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Becker v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

February 3, 2014

Mark R. Becker; Richard G. Adams; Liphrino Alcenat; Robert R. Auren; David R. Balderas; Carl J. Bartell; Greg H. Barthol; Albert G. Bauer; Jeffery R. Begin; Patrick K. Belair; Matthew A. Benson; David J. Boas; William F. Boeck; Paul C. Bollmann; Rick A. Braatz; Thomas E. Brooks; Michael P. Burback; Matthew D. Calmer; Richard O. Charnell; Douglas S. Coffey; John D. Crist; David W. Danneker; Donald R. Deiman; James A. Eggert; Brian C. Engle; Raymond Fellows; Ronald C. Fideldy; Michael Figgins; Thomas J. Foster; Doug R. Franco; Daniel L. Freiling; Ruben A. Fuentes; Michael L. Gatlin; Terry J. Glynn; Jeffrey D. Hamlin; Mark A. Hansen; David A. Hehling; Todd M. Hellevik; Dennis L. Helling; Michael E. Hiber; John P. Hiniker; Eric D. Holscher; Daniel D. Howells; Ronald D. Hoyhtya; Terry P. Huettl; Dean M. Huhta; Anthony J. Jansen; Paul F. Jansen; Anthony J. Jasseh; Xavier U. Jones; Thomas R. Kasper; Jeff A. Klemenhagen; Chris W. Klingelhoets; Brian P. Klotz; Shawn L. Koehler; Steven E. Koetz; John P. Koralesky; James Krager; Michael G. Kremer; James C. Kroschel; Edin N. Kucanin; Scott A. Larson; Timothy A. Locker; Jason C. Long; Juan P. Macias; Craig A. Manderfeld; Jeffrey T. Melson; Jeffrey Michael; Keith F. Miller; Jeffrey P. Olson; Mark E. Perron; James C. Radford; James C. Rodriguez; Jesse Rodriguez; James A. Roy; Terrance P. Ryan; Charles A. Sadler; Jeffrey H. Sampson; Patrick J. Samuelson; William A. Satchel; Dale E. Schipp; Dennis E. Schroeder; Gary D. Sendek; Ron W. Snyder; Michael T. Sporcic; Karimu Surajc; Kevin C. Thompson; Rodney G. Umbriet; Joseph R. Vandenheuvel; Nick E. Wahlgren; Charles E. Walker; Wayne K. Warnke; Ben C. Webber; David A. Westlund; Rick A. Wilbur; Charles Young, Jr., Plaintiffs - Appellants
International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120, Defendant - Appellee

Submitted October 24, 2013.

Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Minnesota - Minneapolis.

For Mark R. Becker, Richard G. Adams, Liphrino Alcenat, Robert R. Auren, David R. Balderas, Carl J. Bartell, Greg H. Barthol, Albert G. Bauer, Jeffery R. Begin, Patrick K. Belair, Matthew A. Benson, David J. Boas, William F. Boeck, Paul C. Bollmann, Rick A. Braatz, Thomas E. Brooks, Michael P. Burback, Matthew D. Calmer, Richard O. Charnell, Douglas S. Coffey, John D. Crist, David W. Danneker, Donald R. Deiman, James A. Eggert, Brian C. Engle, Raymond Fellows, Ronald C. Fideldy, Michael Figgins, Thomas J. Foster, Doug R. Franco, Daniel L. Freiling, Ruben A. Fuentes, Michael L. Gatlin, Terry J. Glynn, Jeffrey D. Hamlin, Mark A. Hansen, David A. Hehling, Todd M. Hellevik, Dennis L. Helling, Michael E. Hiber, John P. Hiniker, Eric D. Holscher, Daniel D. Howells, Ronald D. Hoyhtya, Terry P. Huettl, Dean M. Huhta, Anthony J. Jansen, Paul F. Jansen, Anthony J. Jasseh, Xavier U. Jones, Thomas R. Kasper, Jeff A. Klemenhagen, Chris W. Klingelhoets, Brian P. Klotz, Shawn L. Koehler, Steven E. Koetz, John P. Koralesky, James Krager, Michael G. Kremer, James C. Kroschel, Edin N. Kucanin, Scott A. Larson, Timothy A. Locker, Jason C. Long, Juan P. Macias, Craig A. Manderfeld, Jeffrey T. Melson, Jeffrey Michael, Keith F. Miller, Jeffrey P. Olson, Mark E. Perron, James C. Radford, James C. Rodriguez, Jesse Rodriguez, James A. Roy, Terrance P. Ryan, Charles A. Sadler, Jeffrey H. Sampson, Patrick J. Samuelson, William A. Satchel, Dale E. Schipp, Dennis E. Schroeder, Gary D. Sendek, Ron W. Snyder, Michael T. Sporcic, Karimu Surajc, Kevin C. Thompson, Rodney G. Umbriet, Joseph R. Vandenheuvel, Nick E. Wahlgren, Charles E. Walker, Wayne K. Warnke, Ben C. Webber, David A. Westlund, Rick A. Wilbur, Charles Young, Jr., Plaintiffs - Appellants: Brian N. Niemczyk, Marshall H. Tanick, HELLMUTH & JOHNSON, Edina, MN.

For International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120, Defendant - Appellee: Martin J. Costello, Katrina E. Joseph, TEAMSTERS LOCAL 120, Blaine, MN.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, COLLOTON and KELLY, Circuit Judges.


Page 331

RILEY, Chief Judge.

Mark Becker and other union members (Becker or appellants) sued their former employer, U.S. Foodservice, Inc. (U.S. Foods), and International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 120 (Union) in a hybrid action under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, for breach of duty of fair representation. The district court[1] dismissed the complaint against U.S. Foods for failure to state a claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) and later granted the Union's motion for summary judgment because Becker's claim was time-barred. Becker appeals the grant of summary judgment only. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.


In August 2008, U.S. Foods announced it would close its Eagan, Minnesota, facility, where appellants were employed. A month later, the Union filed a grievance against U.S. Foods seeking to bar the closure. The Union and U.S. Foods began negotiating concerning the closure of the Eagan facility. The Union ostensibly attempted to negotiate an agreement whereby the Eagan employees would transfer without loss of seniority or pension to another facility in Plymouth, Minnesota.

Page 332

On November 3, 2008, the Union and U.S. Foods reached a tentative " Facility Closure Agreement" to settle the grievance. The tentative agreement was contingent upon approval by both the Central States Pension Plan, which covered the employees of the Eagan facility, and the Minneapolis Food Distributing Industry Pension Plan (MFPP), which covered the employees of the Plymouth facility. The six trustees of the MFPP, three of whom were also Union officials, met by telephone two days later and rejected the Facility Closure Agreement. The next day, the Union wrote to U.S. Foods to inform it of the rejection. With no agreement, any employee moving from Eagan to Plymouth would lose all seniority and pension benefits and be treated as a new hire.

On November 12, 2008, U.S. Foods informed the Eagan employees the MFPP trustees had rejected the tentative Facility Closure Agreement. A few days later, U.S. Foods told the Eagan employees they could transfer to the Plymouth facility as new hires. On December 9, 2008, a number of the displaced Eagan employees, including Becker, filed an unfair labor practices charge against the Union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging the Union " has failed to fairly represent [Eagan employees] by engaging in negotiations with [US Foods] designed to serve interests other than the represented employees." Four days later, U.S. Foods fired 146 of the Eagan employees. On February 10, 2009, the NLRB dismissed the unfair labor practices charge against the Union, stating, " Based on our investigation, there is insufficient evidence of a violation." Becker's appeal of the NLRB dismissal was denied.

Early in 2009, appellants hired legal counsel to " insist[] that the union pursue a grievance and arbitration on our behalf." The Union agreed to pursue the Eagan employees' claims against U.S. Foods " through the grievance-arbitration provision of the collective bargaining agreement." After five days of hearings, on July 9, 2010, the arbitrator issued a decision and award denying the Union's grievance against U.S. Foods. Less than six months later, on December 30, 2010, many of the former Eagan employees filed suit ...

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