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03/09/76 HANDWERK v. UNITED STEELWORKERS AMERICA

March 9, 1976

HANDWERK
v.
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA



Appeal from Emmet, William A. Porter, J.

Quinn, P. J., and J. H. Gillis and Allen, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Judgment -- Summary Judgment -- Legal Sufficiency -- Pleadings -- Enforceable Claim.

A motion for summary judgment challenging the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff's claim is to be examined in light of the pleadings alone; a reviewing court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts in the plaintiff's complaint and determine whether his claims are so clearly unenforceable as a matter of law that no factual development can possibly justify a right to recovery (GCR 1963, 117.2[1]).

2. Labor Relations -- Unions -- Fair Representation -- Breach of Duty.

A union's duty of fair representation of its members is breached when the union's conduct toward a member is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith; a union may not arbitrarily ignore a meritorious grievance or process it in a perfunctory fashion.

3. Labor Relations -- Unions -- Fair Representation -- Negligent Failure -- Arbitrariness.

Negligence on the part of a labor union in failing to timely file a notice of intent to proceed to arbitration of a member's grievance is a clear example of the arbitrary and perfunctory handling of a grievance which constitutes a breach of the duty of fair representation.

4. Labor Relations -- Unions -- Action for Damages -- Exhaustion of Remedies -- Constitution of Union.

Exhaustion of intra-union remedies is not required of an employee seeking damages from a union for its negligent failure to properly process his grievance where the constitution of the union establishes exhaustion requirements for cases involving the union's internal affairs and disciplinary charges affecting a member's status in the union, but not for cases involving a member's claim against the union for damages.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Complaint by Douglas G. Handwerk against the United Steelworkers of America, United Steelworkers of America, Local 136, and Penn-Dixie Cement Corporation seeking damages and reinstatement of employment because of a wrongful discharge from employment. Summary judgment for defendants. Plaintiff's motion to set aside the summary judgment orders granted and cause of action reinstated. The defendant unions appeal by leave granted.

Plaintiff, Douglas Handwerk, was an employee of the Penn-Dixie Cement Corporation and a member of United Steelworkers of America and Local 136. He alleges that he fainted twice as a result of adverse working conditions and, consequently, was unable to continue his employment. After he recovered, he received a medical approval for his return to work, but, upon attempting to return, was discharged.

Claiming that the discharge was wrongful, without just cause, and in violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the defendant union and the defendant corporation, he initiated a grievance proceeding pursuant to that agreement. The union processed plaintiff's grievance through all grievance procedure steps and appealed it to arbitration. But, the union was three months late in filing its notice of intent to proceed to arbitration. As a result, the arbitrator found that the ...


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