National Labor Board Holds Authority in 7th Circuit Dispute – Copeland v. Penske Logistics


The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals maintained that the National Labor Relations Board has the authority to hear a complaint from employees who bring a hybrid lawsuit against an employer and labor union.

In Beverly K. Copeland, et al. v. Penske Logistics LLC; Penske Logistics, Inc.; and Chauffeurs, Teamsters, Warehousemen and Helpers Local Union Number 135, No. 11-1955, former Penske Logistics employees filed suit when they grew dissatisfied with the compensation package offered by Penske when the company lost its contract with The Indianapolis Star—its only client. Penske provided transportation services for The Star. The lawsuit claimed that the company did not provide its employees all the appropriate benefits available to them under its contract with The Star. The suit also claimed that the union should be found liable for failing to bargain with Penske in good faith to ensure all benefits would be secured for the employees.

Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the 7th Circuit opinion: “As a hybrid action, it is doomed by the fact that the plaintiffs do not even contend that Penske Logistics failed to implement the collective bargaining agreement.”

The appellate panel held that the good faith claim is a matter under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. This affirmed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment favor of the defendants in the matter of fair representation. The appellate panel remanded for dismissal of the good faith claim, citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction.


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