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Sarauer v. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin

September 30, 2019

DANIEL SARAUER, DARYL BARTSCH, RANDALL BRACE, JOANN CAPTAIN, PETER ENGELEITER, RANDOLPH KUBATSKI, STEVEN LEITZKE, MICHAEL STINEMATES, DONALD ZAGAR, and DANIEL ZASTROW, Plaintiffs,
v.
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, DISTRICT 10, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS AND AEROSPACE WORKERS, ROCK RIVER LODGE 2053, and MAYSTEEL INDUSTRIES LLC (ALLENTON FACILITY), Defendants.

          DECISION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          DAVID E. JONES United States Magistrate Judge.

         The issue in this case is whether the date of either contract ratification or contract execution constitutes the date when a collective bargaining agreement is renewed, extended or modified for purposes of applying the Wisconsin right to work law. For the reasons discussed below, the Court holds that the date of contract ratification, demonstrating that a meeting of the minds has occurred, is the operative date, not contract execution. Accordingly, defendants’ motion for summary judgment will be granted and plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment will be denied.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The factual recitation that follows is derived from Plaintiffs’ Response to Defendants’ Findings of Fact (“PRDPFP”), ECF No. 40. It may read a little choppy, but the Court has tried to set out only facts that plaintiffs do not dispute.

         A. Negotiation of the 2015 CBA

         For many years, Maysteel Industries (“Maysteel” or “Company”) and International Association of Machinists, District 10 and Rock River Lodge 2053 (collectively “Union”) have been parties to collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) covering workers at the Allenton, Wisconsin facility. The prior CBA had effective dates from March 4, 2012, to March 4, 2015 (hereafter “2012 agreement”), and the new agreement has effective dates from March 2, 2015 to March 4, 2018 (hereafter “2015 agreement”). PRDPFP ¶ 1, ECF No. 40.

         The Union sent a timely letter to Maysteel to negotiate a successor to the 2012 agreement. Negotiations over the 2015 agreement began in January 2015. A committee of bargaining unit employees, with the assistance of Business Representative Scott Parr bargained for the Union. Dave Dembinski, Kevin Matkin, Darci Boettcher and Mark Mertzig bargained for Maysteel. Dembinski was the Company’s lead spokesman. Id. ¶ 2.

         The Maysteel bargaining unit had a history of voting down contracts. When Parr began bargaining, he informed both the members and the Company that he intended to obtain ratification on the first vote no later than March 4th, the expiration date of the prior agreement. Id. ¶ 3.

         The parties kept a “living document” (or “summary document”) of tentatively agreed-upon proposals which were typically initialed or signed by Parr and Dembinski. Once all proposals were tentatively agreed upon, they were combined into a “tentative agreement.” Negotiation regarding all items save the specifics of the break times were completed by February 27, 2015. Id. ¶ 4 During negotiations, the parties agreed to change from two breaks to one, and from a 20-minute lunch to a 30-minute unpaid lunch. There was never a contractual provision or proposal on when such breaks were provided. Id. Similarly, the 2012 CBA did not specify when breaks were to occur. Id. ¶¶ 6 & 8.

         The company did not want to specify break times in the agreement but proposed that the Union poll employees, then the Union and company would agree from there. The tentative agreement stated that “the specific time of the rest period will be established by the company and the committee by April 1st of 2015.” Id. ¶¶ 2 & 7.

         Negotiations focused on changes to the existing CBA as had been the parties’ tradition. They did not bargain from scratch. If no changes to the 2012 language were proposed, the existing language would be included in the next agreement. Id. ¶ 5.

         All collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the Union are subject to ratification. After negotiations concluded, but prior to ratification, the tentative agreement was sent by Boettcher to Parr by e-mail. The Company also provided enough copies of the tentative agreement so that it could be distributed to the Union’s membership at the ratification meeting. Id. ¶ 14.

         The tentative agreement was submitted to the Union’s membership on Saturday, February 28, 2015. Parr believed the Union had gotten everything that they could out of the Company and recommended that the membership ratify the agreement. Id. ¶ 17.

         At the ratification meeting, Parr explained that the members were voting on the existing CBA as modified by the changes reflected in the tentative agreement. Before voting started, Parr explained all the changes included in the tentative agreement. He observed that no modifications had been made to the union security provisions during the negotiations and that the membership was ratifying the continuation of provisions of the prior agreement, which would include the union security provisions. Maysteel and the Union agreed that the new CBA would include all existing provisions of the 2012 agreement plus all changes to the language tentatively agreed upon during negotiations. After this explanation, the members ratified the contract on February 28, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 18 & 19.

         Plaintiff Brace, at that time a Union member, attended the ratification meeting; the remaining plaintiffs, not being members of the Union, did not attend. Id. ¶¶ 13 & 20.

         Either on February 28th or the next day, Dembinski asked Parr if they could make the new wage rates effective March 2nd. Dembinski indicated that the contract would have taken effect March 5th, but he agreed to pay the new wages for the entire week. March 2 was a Monday and the first day of the Company’s payroll period. This early implementation allowed the Company to avoid ...


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