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Castillo v. International Longshore & Warehouse Union

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 26, 2017



          William H. Orrick United States District Judge

         Defendant International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”) moves for summary judgment on plaintiff Antonio Del Castillo's claims for breach of the duty of fair representation and breach of the collective bargaining agreement on the ground that plaintiff's claims are not properly alleged against ILWU or are barred as a matter of law. Although Del Castillo opposes the motion, he offers no evidence establishing that there are material questions of fact in dispute. The ILWU's motion is GRANTED.



         On July 12, 2016, plaintiff (proceeding pro se) filed this case against ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (“PMA”) alleging that defendants breached their collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) and the union violated its duty of fair representation (“DFR”) based upon the handling of his grievance by the local affiliate of ILWU, Local 34. Dkt. No. 1. The grievance and plaintiff's Complaint here center around Del Castillo's assertions that the “request” system for assigning work used by Local 34 and PMA had a discriminatory effect and impact on Del Castillo and other older workers and that Local 34 and PMA breached the CBA by failing to implement a new system. Complaint at 3-4. He also argues in this case that his grievance raising these issues was “not processed” fairly.

         The parties stipulated to the dismissal of PMA. Dkt. No. 21. ILWU filed a motion for summary judgment on March 15, 2017. Dkt. No. 22. Plaintiff secured counsel and opposes that motion, arguing that his claims for breach of contract and violation of the duty of fair representation should proceed to trial. Dkt. Nos. 29, 31.


         Plaintiff is a marine clerk with multiple decades of experience who has not been promoted beyond his original position as “clerk, ” allegedly due to the job assignment system used by ILWU and PMA that is not based on merit but is based on “connections.” Declaration of Jonathan Matthews [Dkt. No. 32] ¶ 2.[1]

         ILWU relies on the Declaration of Allen Fung [Dkt. No. 24], the Secretary-Treasurer of ILWU Local 34 (“Local 34”), to explain the relationship between clerks like Del Castillo, ILWU, Local 34, and employers like PMA. The majority of Local 34's members are marine clerks who track the movement of cargo into, around, and out of maritime facilities. Fung Decl. ¶ 5. The workers in Local 34 are employed by PMA at ports along the West Coast. Id.

         The CBA covering Local 34 and PMA is the Pacific Coast Longshore and Clerks' Agreement (“PCL&CA” or “CBA”) which itself is made up of two contracts; the Pacific Coast Longshore Contract Document (“PCLCD”) and the Pacific Coast Clerks' Contract Document (“PCCCD”). Id. ¶ 6. The relevant PCCCD at issue was effective from 2008-2014. It was amended by a July 2014 MOU and re-executed. Id. ¶ 7, & Exs. B & C. Section 17 of the PCCCD establishes “an exclusive” grievance and arbitration process for resolving disputes arising under the PCL&CA. Id.

         According to Fung, the PCCCD governs clerk work with PMA and is administered at the local level by Local 34 and PMA, who act jointly through the “Joint Port Labor Relations Committee” (JPLRC). Id.¶ 8. The JPLRC maintains and operates the dispatch hall, decides questions regarding dispatch, and investigates and adjudicates contract grievances. Id. ¶ 9. ILWU does not play any role in operating the Local 34 dispatch hall and it does not play any role in “establishing or enforcing the means and methods of dispatching jobs to Local 34 members.” Id. ¶ 10.

         Under the prior “request system, ” in operation through February 24, 2017, PMA could request individual clerks by name to work with them on a daily or weekly basis. The remaining slots were assigned to clerks on the basis of who was available and who had worked the least in a given month. Fung Decl. ¶ 10. The system gave individuals who were “requested” better access to jobs with better hours or working conditions. Id. In 2014, Local 34 “advocated” with PMA to establish a new “steady” system, eliminating the request system and resulting in the 2014 Letter of Understanding (“2014 LOU”). Id. ¶ 11. The 2014 LOU, however, was not implemented by PMA. After a series of disputes were arbitrated through the grievance mechanism during three separate arbitration proceedings, the “steady” system became operational as of February 25, 2017. Id. ¶¶ 12-13.

         The only grievance filed by Del Castillo related to the hiring system was handed to Fung by Del Castillo on February 11, 2016. Id. ¶ 14. That grievance - dated February 10, 2016 and attached to Del Castillo's Complaint - complains that PMA and Local 34 had yet to implement the new steady system and were still relying on the old, discriminatory request system. Dkt. No. 1 at 6. Del Castillo also accused PMA and Local 34 of discrimination based on age and seniority, presumably under the “request system” that was still operating at that time. Id. Finally, Del Castillo complained that the old system violated the Clerk Work Opportunity Guarantee. Id.

         Del Castillo's grievance was considered by the Local 34 Executive Committee on April 12, 2016. Fung Decl., ¶ 14. Despite having notice, Del Castillo did not attend that meeting. The Executive Committee directed that his grievance would not be moved forward “because Local 34 was already prosecuting PMA for noncompliance with the 2014 LOU in order to eliminate the request system, and there was no evidence to support Plaintiff's other allegations.” Id. ¶ 14.

         Additionally, Del Castillo filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) on March 29, 2016, alleging that Local 34 and PMA violated the National Labor Relations Act by failing to eliminate the request system and continuing to dispatch employees based on favoritism. Fung Decl., Ex. J. After conducting an investigation, the NLRB dismissed the charge based on insufficient evidence. Endo Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. A.


         Summary judgment on a claim or defense is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In order to prevail, a party moving for summary judgment must show the absence of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to an essential element of the non-moving party's claim, or to a defense on which the non-moving party will bear the burden of persuasion at trial. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has made this showing, the burden then shifts to the party opposing summary judgment to identify “specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.” Id. The party opposing summary judgment must then present affirmative evidence from which a jury could return a verdict in that party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 257 (1986).

         On summary judgment, the Court draws all reasonable factual inferences in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 255. In deciding a motion for summary judgment, “[c]redibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge.” Id. However, conclusory and speculative testimony does not raise genuine issues of fact and is insufficient to defeat summary judgment. See Thornhill Publ'g Co., Inc. v. GTE Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 738 (9th Cir.1979).


         ILWU moves for summary judgment arguing that: (i) ILWU cannot be liable for the complained-of actions that were taken by Local 34; (ii) Del Castillo failed to exhaust his DFR claim as to race discrimination under the prior request system, and that claim as well as any age discrimination claims are time-barred; (iii) plaintiff has failed to exhaust any claims regarding the new steady system; and (iv) no reasonable ...

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