LOCAL UNION 2-2000 UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED-INDUSTRIAL, CHEMICAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION; UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED-INDUSTRIAL, CHEMICAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION Plaintiffs-Appellees,
COCA-COLA REFRESHMENTS USA, INC., Defendant-Appellant.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Before: ROGERS and DONALD, Circuit Judges; ANDERSON, District Judge. [*]
BERNICE BOUIE DONALD, Circuit Judge.
Plaintiff unions sued employer Coca-Cola for breach of their collective bargaining agreement, claiming that Coca-Cola failed to fulfill its obligation to implement certain wage increases on the agreed-upon dates. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, offering competing interpretations of the collective bargaining agreement. Coca-Cola also moved for summary judgment on grounds that the unions' action was time-barred. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the unions, and Coca-Cola appeals the judgment. For the following reasons, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.
Plaintiffs, United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied-Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC ("USW") and its local union affiliate, Local 2-2000, were parties to a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") with Defendant Coca-Cola that governed Coca-Cola's Paw Paw, Michigan facility from March 25, 2006 to September 30, 2009. In September 2009, the parties engaged in extensive negotiations over an agreement to replace the 2006 CBA. The negotiations resulted in an agreement to the following wage increases: Year 1: 0% increase
Year 2: 2% increase
Year 3: 3% increase
The specific effective dates for these increases were not discussed in the negotiations.
This agreement was documented in a Tentative Settlement Agreement ("TA") by an officer of Coca-Cola on September 28, 2009. The TA provided for an agreement duration from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2012, with all terms of the prior CBA to remain in effect "except as modified herein." The TA further provided for three increases in fringe benefits, effective May 2, 2010; May 1, 2011; and May 6, 2012. The TA also provided for two Retirement Plan increases, effective March 25, 2010 and March 25, 2011, and three "sick and accident insurance" increases, effective April 1, 2010; April 1, 2011; and April 1, 2012.
The TA was signed by Coca-Cola and union officials the same day, signifying that a deal had been reached subject to ratification by the local union's membership. Coca-Cola's labor relations manager prepared a red-lined document for the local union, highlighting the changes from the prior CBA. This document had an Appendix A, which provided the graduated rate increases as follows:
Year 1: 0% increase
Year 2: 2.0 % increase
Year 3: 3.0 % increase
Appendix A did not specify the effective dates or wage rates. The local union membership reviewed the red-lined document and voted to ratify the agreement on September 30, 2009. Coca-Cola then presented a draft based on the red-lined document to the local union for proofreading. The union returned the draft to the company with very minor corrections.
At some point after the effective date of the agreement, Coca-Cola prepared a chart titled "Appendix A" which listed March 21, 2010; March 20, 2011; and March 25, 2012 as the effective dates for the agreed-upon wage increases, to align with the March wage increase dates in the previous CBA.
Local union negotiators signed signature pages supplied by the company with the understanding that Coca-Cola would attach them to the corrected final CBA draft. Coca-Cola appended the various signature pages to a corrected draft and forwarded this to the parent union for signature. The parent union representative, after a cursory review and with the assumption that the local union had thoroughly proofread the final draft, obtained the necessary signatures.
Coca-Cola had the executed agreement printed in booklet form, and the local union distributed that booklet to its employees on July 17, 2010, over six months after the effective date of the agreement. It was greeted with "immediate protests" in response to the inclusion of the modified "Appendix A." The local union president emailed the plant general manager, indicating that a "mistake has been found . . . in Appendix A which has to do with our wage increase." Coca-Cola proceeded with the ...