United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
K. Majzoub, U.S. Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DISMISS, OR ALTERNATIVELY, FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge
Gay Cavanaugh, an employee at Ford Motor Company, was placed
on medical leave in November 2004. Plaintiff contacted Ford
about returning to her position in the Clerk's Department
upon the expiration of her medical leave in January 2006, but
to no avail. After Ms. Cavanaugh returned to work in January
2007, Defendant UAW Local No. 228 filed a grievance on her
behalf, challenging Ford's inability to place Ms.
Cavanaugh in a position consistent with her medical
restrictions. UAW Local No. 228 investigated Plaintiff's
allegations by meeting with supervisors at Ford and
extensively reviewing documents. After determining that there
was no evidence to support Plaintiff's complaints, Local
No. 228 withdrew the grievance in September 2012.
filed this lawsuit on September 11, 2015, alleging that UAW
Local No. 228 and Co-Defendant UAW International breached
their duty to fairly represent her. According to Plaintiff,
Defendants failed to obtain her authorization before
withdrawing the grievance; failed to communicate with her
while the grievance was processed; wrongfully withdrew the
grievance; acted arbitrarily and/or in bad faith; and failed
to adequately administer and/or adjudicate her dispute with
submissions to the Court are muddled and confusing. According
to the complaint, Plaintiff brings this action under Section
301 of the Labor Management Relations Act
(“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 185 et seq.
However, in her Response to Defendants' Motion, Plaintiff
for the first time states that she brings her claims pursuant
to Section 9 of the National Labor Relations Act
(“NLRA”), 29 U.S.C. § 159 et seq.
In other portions of her Response, Plaintiff proceeds as
though Section 301 governs her claims. The Court will address
this discrepancy in more detail later in this Opinion.
Court has considered the parties' submissions and finds
the motion suitable for determination without oral argument
pursuant to Local Rule 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons stated
below, the Court will GRANT the Motion to Dismiss/Motion for
Summary Judgment as to both defendants. Plaintiff consents to
dismissal of her claims as to Defendant UAW International.
The Court will also dismiss Plaintiff's claims as to
Defendant UAW Local 228 because she has failed to allege that
the union acted in a hostile or discriminatory manner; that
the union exercised its discretion in bad faith; or that the
union engaged in arbitrary conduct. See Airline Pilots
Ass'n Int'l v. O'Neill, 499 U.S. 65, 76
Gay Cavanaugh has been a Ford Motor Company
employee in the Clerk's Department at the axle
plant in Sterling, Michigan since 1996. While working at
Ford, Plaintiff has been a member of a bargaining unit
represented by UAW Local 228. The terms and conditions of her
employment are governed by several collective bargaining
agreements between Ford and the UAW, including the 2003
Master Agreement (Dkt 9-2, Ex. A, Pg. ID 94), which
establishes the grievance procedures at issue in this case.
Plaintiff's attempts to return to work after medical
leave and the filing of the 2007 grievance.
placed Plaintiff on medical leave in November 2004. Her leave
expired in January 2006. Throughout 2006, Plaintiff attempted
to return to work under physician-imposed restrictions,
including sedentary work with a sit/stand option and
constraints on her use of heavy machinery. (Dkt. 16-1, Ex. A,
Pg. ID 584-97).
Ford consistently informed Plaintiff that no work was
available within her job classification. Id. In
January 2007, Plaintiff returned to the position at which she
worked prior to her medical leave. According to Plaintiff,
this position was available in 2006 - while she continuously
sought employment - and it was consistent with her medical
restrictions. Plaintiff was compensated while on leave, but
did not receive overtime pay, seniority, or time toward her
pension. As part of her efforts to reenter the work force,
Plaintiff requested assistance from several different union
representatives, including Jerry Payne, Gary Martin, Donnie
Marshall, and Jeff Terry.
result of Ford's failure to reinstate Plaintiff in
January 2006, UAW Local 228 District Committeman Ken Gaffa
filed grievance #CC-312933 on Plaintiff's behalf on March
22, 2007 (Dkt. 16-1, Pg. ID 599). The basis of
Plaintiff's grievance was that Ford transferred employee
Marla Woodford to a vacant position in the Clerk's
Department rather than recalling Plaintiff to this position.
VII of the Master Agreement governs Local No. 228's
grievance protocols. The Agreement provides, in relevant
[T]he Union shall, in the redress of alleged violations by
the Company of this Agreement . . . be the exclusive
representative of the interests of each employee or group of
employees covered by this Agreement, and only the Union shall
have the right to assert and press against the Company any
claim, proceeding or action asserting a violation of this
(Dkt. 9-2, Ex. A, pg. 44-45).
Master Agreement also gives the union the power to withdraw a
grievance or appeal a grievance, even absent the
employee's consent. Id. at pg. 48, 51
(“The Unit Committee shall have power to withdraw a . .
. grievance . . .”).
grievance procedure begins with oral discussions among the
employee, the UAW District Committeeperson, and the
employee's supervisor at Ford. In the event that the
grievance is not resolved at that point, the Committeeperson
may appeal to Stage 2. Assuming oral discussion is
unsuccessful, the written grievance is submitted to the
company at a Unit Grievance Meeting. The company has one week
to issue a written decision on all grievances considered at
the Grievance Meeting. Id. at 45-47.
Chairperson of the Unit Committee may refer the grievance to
Stage 3 if she considers it to be well-founded. The company
is given notice of the third stage grievance, and both
parties must exchange a complete and detailed statement of
the facts and circumstances surrounding the grievance. If the
grievance contains a claim for discrimination, the Bargaining
Chairperson may refer the grievance to the Chairperson of the
Civil Rights Committee of the Local Union for investigation.
Id. at 48-49.
to step 1 of the Article VII grievance process, Gaffa met
with Plaintiff and a Ford supervisor for an initial oral
discussion. They were unable to resolve the grievance at this
Neil Wallyn's involvement with Plaintiff's
appealed to the second step of the procedure on March 23,
2007, and referred Plaintiff's grievance to Plant
Committeman Neil Wallyn. Wallyn was then handling
approximately 300 other active grievances within the
bargaining unit at the Plant. (Dkt. 9-2 at Pg. ID 85-86).
reviewed the step 1 record, all applicable contracts between
the UAW and Ford, and met with Plaintiff. After examining
Article VIII, Section 30 of the Master Agreement,
Wallyn could not identify any specific contractual provision
requiring Ford to immediately recall Plaintiff from medical