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Teamsters Local Union No. 135 v. Sysco Indianapolis, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

November 22, 2016

TEAMSTERS LOCAL UNION NO. 135, Plaintiff,
v.
SYSCO INDIANAPOLIS, LLC, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON MOTION TO DISMISS

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         This cause is before the Court on Defendant Sysco Indianapolis, LLC's, Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 13). The motion is fully briefed, and the Court, being duly advised, hereby DENIES the motion for the reasons set forth below.

         A. Factual Background

         This case arises out of a dispute between the Plaintiff, Teamsters Local Union No. 135 (“Union”), and the Defendant, Sysco Indianapolis, LLC (“Sysco”). The facts as alleged by the Union in its Complaint are as follow.

         The Union and Sysco entered into a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) effective March 3, 2013. While negotiating that agreement, “Sysco proposed ending its participation in and withdrawing from the Central States, Southeast, and Southwest Areas Pension Fund (“Central States”) for bargaining unit employees and enrolling them in the Sysco Corporation Retirement Plan.” Complaint at ¶ 8.

As an inducement to obtain the Union's agreement on its proposal to withdraw from Central States and enroll the employees in its retirement plan, Sysco representatives explained to the Union's negotiators that in addition to the base retirement benefits under the Sysco plan, the bargaining unit employees would receive a Supplemental Early Retirement Benefit (“SERB”) of $500 per month between the ages of fifty-five and sixty-five. The SERB would be available to bargaining unit employees who retired before the age of sixty-five, provided they had twenty years of overall service with Sysco, at least ten of which were in delivery and/or warehouse positions, and at least two of which were immediately preceding retirement.

Id. at ¶ 9. The Union agreed to Sysco's proposal. However, after the CBA was ratified, “Sysco representatives informed the bargaining unit employees that there were additional requirements for retiring employees to obtain the SERB, which would effectively make the SERB an illusory benefit, and which were not mentioned when the CBA was negotiated and ratified.” Id. At ¶ 10. That led to some bargaining unit employees who retired early with the expectation of receiving the SERB not being eligible for it.

         John Seward, a member of the bargaining unit, filed a grievance on behalf of himself and all other bargaining union employees regarding the “post-ratification changes to the SERB” and asking that the bargaining union employees “be made whole in all ways.” Id. at 14. The grievance progressed through the stages set forth in the CBA and ultimately was heard by the Joint Grievance Committee (“JGC”). On January 22, 2014, the JGC summarily ruled in favor of the Union.

         Pursuant to Article 9 of the CBA, “[a]ny decision reached by a majority of members of the Joint Grievance Committee which is not referred to arbitration by either party within (10) calendar days from receipt of the written decision shall be final and binding on the parties.” Dkt. No. 2 at 7. Sysco apparently did not seek arbitration of the decision. The Union now asks this Court for the following relief:

1. A permanent injunction enforcing the Joint Grievance Committee decision and directing Sysco to comply with the decision by either providing the equivalent of the SERB benefit directly to all eligible bargaining unit employees who retire in the future, or by reforming the terms of the Sysco Retirement Plan to ensure that the SERB benefit is paid to all eligible employees; and
2. A judgment confirming and enforcing the Joint Grievance Committee in [sic] decision in its entirety and directing Sysco to make the employees and the Union whole for monetary damages incurred as a result of its unlawful refusal to comply with the decision.

Complaint at p. 5.

         B. Discussion

         Sysco moves to dismiss the Union's Complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). In resolving this motion, the Court must “accept all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Lavalais v. Village of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d ...


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