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Engo Co. v. New Jersey Carpenters Fund

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

January 21, 2014

ENGO COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW JERSEY CARPENTERS FUND & NORTHEAST REGIONAL COUNCIL OF CARPENTERS, Defendants.

OPINION

JOSE L. LINARES, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court by way of Defendants New Jersey Carpenter Funds (the "Funds") and Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (the "Union") (collectively "Defendants")'s motion to dismiss Plaintiff Engo Company ("Plaintiff" or "Engo")'s complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).[1] The Court has considered the submissions made in support of, and in opposition to, Defendants' motion and decides this matter without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motion is granted. Engo's complaint is dismissed in its entirety without prejudice to Engo's right to seek relief from this Court when and if it ultimately establishes federal subject matter jurisdiction.

I. BACKGROUND[2]

This action stems from Engo's allegations that, pursuant to a Collective Bargaining Agreement ("CBA") between it and the Union, it is not obligated to make contributions to employee welfare and pension funds on behalf of certain of its employees.

A. The Parties

Engo is a New Jersey Company which manufactures display cases and shelves. ( See Compl. at ¶ 6.) The Funds are multi-employer pension and welfare trust funds. ( See id. at ¶ 7.) The Union represented Engo's employees in negotiating the terms of various Collective Bargaining Agreements ("CBAs") into which Engo and the Union entered, which required Engo to make contributions to the Funds on behalf of union employees. ( See id. at ¶¶ 9-10.)

B. The Parties' Obligations under the CBA

Engo and the Union signed the most recent and final Collective Bargaining Agreement (the "CBA") on June 12, 2007. (CBA at 11.) That CBA was effective from June 1, 2007 through May 31, 2010. (CBA at ¶ 1-1.) The CBA required Engo to "pay monthly to the New Jersey Carpenters Welfare [and] Pension Fund[s]... for each Union employee, for all hours worked..." (CBA at ¶¶ 5-1; 6-1.)

The dispute resolution provision of the CBA provides that:

[a]ll disputes or complaints of whether character [sic] if not adjusted by the subordinates involved, shall be referred to the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters, Executive Secretary Treasurer (EST) or his designee and the Employer or his direct representative for settlement.... If the parties are unable to agree on any settlement, the dispute shall be arbitrated equitably and accordingly to the alternative dispute resolution process established in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the New Jersey Regional [sic] of Carpenters and the Building Contractors Association of New Jersey.

(CBA at Art. XIII) (emphasis added.)

The CBA between the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters and the Building Contractors Association of New Jersey (hereinafter the "BCANJ Agreement"), which is incorporated by reference in Article XIII of the CBA, sets forth two separate alternative dispute resolution mechanisms at Article XVIII and Article XXVI. The relevant text of Articles XVIII and XXVI, respectively, is set forth below:

All questions or grievances involving the interpretation and application of this [BCANJ] Agreement, other than trade jurisdictional disputes... shall be handled under the following procedures:
... If the parties are unable to affect an amicable settlement or adjustment of any grievance or controversy, such grievance or controversy shall be submitted to binding arbitration under the Expedited Rules of the American Arbitration Association at the request of either party providing notice in writing of the intent to do so is given through the other party and the American Arbitration Association... One of the following three Arbitrators (J.J. Pierson, Wellington Davis or Steven M. Wolf) shall be ...

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