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Frederick J. Calatrello v. American Bottling Company

November 3, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge John Adams

(Resolves Doc. 8, 14)


This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner's motion for injunctive relief based upon the pleadings and affidavits before the Court. For the reasons stated herein, the motion (Doc. 8) and Petition are GRANTED.


Plaintiff Frederick J. Calatrello, the Regional Director for Region 8 of the National Relations Board, filed this petition pursuant to Section 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act. The petition seeks injunctive relief pending final disposition before the NLRB on charges filed by Teamsters Local 293.

The facts giving rise to the Board's charge are largely undisputed. In late 2010, Respondent closed two outdate bottling plants in Northeast Ohio, a plant in Akron and a plant in Maple Heights. These facilities were consolidated and relocated to Twinsburg, Ohio. The decision to consolidate created a potential problem because the Akron employees (warehousemen, delivery drivers, vending, mechanics, and merchandisers) were represented by Local 348, while the Maple Heights employees were represented by either Local 293 (delivery drivers, advance sales representatives, and helpers) or Local 1164 (forklift operators and warehousemen). Additionally, employee classifications differed at both locations, resulting for example in groups being represented at one and not the other location. Moreover, none of the unions represented a majority of the workforce following consolidation.

Over the weeks and months leading up to the consolidation, Respondent held numerous meetings with all three local unions. The unions themselves also met and went as far raising a jurisdictional claim to the Joint Council. These meeting and their results are thoroughly detailed by the ALJ in his decision finding certain unfair labor practices. See Doc. 29-1.

Ultimately, Local 348 was recognized by Respondent as the bargaining unit. It is the events leading up to that recognition that gave rise to the charges that Respondent engaged in unfair labor practices. The charges were heard by an ALJ and his decision was issued prior to an order from this Court. The ALJ concluded that Respondent engaged in an unfair labor practice by granting recognition to and entering into a contract with Local 348. The ALJ further concluded that Respondent committed an unfair labor practice by deducting Local 348 dues from its employees. The ALJ, however, found no violation with respect to allegations that Respondent had threatened employees in violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

While this action was pending prior to the ALJ's decision, this Court withheld a ruling because the administrative process was moving quickly forward. As the initial stage of that process is now complete, the Court issues its ruling.

II.Law & Analysis

Petitions for injunctive relief brought under Section 10(j) are subordinate to the unfair labor practice proceedings to be heard before the NLRB. Fleischut v. Nixon Detroit Diesel, Inc., 859 F.2d 26, 28 (6th Cir. 1988). "The district courts in their analysis under 10(j) are not to adjudicate the merits of the unfair labor practice case." Id. To issue a § 10(j) injunction, the district court first must find that there is "reasonable cause" to believe that the respondent has committed unfair labor practices. Id. at 29. Second, if reasonable cause exists, this court must determine whether injunctive relief is "just and proper." Id. An injunction may be granted only if both of these steps are met.

Petitioner's burden to establish "reasonable cause" is "relatively insubstantial." Id. Petitioner "need not prove a violation of the NLRA nor even convince the district court of the validity of the Board's theory of liability; instead, he need only show that the Board's legal 'theory is substantial and not frivolous.'" Schaub v. West Michigan Plumbing & Heating, Inc., 250 F.3d 962, 969 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). This Court need not resolve conflicting evidence between the parties. See Fleischut, 859 F.2d at 29 (stating that the appellant's appeal did not seriously challenge whether reasonable cause exists; instead, it simply showed that a conflict in the evidence exists); Gottfried v. Frankel, 818 F.2d 485, 494 (6th Cir. 1987) (same). Instead, there need only be facts which could support the Board's theory. Fleischut, 859 F.2d at 29; Gottfried, 818 F.2d at 494.

With respect to the just and proper prong of the Court's review, the Sixth Circuit has noted as follows:

In determining whether injunctive relief under s 10(j) of the Act is just and proper, the principal consideration is whether, under the circumstances of the case, ...

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