff’s claim as one derived from § 9(a) of
the NLRA. Plaintiff Cavanaugh “perhaps realizing [s]he has no claim against
[Ford] under the collective bargaining agreement, alleges claims based upon
independent breaches of duty on the part of the union.” Pratt, 939 F.2d at 390.
“[I]n such circumstances, a plaintiff need not state a claim under Section 301 to
state a claim under Section 9(a).” Id. Contrary to Defendants’ assertions, Plaintiff’s
claims are best construed as being brought under Section 9 rather than Section 301.
Plaintiff has not alleged any breach of the collective bargaining agreement by Ford,
nor did she name Ford as a defendant. Because the crux of Plaintiff’s complaint
pertains to the union’s alleged arbitrary and perfunctory handling of her grievance,
the complaint does not present a “quintessential hybrid 301 claim.” Id. at 389.
A. Plaintiff’s Claim for Breach of the Duty of Fair Representation is Time
“Regardless of whether this is a hybrid action or an action solely for breach
of the duty of fair representation, this case is governed by a statute of limitations of
six months.” Barker v. Int’l UAW, No. 14-12997, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169931,
at *5-6 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 9, 2014) (Edmunds, J.). “[T]he limitations period begins
to run when the potential plaintiffs know or should have known of the union’s
alleged breach of its duty of fair representation.” Ratkosky v. United Transp.
Union, 842 F.2d 869, 873 (6th Cir. 1988).
Page 16 of 20
According to Plaintiff, May 19, 2015 is the date on which she learned that
her 2007 grievance had been withdrawn.5 She points to September 11, 2015, the
date on which she filed her complaint, to show that she brought this action within
the six month statute of limitations. Defendant contends that Plaintiff’s claim
began to accrue in September 2012 when Wallyn first told her that he withdrew the
Plaintiff’s argument fails. The record indicates that Plaintiff knew, or should
have known, about the status of her 2007 grievance on July 24, 2009, when she
filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board
(“NLRB”), the basis of which was Defendant’s allegedly poor handling of the
2007 grievance.6 See Adams v. Budd Co., 846 F.2d 428, 431 (7th Cir. 1988) (the
plaintiffs knew of the union’s intention when they “filed an unfair labor practice
charge with the NLRB against the union . . . alleging a breach of the duty of fair
representation. Plaintiffs’ own actions thus establish that they, too, interpreted [the
union representative’s] letter as a final decision by the union not to pursue their
claims.”); Gustafson v. Cornelius Co., 724 F.2d 75, 77 (8th Cir. 1983) (the filing of
This is the date on which Plaintiff’s attorney allegedly received correspondence
from UAW Local 228 President Paul Torrente. It appears that President Torrente
informed Plaintiff’s attorney that the grievance was withdrawn in September 2012.
(Dkt. 16-1, Pg. ID 623).
The NLRB charge states: “During the past 28 months, and continuing to the
present day, [Defendant has] acted in bad faith by failing and refusing to pursue a
grievance contesting the Employer’s failure to recall me from no work available in
violation of contract.” (Dkt. 9-2, Ex. H, Pg. ID 355).
Page 17 of 20
the unfair labor practice charge over the same conduct that later gave rise to a §
301 complaint as evidence that the plaintiff knew the union would no longer
pursue his grievance).
It is clear that Plaintiff either knew the status of her 2007 grievance, or at
least took serious issue with Defendant’s handling of her grievance (and therefore
should have known of the grievance’s status), by July 24, 2009, and accordingly,
should have filed this action by January 24, 2010, seven years ago. Furthermore,
even assuming that Plaintiff first learned about the withdrawal of her grievance in
May 2015, her claims are still time-barred. Plaintiff’s allegations against
Defendant include its failure to obtain her authorization before withdrawing the
grievance; failure to communicate with her while the grievance was processed;
wrongful withdrawal of the grievance; arbitrary and/or bad faith conduct; and
failure to adequately administer and/or adjudicate her dispute with Ford. Such
conduct “occurred longer than six months before the filing of this case” in
September 2015. Therefore, “Plaintiff cannot rely on any of it to establish a
breach of the duty of fair representation.” Barker, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169931,
B. Plaintiff Fails to State a Claim for Breach of the Duty of Fair
Section 9(a) directs unions to “serve the interests of all members without
hostility or discrimination toward any[;] exercise its discretion with complete good
Page 18 of 20
faith and honesty[;] and avoid arbitrary conduct.” Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177
(1967). A union acts arbitrarily “only if, in light of the factual and legal landscape
at the time of the union’s actions, the union’s behavior is so far outside a ‘wide
range of reasonableness’ as to be irrational.” Nida v. Plant Protection Ass’n Nat’l,
7 F.3d 522, 526 (6th Cir. 1993) (quoting O’Neill, 499 U.S. at 67). “[A]n unwise or
even an unconsidered decision by the union is not necessarily an irrational
decision.” Walk v. P.I.E. Nationwide, 958 F.2d 1323, 1326 (6th Cir. 1992). A
union’s judgment are not arbitrary “even if those judgments are ultimately wrong,”
negligent, or mistaken. Marquez v. Screen Actors Guild, Inc., 525 U.S. 33, 45-46
(1998); Poole v. Budd Co., 706 F.2d 181, 183 (6th Cir. 1983). Additionally, to
prove discrimination or bad faith by a union, Plaintiff must show “substantial
evidence of fraud, deceitful action or dishonest conduct.” Humphrey v. Moore, 375
U.S. 335, 348 (1964). In examining a union’s performance and determining
whether it has breached its duty, the Court must be highly deferential. See O’Neill,
499 U.S. at 78.
Plaintiff has not alleged any facts to substantiate her claim that UAW Local
228 acted in an arbitrary or discriminatory way, or that it acted in bad faith. The
fact that Wallyn did not respond to her emails is not indicative of hostility or
arbitrariness. See Wilson v. International Broth. of Teamsters, 83 F.3d 747, 753
(6th Cir. 1996) (the union representative’s handling of the grievance “while
Page 19 of 20
perhaps less than vigorous,” was not considered hostile where he merely responded
to plaintiff in a perfunctory manner); Ryan v. General Motors Corp., 929 F.2d
1105, 1109 (6th Cir. 1989) (“Even assuming a delay [in notifying plaintiff about
the withdrawal of the grievance] occurred, that fact alone does not constitute a
material breach in Local ’s duty of fair representation.”). Moreover, Plaintiff
identifies no facts in support of the claim that Local 228 exhibited reckless
disregard, gross negligence, or animus toward her. See Caryer v. International
UAW, No. 92-7201, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15565, at *35-36 (N.D. Ohio, Feb. 24,
1997). Finally, Plaintiff cannot plausibly complain about Defendant’s conduct
when the Master Agreement gives Local 228 the right to withdraw the grievance
without Plaintiff’s consent. (Dkt. 9-2, Ex. A, pg. 51). Plaintiff has not succeeded at
the formidable task of proving bad faith by the UAW as it pertains to the handling
of her grievance.
IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, or Alternatively, for
Summary Judgment  is GRANTED.
Dated: February 2, 2017
s/Arthur J. Tarnow
Arthur J. Tarnow
Senior United States District Judge
Page 20 of 20
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?