Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Wiggins v. United Food and Commercial Workers Union

October 30, 2006

ALFONSO GREEN WIGGINS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL #56, ANTHONY R. CINAGLIA, JACK SWIFT, HEINZ NORTH AMERICA, AND WILLIAM H. MCNEECE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jerome B. Simandle

OPINION

SIMANDLE, District Judge:

This case arises out of the decision by Heinz North America ("Heinz") and United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local # 56 ("Local 56")*fn1 to eliminate five third shift sanitation positions (including the job of plaintiff Alfonso G. Wiggins ("Plaintiff")) at the Heinz plant in Pennsauken, New Jersey. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants - his union and his employer - breached the Collective Bargaining Agreement between Heinz and Local 56 and that Local 56 breached its duty of fair representation of all union employees. This matter is before the Court upon the motions for summary judgment by: (1) Plaintiff; (2) Defendant Local 56; and (3) Defendants Heinz and William H. McNeece. Plaintiff's Complaint suffers from procedural and substantive defects and, therefore, the Court will grant Defendants' motions for summary judgment and deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

The facts giving rise to this action are largely undisputed. Plaintiff is Alfonso G. Wiggins. Until September 10, 2004, Plaintiff worked the third shift as a sanitation worker at Heinz North America's plant in Pennsauken, New Jersey. While employed at Heinz, Plaintiff was a member of Defendant United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local #56.

In 2004, Heinz determined that it could save a substantial amount of money by outsourcing the third shift sanitation operations. (Declaration of Cathi DeMarco at ¶ 3.) Members of Heinz's management had discussions with Local 56 regarding the possibility of discontinuing third shift sanitation operations on two occasions in July 2004. (Id. at ¶ 4-6.) During these meetings, Local 56 agreed that, under Articles III (Management Rights) and XXXIII (Severance) of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in place between the parties, Heinz was permitted to discontinue the third shift. (Id. at 6; Heinz Br. at Ex. 1 (Collective Bargaining Agreement) at 3, 23.)*fn2

On August 6, 2004, Heinz management held a meeting with employees of the third shift sanitation crew (including Plaintiff) and informed them that Heinz was discontinuing the third shift sanitation operations. (Demarco Decl. at ¶ 7.) At the meeting, these employees were provided an overview of their severance options under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and instructed to contact Heinz's human resources department if they wished to bid on job openings working sanitation for the first shift. (Id. at ¶ 8.)*fn3 In a memo addressed to all Heinz employees dated August 10, 2004, plant manager McNeece informed all employees about the August 6, 2004 meeting. (Heinz Br. at Ex. 2, Memo from William McNeece, dated 8/10/2004; DeMarco Decl. ¶ 9.) On September 2, 2004, a representative from Heinz's human resources department reviewed with Plaintiff an August 31, 2004 letter that informed Plaintiff that he (1) was being permanently laid off based on Heinz's reduction in work force; (2) was eligible for ten weeks of severance pay; and (3) had agreed to accept three months continuation of medical benefits. (Heinz Br. at Ex. 3, Letter from Cathi DeMarco, dated 8/31/2004.)

On September 10, 2004, Plaintiff filed a grievance with Local 56 alleging that Heinz "breached the Collective Bargaining Agreement when the company eliminated all the union-employees jobs in the sanitation department and substituted them with nonunion...workers which forced the union-employees to either bid on other jobs in the plant or have their employment terminated." (Heinz Br. at Ex. 4, Plaintiff's Grievance.) On September 14, 2004, Heinz denied Plaintiff's grievance as untimely and reminded Plaintiff that the grievance procedure outlined in Article XXIII of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (Grievance Procedure and Arbitration) requires that an employee's grievance be presented: to the employee's immediate supervisor for adjustment within forty-eight (48) hours of when the employee should have knowledge of the event complained of, but no later than seventy-two (72) hours of the event complained of. (Collective Bargaining Agreement at 17-18; Heinz Br. at Ex. 5.) Heinz stated that notice of Plaintiff's termination was provided on August 6, 2004 but Plaintiff failed to file his grievance until September 10, 2004. The reply to Plaintiff's grievance also stated that, on September 2, 2004, Plaintiff met with a member of Heinz's human resources department who informed Plaintiff that Plaintiff's last day of employment would be September 10, 2004. (Id.) In a letter to Heinz's human resources department dated September 15, 2004, Local 56's business representative Jack Swift acknowledged the denial of Plaintiff's grievance. (Heinz's Br. at Ex. 6.) Plaintiff took no additional action regarding this case until he filed the present lawsuit.

B. Procedural History

On December 10, 2004, Plaintiff filed a complaint claiming that (1) both Heinz and Local 56 breached the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185 and (2) Local 56 breached its duty of fair representation to all union members (the "Complaint.") In compliance with U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio's scheduling order, Local 56 filed a motion for summary judgment on April 10, 2006. Heinz filed their motion for summary judgment on May 1, 2006 and Plaintiff filed his motion for summary judgment on May 12, 2006.*fn4 Local 56 filed a brief in opposition to Plaintiff's motion on May 19 and Heinz filed a letter brief in opposition on May 22, 2006. Plaintiff did not file a reply brief.

II. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD OF REVIEW

Both Defendants and Plaintiff moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P. A court may grant summary judgment when the materials of record "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); see Lang v. New York Life Ins. Co., 721 F.2d 118, 119 (3d Cir. 1983). A dispute is "genuine" if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A fact is "material" only if it might affect the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.