Martin v. AK Steel Corporation et al
ORDER (1) Overruling Plaintiff's 42 Objections to the Magistrate Judge's 41 Report and Recommendation, (2) Adopting the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Disposition, (3) Denying Plaintiff's 31 Motion for Summary Judgment, (4) Granting Defendant UAW's 16 Motion to Dismiss, and (5) Dismissing Plaintiff's Claims Against UAW. Signed by District Judge Matthew F. Leitman. (HMon)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
DAVID D. MARTIN,
Case No. 16-cv-10377
Hon. Matthew F. Leitman
AK STEEL CORPORATION and
UNITED AUTO WORKERS
ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS TO
THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
(ECF #42), (2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S
RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION, (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #31), (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT
UAW’S MOTION TO DISMISS (ECF #16), AND (5) DISMISSING
PLAINTIFF’S CLAIMS AGAINST UAW
In this action, Plaintiff David Martin (“Martin”) alleges that his union, the
United Autoworkers International Union (the “UAW”), breached the duty of fair
representation imposed by the National Labor Relations Act when it chose to
settle, rather than arbitrate, a grievance that had been filed against Martin’s
employer on Martin’s behalf. (See Compl., ECF #1 at 4, Pg. ID 4.) The UAW has
moved to dismiss Martin’s claim (ECF #16), and Martin has moved for summary
judgment (ECF #31).
On October, 26 2016, the assigned Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (the “R&R”) in which he suggested that the Court (1) grant the
UAW’s motion and deny Martin’s motion. (See ECF #41.) Martin filed timely
objections to the R&R (the “Objections”). (See ECF #42.)
The Court has
conducted a de novo review of the portions of the R&R to which Martin has
For the reasons below, the Court OVERRULES the Objections,
ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge’s recommended disposition of the case, GRANTS
the UAW’s Motion to Dismiss, and DENIES Martin’s Motion for Summary
RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND
In 2013, AK Steel Corporation (“AK Steel”) terminated Martin’s
employment on the ground that Martin engaged in a theft of time scheme. (See
Compl., ECF #1 at 4, Pg. ID 4.) AK Steel concluded that as part of this scheme,
Martin left work in the middle of his shift and then returned to “clock out” minutes
before the end of his shift. (See Third Stage Grievance Fact Sheet, ECF #16-1 at
163-164, Pg. ID 448-449.)
After AK Steel fired Martin, the UAW then filed a grievance against AK
Steel on Martin’s behalf under the controlling collective bargaining agreement (the
“CBA”). (See id. at 6-8, Pg. ID 6-8.)
The UAW assigned one of its
representatives, Reggie Ransom (“Ransom”), to handle the grievance on Martin’s
behalf. (Id.) Ransom ultimately negotiated a settlement of the grievance. (See
Settlement Letter, ECF #16-1 at 167-68, Pg. ID 452-53.) The settlement provided
for Martin’s reinstatement to a different position at AK Steel, restoration of certain
seniority rights, and $12,897 in back pay. (See id.)
Martin did not accept the settlement because he believed that the UAW
should have pursued arbitration of his grievance on his behalf. (See Compl., ECF
#1 at 7, Pg. ID 7.) Martin appealed Ransom’s decision to settle his grievance to
the UAW’s Internal Executive Board (the “IEB”). The IEB held an evidentiary
hearing on Martin’s appeal and denied relief in a written decision dated April 30,
2015 (the “IEB Decision”). (See ECF #16-1 at 171-88, Pg. ID 456-73.) The IEB
Decision stated, among other things, that:
Representative Ransom, after a thorough review of the
grievance record, concluded he could not prevail before an
Arbitrator and we see no reason to disagree with that decision.
Based on the case record and testimony received at the
evidentiary hearing, the decision of the National UAW Ford
Department was proper and not devoid of rational basis. In
addition, there is no evidence that collusion with management,
discrimination, or fraud improperly motivated the decision.
(Id. at 188, Pg. ID 473.)
Martin then appealed the IEB Decision to the UAW’s Public Review Board
(PRB), and that board affirmed the decision on September 29, 2015. (See PRB
Decision, ECF #16-1 at 190-203, Pg. ID 475-88.) The PRB found that:
The company’s records confirmed that Martin habitually left
the plant and returned to check out toward the end of his shift.
Time theft is a dischargeable offense. Despite powerful
evidence of Martin’s severe misconduct, Representative
Ransom convinced the Company not only to reinstate him, but
also to pay him a cash settlement. Martin’s response to the
settlement achieved on his behalf is difficult to understand. We
do not know what else Martin hoped to achieve through
arbitration of his grievance. He cannot reasonably have
expected an arbitrator to order a continuation of the practices
that had been discovered in the slab yard.
Nothing in this record supports a conclusion that Martin was
singled out for disparate treatment. Representative Ransom
testified before the IEB that the company’s assessment of
relative fault was reasonable. Martin’s examples of employees
who might have received more severe penalties do not establish
selective application of penalties. These examples would also
have been unlikely to persuade an arbitrator to order Martin’s
reinstatement, particularly in a situation where the company
was less than enthusiastic about having this employee back.
The only basis Martin can assert for relief from this Board is
that Ransom’s decision to settle the grievance was so irrational
it constituted a failure of the union’s duty to represent him. The
record will not support that claim because the settlement
obtained by Representative Ransom was not only rational; it
was excellent under the circumstances. The chance of obtaining
any remedy from an arbitrator was remote in light [of] Martin’s
clear violation of the company’s rules. It was entirely
responsible for the union to decide it would not risk Martin’s
reinstatement in order to pursue arbitration of the kinds of
arguments he has raised.
(Id. at 202-203, Pg. ID 487-88.)
On February 3, 2013, Martin filed suit in this Court against AK Steel and the
UAW under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29
U.S.C. § 185 (hereinafter, “Section 301”). (See Compl., ECF #1 at 4, Pg. ID 4.)
Martin claims that (1) AK Steel wrongfully terminated his employment in violation
of the CBA and (2) the UAW breached its duty of fair representation by pursuing
his wrongful termination grievance against AK Steel in a “perfunctory fashion.”
(Id. at 4-8, Pg. ID 4-8.)1 Martin sets forth his criticisms of the UAW in the
following paragraphs of his Complaint:2
I received a phone call from Reggie Ransom telling me he
would be handling my grievance from that point to its
conclusion. I never met him until after he settled my grievance
and he never asked a single question about my situation. On
our first phone conversation he asked me what I wanted. I told
him I wanted nothing short of arbitration. He told me he would
consider my opinion but that the Union had the final decision.
The next phone call I got from him he told me the offer I had
already rejected was still on the table. Once again I rejected it
and told him all I wanted was for a judge to hear the facts of
the case and decide, no matter what I may possibly lose. A few
months later, out of nowhere, I received another call from
Reggie Ransom telling me he had settled my grievance, and
that the matter was done. He gave no expanation or reasoning
for his decision.
On July 08, 2016, the Court dismissed Martin’s claim against AK Steel. (See ECF
#24.) All that remains is Martin’s breach of the duty of fair representation claim
against the UAW.
The paragraphs are reproduced verbatim (including any typographical errors).
The terms he agreed to were almost identical to the offer I had
twice rejected. The Union told me my only options were to
adhere to the terms of the settlement, or I could appeal his
decision to the International Executive Board (IEB). I appealed
to them and they eventually sided with Reggie Ransom. I then
made my last appeal to the Public Review Board (PRB) who
did the same.
In his briefing to the IEB in response to my appeal, Regie
Ransom claims my case lacked merit. He cites three court
precedents granting the Union leeway in settling grievances,
then one case similar to mine yet under much different
circumstances, a case he himself lost. He also claims I was in
violation of rule twenty five in the Code of Conduct.
What Reggie Ransom, the IEB, and the PRB seem to have
forgotten is that the Union is only granted this great leeway
once minimum standards have been met. They satisfied none
As a Union member in good standing, I had the right to expect
that the CBA be fairly and uniformly administered. If that was
not to be the case. the grievance process was there to protect
against any abuses or inequality in its administration. During
the grievance process, I had the right to expect that an
investigation would be conducted on my behalf, that due
process would be followed, and that it would be conducted
with care as my livelihood and future were at stake.
Reggie Ransom and the UAW cannot claim there was a
rational basis for concluding that my case lacked merit. He
was supposed to conduct an investigation, investigate the facts,
then draw his conclusions based on the particulars on my
individual case. Instead he cites case law and a grievance
unrelated and not germane to my case because he conducted no
investigation whatsoever. And in so doing, Reggie Ransom
did handle my grievance in a perfunctory fashion and did
breach his duty and my right to fair representation.
By citing Rule twenty five, a rule the Company did not claim I
violated, by willfully ignoring the positions of both Local 600
and Region 1A, and being unable to point to a single act they
performed on my behalf, Reggie Ransom and the UAW
International did act against and not for my best interests. For
these reasons Reggie Ransoms decision to settle must be
On April 14, 2016, the UAW moved to dismiss Martin’s claims (the
“Motion to Dismiss”). (See ECF #16.) Martin responded to the Motion to Dismiss
on April 26, 2016. (See ECF #19.) On August 31, 2016, Martin also filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment in which he asks the Court to enter a judgment in his favor
in excess of $1,200,000. (See ECF #31.)
The Court referred the parties’ motions to the assigned Magistrate Judge.
On October, 26 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued the R&R, in which he
recommended that the Court grant the UAW’s motion and deny Martin’s motion.
(See ECF #41.)
The Magistrate Judge determined that “several portions of
Martin’s complaint – as well as documents referenced therein – undermine his
conclusory allegation that the [UAW]’s decision to settle his grievance was
arbitrary.” (Id. at 11, Pg. ID 667.)
On October 31, 2016, Martin filed the
Objections, which consist of ten individually-numbered objections to the R&R.
LEGAL STANDARD GOVERNING REVIEW OF OBJECTIONS
When a party has objected to portions of a Magistrate Judge’s R&R, the
Court reviews those portions de novo. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); see also Lyons
v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 351 F.Supp.2d 659, 661 (E.D. Mich. 2004). The Court has
no duty to conduct an independent review of the portions of the R&R to which a
party has not objected. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985).
LEGAL STANDARDS FOR A MOTION UNDER RULE 12(b)(6)
Rule 12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint when a plaintiff fails to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). “To
survive a motion to dismiss” under Rule 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555). A claim is facially plausible when a plaintiff pleads factual content that
permits a court to reasonably infer that the defendant is liable for the alleged
misconduct. Id. (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). When assessing the sufficiency
of a plaintiff’s claim, a district court must accept all of a complaint's factual
allegations as true. See Ziegler v. IBP Hog Mkt., Inc., 249 F.3d 509, 512 (6th Cir.
2001). “Mere conclusions,” however, “are not entitled to the assumption of truth.
While the Court must liberally construe documents filed by a pro se plaintiff, see
Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972), a complaint filed by such a plaintiff
must still plead sufficiently specific factual allegations, and not just legal
conclusions, in support of each claim. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678–679.
LEGAL STANDARDS GOVERNING A CLAIM UNDER
SECTION 301 OF THE LMRA
“The National Labor Relations Act imposes a duty of fair representation on
unions that are selected as the exclusive representatives of employees in a
bargaining unit.” Renner v. Ford Motor Co., 516 Fed. Appx. 498, 502-03 (6th Cir.
2013) (citation omitted). “This duty is not expressly stated in the statute, but
derives from ‘the union’s status as the employees’ exclusive bargaining
representative.’” Id. (quotation omitted). Section 301 of the Labor-Management
Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, authorizes a union member to bring a claim against
his union for breach of the duty of fair representation.
To prevail on his Section 301 claim against the UAW, Martin must prove
both that AK Steel breached the CBA and that the UAW breached its duty of fair
representation. See DelCostello v. Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters, 462 U.S. 151, 164
(1983). A union breaches its duty of fair representation when its “conduct toward
a member . . . is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.” Vaca v. Sipes, 385 U.S.
171, 190 (1967). “Each of these wrongs is mutually independent, meaning, that
‘the three named factors are three separate and distinct possible routes by which a
union may be found to have breached its duty.” Garrison v. Cassens Transport
Co., 334 F.3d 528, 538 (6th Cir. 2003) (quotation omitted).
Here, Martin is proceeding solely under the theory that the UAW’s decision
to settle his grievance was “arbitrary.” (See Compl., ECF #1 at 8, Pg. ID 8.) In
order to prevail on such a claim of arbitrariness, a union member must establish
that “in light of the factual and legal landscape at the time of the union’s actions,
the union’s behavior [was] so outside ‘a wide range of reasonableness’ as to be
irrational.” Id. (quotation omitted). In reviewing for arbitrariness, the Court’s
“substantive examination of a union’s performance . . . must be highly deferential.”
Air Line Pilots Ass’n Int’l v. O’Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 78. “Mere negligence on the
part of the union does not satisfy this requirement. Moreover, ordinary mistakes,
errors, or flaws in judgment also will not suffice.” Garrison v. Cassens Transport
Co., 334 F.3d 528, 538 (6th Cir. 2003) (internal citations omitted). “Even an
unconsidered decision by the union is not necessarily an irrational decision.” Id at
540 (citing Walk v. P*I*E Nationwide, Inc. 958 F.2d 1323, 1326 (6th Cir. 1992.)).
Finally, “[u]nion representatives are not held to the same standard as lawyers.”
Baker v. Lear Corp., 2016 WL 4493669, at *8 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 26, 2016) (citing
Garrison, 334 F.3d at 539).
Martin has raised a number of specific objections which the Court addresses
below. Before turning to those objections, the Court explains why Martin has
failed to state a plausible claim that the UAW acted arbitrarily when it settled his
Martin’s initial complaint here is that the UAW settled his grievance even
though he unequivocally expressed his desire to arbitrate. Martin highlights that he
“told [Ransom] that I wanted nothing short of arbitration” and that he repeated to
Ransom that “all I wanted was for a judge to hear the facts of the case and decide,
no matter what I may possibly lose.” (ECF #1 at 7, Pg. ID 7; emphasis added.)3
But the Supreme Court has flatly rejected the notion that a union member has an
“absolute right” to have his union pursue his grievance. See Vaca v. Sipes, 386
U.S. 171, 190-91 (1967). Thus, Martin’s allegations that the UAW settled his
grievance against his wishes, standing alone, does not state a plausible claim for
relief under Section 301.
The few other specific factual allegations in Martin’s Complaint likewise
fall far short of stating a plausible claim against the union. Martin alleges that
Ransom conducted “no investigation” into his grievance, but the materials
Martin now says that he “understand[s] [that he] did not have an absolute right to
have [his] grievance taken to arbitration, and that the Union had to take all factors
into account when deciding whether or not to settle or proceed with [his] case.”
(Objections, ECF #42 at 5, Pg. ID 674.) Martin says he simply “assumed it would
be done in a fair and thoughtful manner.” (Id.) Martin’s newfound recognition that
he could not force the UAW to arbitrate his grievance does not save his Complaint
because, as described below, he has not plausibly alleged that the UAW acted
arbitrarily or that, in his words, the UAW failed to act “in a fair and thoughtful
referenced in Martin’s own Complaint – which this Court may consider in the
context of a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), See In re Omnicare, Inc. Sec. Litig., 769
F.3d 455, 466 (6th Cir. 2014) – belie that allegation.4 For instance, the IEB
Decision rejecting Martin’s appeal identifies testimony from Ransom concerning
the content of (1) the employer’s “‘Time Card Analysis’ from June 1, 2012 to
March 9, 2013,” (2) “Payroll Summaries from June 1, 2012 to March 8, 2013,” and
(3) “Transactions into the plant via ‘Reader Description’ from June 1, 2012 to
March 9, 2013.” (See IEB Decision, ECF #16-1 at 187, Pg. ID 472.) Moreover,
the IEB Decision identifies Ransom’s testimony about “previous arbitration cases
and [Martin’s] disciplinary record….” (Id.) Ransom could not have provided
information concerning the content of the records and the prior cases unless he had
conducted at least some review of them. Indeed, Martin admits that Ransom
investigated and considered the prior cases; Martin simply takes issue with
Ransom’s assessment of the prior cases. (See Compl., ECF #1 at 7, Pg. ID 7.)
Thus, the record available to the Court proves the falsity of Martin’s allegation that
Ransom conducted “no investigation.”
And even if Ransom had failed to investigate and develop a factual record
against which to assess Martin’s claim (which he did not), the materials available
to the Court make clear that the IEB and PRB – the entities that made the
Martin’s Complaint references the decisions of the IEB and PRB affirming
Ransom’s decision to settle the grievance. (See Compl., ECF #1 at 7, Pg. ID 7.)
penultimate and ultimate decision that the UAW would not pursue arbitration of
Martin’s grievance – made their decisions based upon a developed factual record.
In fact, the IEB heard testimony from Martin and permitted Martin to introduce
documentary evidence in support of his claims, and the PRB considered that
testimony and evidence.5 (See IEB Decision at 7, ECF # 16-1 at Pg. ID 462; PRB
Decision at 8, ECF 16-1 at Pg. ID 482). Given that the IEB gave Martin an
opportunity to include in the record whatever facts and evidence he deemed
relevant, Martin cannot plausibly complain that the UAW’s ultimate decision not
to pursue arbitration was made without any inquiry into the pertinent facts.
Moreover, the IEB and PRB decisions refer to other evidence in the record – such
as Martin’s inculpatory admissions to an AK Steel representative (see, e.g., PRB
Decision at 1-3, ECF #16-1 at Pg. ID 475-77) – and the references to such
evidence further demonstrate the implausibility of Martin’s charge that the UAW
conducted “no investigation” into his grievance.
Finally, Martin complains that during the internal appeal process to the IEB
and PRB, Ransom said that Martin had violated “rule twenty five in the
[employer’s] Code of Conduct,” (Compl., ECF #1 at 7, Pg. ID 7), when, in fact,
Martin was accused of violating a different rule. (See Objections, ECF #42 at 3-4,
The IEB held its evidentiary hearing on December 1, 2014, in Taylor, Michigan.
(IEB Decision at 1, ECF #16-1 at Pg. ID 456.) Martin attended and brought a
supporting witness with him. (Id.)
Pg. ID 672-73.) The rule that Martin was actually accused of violating was a rule
prohibiting the theft of time. (See ECF #16-1 at 186, Pg. ID 471.) However, when
the IEB and the PRB affirmed Ransom’s decision to settle Martin’s grievance, they
well understood that Martin had been accused of “theft of time.” (See IEB
Decision, ECF #16-1 at 172, Pg. ID 457; PRB Decision, ECF #16-1 at 202-03, Pg.
Thus, even if Ransom erroneously referenced the incorrect rule
number from the employer’s code of conduct, the IEB and PRB correctly
understood the gist of the allegations against Martin, and any error by Ransom had
no effect on the union’s ultimate decision to affirm Ransom’s decision to settle.
Martin cannot show that Ransom’s misidentification of the relevant rule so “tainted
the grievance procedure such that the outcome was more than likely affected,” and,
for that reason, Martin cannot state a plausible Section 301 claim based upon the
alleged citation error. See Dushaw v. Roadway Express, 66 F.3d 129, 132 (6th Cir.
1995) (holding that in order to prevail on a Section 301 claim, a plaintiff must
show that union’s alleged breach more than likely affected the outcome of the
Simply put, the written decisions of the IEB and PRB affirming Ransom’s
decision to settle Martin’s grievance definitively refute Martin’s conclusory
allegation that the UAW acted arbitrarily. The decisions reveal that the UAW
carefully considered and weighed a number of entirely appropriate factors –
including Martin’s inculpatory statements to AK Steel, the favorable terms of the
settlement, and the low likelihood of success at an arbitration hearing – and
reasonably concluded that these factors supported Ransom’s decision to settle the
grievance. This deliberative process is the opposite of an arbitrary action. In short,
on the record that is properly before this Court, Martin cannot plausibly allege that
the UAW acted arbitrarily.
Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge correctly
recommended that the Court should dismiss Martin’s claim against the union.
The Court now turns to Martin’s specific objections. None have merit. The
Court reproduces below each of Martin’s individually-numbered objections
verbatim (including any typographical errors). The Court then explains why it is
overruling each objection.
Objection #1 reads:
On page 2 of his ruling, [Magistrate Judge] Grand recites the
charge that "Martin and other hourly employees were engaged
in a theft of time scheme" and that we left the plant "in the
middle of our shift only to return minutes before the shift
ended". I have shown that the CBA clearly states that we were
entitled to relief, at our own discretion, provided that it did not
affect operations. Furthermore, I have shown that by the
nature of my job, crane time at the end of my shift after I had
met my production quota was the most opportune time for me
to take relief. I did not leave in the middle of the shift, and the
company never proved otherwise. The company had proof that
those with drive in passes were gone for hours a day, every
day, but chose not to fire them since their jobs weren't slated to
be replaced by a machine.
(ECF #42 at 2, Pg. ID 671.)
This objection relates to a single sentence in the factual background section
of the R&R in which the Magistrate Judge is simply describing the reason given by
AK Steel for Martin’s termination. This sentence from the R&R does not relate to
the Magistrate Judge’s analysis of the plausibility of Martin’s claim that the UAW
acted arbitrarily, and it is that analysis on which this Court must focus in
determining whether to accept the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to dismiss.
Moreover, while this objection asserts Martin’s view that AK Steel erred
when it fired him, it does not focus on whether the UAW acted arbitrarily when it
decided to settle. For instance, the objection says nothing about the issues and
factors that the UAW considered and says nothing about the process undertaken by
For these reasons, this objection does not establish that the Court should
reject the R&R or that the Court should deny the Motion to Dismiss. Accordingly,
Objection #1 is OVERRULED.
Objection #2 reads:
On page 3 of his ruling, [Magistrate Judge] Grand quotes
the IEB decision when he states that "Martin maintained
that he had permission to leave the plant" and the
company denied that was the case. What does the
collective bargaining agreement say? Shouldn't the CBA
have been the deciding factor in this dispute, since it is
binding on all parties? Again, it states we could take our
relief at our discretion provided it did not affect
operations. I lived up to its' requirements yet was still
terminated, while the UAW did fail to have the CBA
(ECF #42 at 2-3, Pg. ID 671-72.)
This objection is similar to Objection #1 in that it (1) focuses on a single
sentence from the R&R quoting a document in the record and (2) does not
demonstrate any arbitrary conduct by the UAW. While this objection does contain
a passing reference to the UAW’s conduct, it is a wholly-conclusory reference that
lacks any specific factual allegations that, if proven, would establish that the UAW
Accordingly, the Court OVERRULES Objection #2 for the same reasons
that it overruled Objection #1.
Objection #3 reads:
On page 4 [Magistrate Judge] Grand again quotes from
the Union "the IEB was persuaded by Ransom's
conclusion that employees were disciplined based on the
severity of the alleged infraction" while on page 7 he
writes that I "must show that the Union's actions or
omissions tainted the grievance procedure such that the
outcome was more than likely affected by the Union's
breach." Since the IEB was persuaded by Ransom, and
Ransom deliberately misrepresented the facts of my case;
citing a rule I was never charged with; how is that not
proof of the Union's breach of its duty of fair
representation as well as proof that the entire appeals
process was tainted? How could it not taint the appeals
process, when it altered the very nature of my case?
(ECF #42 at 3, Pg. ID 672.)
This objection focuses on Ransom’s citation of the wrong rule. But as
explained in detail above, that misidentification was not material to the
proceedings before the UAW because both the IEB and PRB accurately understood
the basis on which AK Steel fired Martin – for theft of time, not for a violation of
the specific rule misidentified by Ransom.6
Accordingly, Objection #3 is
Objection #4 reads:
In his ruling, [Magistrate Judge] Grand states there is "no
factual support for" my "conclusory allegation" that the
Union handled my grievance in a perfunctory manner
and that "notably absent from Martin's complaint... are
any factual allegations regarding how his grievance was
handled in a perfunctory fashion, or why the decision to
settle his grievance was either arbitrary or irrational."
Apparently Grand did not read Exhibit P, which I
included in my response to the Union's clarification
letter, which occurred after he granted their motion but
before I knew he interjected himself. It shows in the
The Court also notes that Martin does not allege in his Complaint that Ransom
deliberately misidentified the rule under which AK Steel fired him, nor does
Martin make any specific factual allegations from which a deliberate intent to
misidentify could be inferred.
Union's own words their "reason and the contractual
basis for the settlement." They then list Rule 25 as the
sole reason for settlement, a rule I was never charged
Apparently Grand believes a deliberate
misrepresentation is not a breach of the Union's duty of
fair representation, and that such a deliberate
misrepresentation is well within the "wide range of
reasonableness afforded to unions in grievance
handling", shows good faith, and provides a rational basis
for settlement! The Union settled because they could,
irrespective of the merits of my case or what was in my
best interests. That is perfunctory handling of my
grievance, and the decision to settle is arbitrary.
(ECF #42 at 3-4, Pg. ID 672-73.)
Like Objection #3, this objection relates, in part, to the misidentification of
the rule under which AK Steel fired Martin, and the Court overrules this objection
for the same reason that it overruled Objection #3.
The Court adds that Martin’s suggestion that the Magistrate Judge did not
read “Exhibit P” is demonstrably false.
“Exhibit P” is the first page of a
memorandum from UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles (“Settles”) to the IEB (the
“Settles Memorandum”). (See ECF #40 at 6, Pg. ID 654.) A review of the R&R
indicates that the Magistrate Judge read the entire Settles Memorandum (not just
the first page) and concluded that Settles put forth a detailed rationale in support of
the UAW’s decision to settle Martin’s grievance. (See R&R, ECF #41 at 10, Pg.
Finally, Martin’s allegation of “perfunctory” conduct by the UAW in this
objection is wholly conclusory and not supported by any specific factual
allegations that, if proven, would establish that the UAW’s investigation and
analysis of Martin’s grievance was insufficient and/or arbitrary.
Accordingly, Objection #4 is OVERRULED.
Objection #5 reads:
Over and over again [Magistrate Judge] Grand takes
excerpts from my grievance process to justify his ruling,
accepting the Union's words as fact. Yet when I cite the
exact same source material, my complaints are dismissed
"on grounds that it fails to comport sufficiently with
basic pleading requirements." I fail to see how my
complaint is not accepted as plausible when it is based on
intra Union memos or how deliberate misrepresentation
does not make the Union liable for misconduct.
(ECF #42 at 4, Pg. ID 673.)
This objection misses the point of the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that
Martin failed to plead a plausible claim. The Magistrate Judge did not fault Martin
for relying on any particular source material. Instead, he faulted Martin for not
pleading sufficient specific facts to support a plausible claim that the UAW acted
Accordingly, the Court OVERRULES Objections #5.
Objection #6 reads:
On page 7 [Magistrate Judge] Grand quotes the Sixth
Circuit on arbitrary conduct. He cites how "ordinary
mistakes, errors or flaws in judgement...will not suffice."
Then on the same page he states how a "tactical decision
. . . is not a breach of the duty of fair representation.'' If a
tactical decision to deliberately misrepresent a grievant is
not a breach, what in the world is?
(ECF #42 at 4, Pg. ID 673.)
Like Objections #3 and #4, this objection rests on Martin’s allegation that
Ransom cited the wrong rule when describing why AK Steel terminated his
(Martin’s) employment. This objection is overruled for the same reasons that the
prior objections were overruled. (See also footnote 5, supra.)
Accordingly, Objection #6 is OVERRULED.
Objection #7 reads:
On page 8 [Magistrate Judge] Grand chronicles the
stages of my grievance procedure as proof the Union
satisfied its duty of fair representation. What it really
shows is that at the lower levels of the process, the Union
supported my position. Reggie Ransom settled my
grievance claiming it lacked merit shortly after UAW
International accepted it and assigned it to him believing
it was a meritorious grievance.
(ECF #42 at 4, Pg. ID 673.)
Here, Martin fails to make a specific objection to the R&R. Moreover, even
if the UAW initially supported Martin’s grievance at lower levels of the grievance
process, this would not establish that the IEB and/or PRB acted arbitrarily when –
after an evidentiary hearing and further development of the facts and issues – they
later affirmed the decision to settle the grievance.
Accordingly, Objection #7 is OVERRULED.
Objection #8 reads:
On the same page [the Magistrate Judge] cites the Union
position about how Ransom's settlement were "by any
objective measure...favorable to Martin under the
circumstances." If you were fired based on an allegation,
while others whom the company had proof against were
not fired, would you feel you were fired for just cause? I
refused the settlement because I refuse to be held to a
different standard and refuse to accept being called a
thief. There was no "theft of time scheme." The Union
and Magistrate Grand tout the term "restoration of full
seniority." It is misleading. Plant seniority means
nothing. The only thing that matters inside the plant was
date of entry on your job. Since the settlement called for
us to have a different job within the plant, we lost our
bids, essentially starting over.
If you saw some
employees the company knew were gone for hours a day
only get suspended, and get to keep their jobs; while you
are fired on an allegation and forced to start over, would
any objective observer feel the results were in their
favor? Had the company treated everyone the same,
there would have been no disparate treatment. Had there
been no disparate treatment, the CBA would have been
enforced equally. Had I been treated equally, I would not
have a legitimate grievance.
But I was treated
differently, and held to a different standard. And so I do
have a legitimate grievance. I thought the Union would
be there to ensure my rights, as I thought that was the
sole purpose of the Union. I kept good faith through the
entire appeals process. I understand I did not have an
absolute right to have my grievance taken to arbitration,
and that the Union had to take all factors into account
when deciding whether or not to settle or proceed with
my case. But I assumed it would be done in a fair and
thoughtful manner. I never would have suspected they
would ignore my grievance and settle just because thats
[sic] what was in their best interests; then misrepresent
the facts of my case and cite case law telling me they can
do whatever they want.
(ECF #42 at 4-5, Pg. ID 673.)
Here, Martin fails to make a specific objection to the R&R. Likewise, he
fails to identify any facts showing that the UAW acted arbitrarily. He primarily
criticizes the actions of AK Steel and makes conclusory assertions that the UAW
“ignored” his grievance – an assertion that is flatly contradicted by the materials
before the Court.
Accordingly, Objection #8 is OVERRULED.
Objection #9 reads:
[Magistrate Judge] Grand says that there are "no facts
that are missing" that "would have surfaced during a new
investigation" and that by my own admission I do "not
allege the Ransom ignored, overlooked, or failed to
follow up on any new information provided by Martin."
I most certainly do. As I have already shown, in the case
of Grievant Walker (Exhibit F) which Reggie Ransom
uses as his excuse for justify his actions, Reggie Ransom
was the Union Rep assigned to handle the Walker case.
Walker had a drive in pass, allowing the company to
know when he left and reentered the plant. Having
received the case record where an entire department was
accused of time theft, Ransom could have simply asked
the company if any of the employees had gate passes.
Then he would have seen the disparate punishment meted
out by the company. But he couldn't even bring himself
to ask a single question on my behalf, and did ignore
information that would have at this point been favorable
to those whose grievances had been entrusted to his care.
His failure at this stage to do a single act on our behalf
most certainly altered the outcome of my grievance since
he knew firsthand that Walker was fired because of the
proof the company had against him because of his drive
in pass. He could have at this point had the CBA and the
punishments equally enforced, but chose to do nothing.
That is the definition of perfunctory handling of a
(ECF #42 at 6, Pg. ID 675.)
Objection #9 is not clearly written, but it appears that Martin is making the
following multi-step argument: (1) in a past arbitration case involving a “Grievant
Walker,” AK Steel relied upon “gate pass” records to prove that Walker engaged
in theft of time, (2) in this case, Ransom failed to investigate whether Martin and
the other employees in his department who were terminated for theft of time used a
“gate pass” or “drive in pass,” and (3) such an investigation would have revealed
that AK Steel did not have “gate pass” evidence in its case against Martin and the
other employees in his department. (See ECF #42 at 6, Pg. ID 675.)7
The Court rejects this argument. Even if Ransom did not request “gate pass
records,” the UAW’s decision to settle Martin’s grievance was based on other
“powerful evidence of Martin’s severe misconduct” such as “company records
[that] confirmed that Martin habitually left the plant and returned to check out
toward the end of his shift.” (ECF #16-1 at 202, Pg. ID 487.) Martin offers no
support for his apparent assertion that AK Steel could not have fired him for theft
of time without the type of “gate pass” evidence it had against Grievant Walker.
Finally, the Court notes that the UAW was not required to exhaust every possible
angle of investigation before settling Martin’s case. See Blesedell v. Chillicothe,
811 F.3d 211, 220-21 (6th Cir. 2016) (“The duty of fair representation requires a
union to undertake a reasonable investigation to defend a union member, not an
error-free” or “perfect investigation.”). Martin has not persuaded the Court that the
UAW’s investigation was unreasonable on the ground that it did not request “gate
Accordingly, the Court OVERRULES Objection #9.
Martin made an identical argument in his response to the Motion to Dismiss. (See
ECF #19 at 4, Pg. ID 533.)
Objection #10 reads:
On page 10 [Magistrate Judge] Grand states that "Martin
never denied that he left the premises or that he was paid
for time not worked." Yes I have. I have repeatedly
stated that nowhere in the case record does the company
ever state that I did not meet my daily quota or otherwise
perform my job to the best of my ability. They suffered
no injury. As for leaving the premises, I have already
shown that that was permissible under the CBA.
(ECF #42 at 6, Pg. ID 675.)
In this objection, Martin mischaracterizes the quote from the R&R. The
Magistrate Judge did not contend that “Martin never denied that he left the
premises or that he was not paid for time not worked.” Instead, the Magistrate
Judge was describing one rationale put forth in the Settles Memorandum in support
of settlement: “Vice President Jimmy Settles noted that, as to culpability, during
the processing of the grievance, Martin never denied that he had left the premises
or that he was paid for work not performed.” (R&R, ECF #41 at 10, Pg. ID 666.)
Moreover, even in this objection, Martin fails to “deny” that he left company
premises or that he was paid for time not worked. Instead, he attempts to justify
his actions by arguing that he met his daily quota, that AK Steel was not harmed,
and that the CBA allowed him to leave. At most these arguments go to the merits
of his grievance. He fails to put forth any specific argument or facts that show that
the UAW’s decision to settle was arbitrary.
Accordingly, Objection #10 is OVERRULED.
For the reasons stated above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Martin’s Objections (ECF #42) to the R&R (ECF #41) are
The Magistrate Judge’s recommended disposition in the R&R is
The UAW’s Motion to Dismiss (ECF #16) is GRANTED;
Martin’s claims against the UAW are DISMISSED; and
Martin’s Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF #31) is DENIED.
s/Matthew F. Leitman
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: February 16, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon the parties
and/or counsel of record on February 16, 2017, by electronic means and/or
s/Holly A. Monda
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