The opinion of the court was delivered by: BARBARA A. CAULFIELD
Plaintiffs filed this action in San Francisco Superior Court on August 12, 1991. On September 30, 1991 defendants timely filed a notice of removal in which it was alleged that this court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185. On January 31, 1992 this court sue sponte issued an Order to Show Cause why this matter should not be remanded to the San Francisco Superior Court. Upon consideration of the written response to the court's Order to Show Cause, and arguments of the parties, the court orders that this matter be REMANDED to the San Francisco Superior Court.
Plaintiffs Richard Smith and Richard Linn are employed as airline pilots for American Airlines. Plaintiffs are both residents of northern California and prior to and during the events that gave rise to this action plaintiffs were the incumbent chairman and vice chairman of the San Francisco region of the Allied Pilots Association ("APA") Board of Directors, the national union representing American Airlines pilots.
This action arises out of the 1990 campaign to elect representatives within the APA. During the 1990 campaign, defendants co-authored a letter addressed to "Fellow San Francisco APA Members" in which defendants attributed to plaintiffs certain actions and motivations surrounding their union activities which, plaintiffs alleges, if true clearly would not be in the best interests of a majority of the union members. Therefore, plaintiffs complaint alleges that such statements are defamatory.
A. Preemption Under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act [LMRA], 29 U.S.C. § 185
In their response to the court's Order to Show Cause defendants succinctly identified their basis for removing this action:
The ground for removal was that plaintiffs' claim -- that defendants made false and defamatory statements concerning plaintiffs' support for provisions in the collective bargaining agreements with American and concerning plaintiffs' position on the issues of constitutional governance within the Union--is intertwined with or requires construction of the collective agreements and the APA Constitution and is therefore "completely preempted" by federal law.
The court disagrees with defendants' interpretation of the jurisdictional issues presented. First, contrary to defendants' contention, plaintiffs action has nothing to do with their position on the issues of constitutional governance within the Union. As indicated above, while a Union Appeals Board did hear plaintiffs complaints, the Board's ruling specifically indicated that its' Constitution does not give it jurisdiction over plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs' complaint does not mention the Board's procedures as a basis for liability. Nor does defendant suggest that the Board's ruling is entitled to res judicata or collateral estoppel effect. Therefore, nothing in plaintiffs' action suggest to the court that plaintiffs are challenging the "constitutional governance within the Union."
The Order to Show Cause was based on the court's review of plaintiffs' complaint and a determination that plaintiffs' complaint fails to state a cause of action which depends for its resolution upon the interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement between APA and American Airlines and the APA Constitution. Defendant's response to the court's Order has failed to alter the court's initial impression.
Defendants correctly note that under Section 301, state law claims are completely preempted, and therefore subject to removal, if the claims require for their resolution the interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement or a union constitution. Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 413, 108 S. Ct. 1877, 100 L. Ed. 2d 410 (1988). However, defendants' analysis ignores the underlying rationale behind section 301.
Section 301 preempts state claims which can only be resolved by analysis of the collective bargaining agreement because "[a] contrary result would frustrate the federal interest in uniform federal interpretation of collective agreements, allowing 'parties to evade the requirements of § 301 by relabeling their contract claims as claims for tortious breach of contract.'" Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 211, 105 S. Ct. 1904, 1911, 85 L. Ed. 2d 206 (1985), as cited in Young v. Anthony's Fish Grottos, Inc., 830 F.2d 993, 999 (9th Cir. 1987). Implicit in the decisions which have addressed this issue is the notion that the legislative intent behind enacting section 301 was to prevent state courts from interpreting provisions in ...