United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Matthew Nagel, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 653, Defendant.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS
Wilhelmina M. Wright United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion to
dismiss Plaintiff's amended complaint. (Dkt. 14.)
Plaintiff Matthew Nagel asserts claims against Defendant
United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 653 (Local 653),
for breach of the duty of fair representation and violation
of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA).
For the reasons addressed below, the Court grants in part and
denies in part Local 653's motion to dismiss Count 1 of
Nagel's amended complaint and grants Local 653's
motion to dismiss Count 2 of Nagel's amended complaint.
dispute arises from a March 4, 2018 collective bargaining
agreement (CBA) negotiated between Local 653 and SuperValu
Cub Foods and other independent grocers (collectively,
Grocers). Under the March 4, 2018 CBA, a subset of employees
of the Grocers lost the opportunity to receive a valued
pension benefit plan. Nagel is one of several Local 653 union
members who was on track to receive the pension benefit plan
at issue. Local 653 serves as the sole and exclusive
bargaining agent for meat and food market employees of the
the previous collective bargaining agreement, employees of
the Grocers with 30 years of qualifying employment were
entitled to retire with full pension benefits. Known as the
“30-and-out” plan, both parties describe this
plan as a “highly valued, important benefit.”
Nagel alleges that, to the detriment of Nagel and other
employees, Local 653 unilaterally conceded the
“30-and-out” pension benefit plan while
negotiating the March 4, 2018 CBA. After negotiations, Local
653 sent the proposed CBA to a committee that included Local
653 union members for a vote of confidence. The committee
approved the proposed CBA without the “30-and-out,
” with only one vote against it.
653 scheduled the ratification vote on the proposed CBA to
take place at the March 4, 2018 membership meeting. Nagel
claims that Local 653 failed to provide its members with
accurate and complete information pertaining to the proposed
CBA. Prior to the ratification vote, Local 653 prepared
materials about the proposed CBA. Nagel alleges that none of
these informational materials addresses the loss of the
“30-and-out” benefit plan. And some of the
informational materials falsely state that the
committee's vote of confidence in favor of the proposed
CBA was unanimous. The gravamen of Nagel's claim is that,
during the period leading up to the ratification vote, Local
653 concealed from its members the loss of the
“30-and-out” benefit plan.
653 staffed a table with individuals who were available to
answer questions about the proposed agreement during a time
period that “substantially overlapped” with the
hours that Local 653 conducted the ratification vote. But
these individuals only answered questions regarding
the “30-and-out” plan if union members raised the
issue, Nagel alleges. And when doing so, Nagel contends, the
individuals ushered union members into a different room to
avoid alerting other members about the loss of the
“30-and-out” plan. The union members ultimately
ratified the CBA.
commenced this lawsuit on April 19, 2018, and filed his
amended complaint on July 3, 2018. The amended complaint
asserts that Local 653 breached its duty of fair
representation and violated the Labor-Management Reporting
and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Local 653 moves to dismiss the
first count of the amended complaint for failure to state a
claim for breach of duty of fair representation, and the
second count for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.
653 moves to dismiss the amended complaint under Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1). A complaint
must be dismissed, under Rule 12(b)(6), if it fails to state
a claim on which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6). To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the complaint
must allege sufficient facts that, when accepted as true,
state a facially plausible claim to relief. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). When determining
whether the complaint meets this standard, a court accepts as
true the factual allegations in the complaint and draws all
reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff.
Blankenship v. USA Truck, Inc., 601 F.3d 852, 853
(8th Cir. 2010). The factual allegations need not be
detailed, but they must be sufficient to “raise a right
to relief above the speculative level” and “state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570
(2007). Merely asserting “labels and conclusions”
or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action” is insufficient. Id. at 555. And
legal conclusions couched as factual allegations may be
disregarded by the district court. See Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 678-79. When deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, the district court may consider the complaint,
exhibits attached to the complaint, and documents that are
necessarily embraced by the complaint. Mattes v. ABC
Plastics, Inc., 323 F.3d 695, 697 n.4 (8th Cir. 2003).
complaint must be dismissed if the district court lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). When challenging a complaint for lack of
subject-matter jurisdiction, a defendant may do so either on
its face or on the factual truthfulness of its averments.
See, e.g., Titus v. Sullivan, 4 F.3d 590,
593 (8th Cir. 1993). Here, Local 653 raises a facial
challenge to jurisdiction. With a facial challenge, the non-moving
party “receives the same protections as it would
defending against a motion brought under Rule
12(b)(6).” Osborn v. United States, 918 F.2d
724, 729 n.6 (8th Cir. 1990). A defendant will prevail on its
facial challenge “if the plaintiff fails to allege an
element necessary for subject matter jurisdiction.”
Titus, 4 F.3d at 593.
Duty of Fair Representation
653 argues that Nagel fails to state a claim for breach of
the duty of fair representation. The National Labor Relations
Act imposes a duty on certified unions to fairly represent
their members during collective bargaining. See Vaca v.
Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 177-78 (1967) (interpreting
sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act). A
union breaches this duty “only when [its] conduct
toward a member of the collective bargaining unit is
arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.”
Id. at 190. To state a claim for breach of the duty
of fair representation, a plaintiff must allege enough facts
that, if presumed true, permit the inference that there was
both a breach and causation. See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at
678; Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Anderson v.
United Paperworkers Int'l Union, 641 F.2d 574, 579
(1981). Nagel alleges that Local 653 breached its duty of
fair representation by acting arbitrarily, discriminatorily,
and in bad faith, which resulted in Nagel's injury. The
Court addresses each of these allegations, in turn.
contends that Local 653 unilaterally conceded the
“30-and-out” pension benefit plan at the outset
of the negotiation and, by doing so, failed to obtain
“further consideration” for the concession. Nagel
maintains that this bargaining strategy is irrational. Local
653 argues that its negotiation of the CBA was not arbitrary.
may be deemed to have arbitrarily negotiated a CBA when the
final agreement is “so far outside a wide range of
reasonableness that it is wholly irrational.” Air
Line Pilots Ass'n, Int'l v. O'Neill, 499
U.S. 65, 78 (1991) (internal citation omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted). Courts afford substantial deference
to a union's negotiation on behalf of its membership
because negotiators need wide latitude to effectively perform
their bargaining responsibilities. See Id. The law
neither requires- nor expects-all union members to be
completely satisfied with a CBA. See Ford ...