United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER (1) DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION, (2)
DENYING MOTION TO REMAND, AND (3) GRANTING MOTION TO
SUPPLEMENT (ECF NOS. 32, 38, 57)
P. GORDON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
lawsuit originally was brought by plaintiff Raymond Garcia,
who is a member of the Clark County Public Employees
Association, also known as SEIU 1107 (Local 1107). Local 1107
is a union for private and public sector employees in Clark
County, Nevada. Garcia brought this lawsuit on Local
1107's behalf in Nevada state court against defendants
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Luisa Blue (the
trustee appointed over Local 1107), Mary Henry (president of
the SEIU), the Executive Board of Local 1107 (who voted in
favor of the trusteeship), and Steve Ury (SEIU counsel who
allegedly gave advice to the Executive Board of Local 1107).
brief, Local 1107 is affiliated with the international union,
SEIU. When Local 1107 experienced internal management issues
that resulted in the removal of the Local's president and
vice president, the Local's executive board voted in
favor of SEIU placing the local union in a trusteeship, and
the SEIU did so. Garcia contends this action violated the
affiliation agreement between Local 1107 and the SEIU,
breached Local 1107's constitution, was achieved through
misrepresentations and legal malpractice, and constitutes a
breach of fiduciary duties.
defendants removed the case to federal court on the basis
that Garcia's claims are completely preempted by section
301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) and thus are
removable under federal question jurisdiction. Garcia moved
to remand. I denied that motion, finding that Garcia's
claim that the SEIU breached the parties' affiliation
agreement was preempted under section 301 as a claim
asserting a breach of a contract between labor organizations.
ECF No. 39. After I denied remand, Garcia amended his
complaint to add new plaintiffs who are Local 1107 members
and are also public sector employees. ECF No. 29.
plaintiffs now move for reconsideration of my ruling that
federal question jurisdiction exists and move to remand to
state court. They also request leave to supplement their
arguments on the motion to remand. The defendants oppose all
the motion for reconsideration and the motion to remand. I
stand by my original ruling that in the context of this case,
the plaintiffs' claim that the SEIU breached the
affiliation agreement is completely preempted by section 301,
thus giving rise to federal question jurisdiction supporting
removal. I decline to adopt the plaintiffs' position that
complete preemption under section 301 applies only when
interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement is at
issue. Finally, I grant the motion to supplement. However,
the supplemental arguments do not alter my rulings.
1107 entered into an affiliation agreement with the SEIU in
1987. ECF No. 1-1 at 28-39. Paragraph 18 of the affiliation
agreement waives Article VIII, Section 7(a)-(f) of the
SEIU's constitution, which governs when the SEIU can
place a local union into trusteeship. Under paragraph 18 of
the affiliation agreement, the SEIU cannot place Local 1107
into a trusteeship “except . . . with the approval of
the [Local 1107] Board of Representatives.”
Id. at 36.
fall of 2016, in response to complaints from local union
members, defendant Henry-as president of the SEIU-ordered a
hearing to determine the validity of charges against the
Local's president, Cherie Mancini, and executive vice
president, Sharon Kisling. Id. at 41, 180 (Article
XVII, Section 2(f) of the SEIU constitution granting the SEIU
president the power to assume jurisdiction over charges
against a local member or officer in certain circumstances).
Henry appointed Carol Nieters as hearing master. Id.
Following a hearing, Nieters recommended that Mancini and
Kisling be removed from their positions and that the SEIU
impose a trusteeship over Local 1107 due to deteriorating
conditions there. Id. at 42, 52-54.
on these recommendations, Henry issued a letter to Local 1107
members informing them she was invoking her power as SEIU
president to remove Mancini and Kisling from their positions.
Id. at 56-58. Henry took the trusteeship
recommendation under advisement and dispatched SEIU vice
president Neal Bisno, deputy chief of staff Deedee
Fitzpatrick, and associate general counsel Steve Ury to
attend Local 1107's already-scheduled executive board
meeting “to discuss how the Local can move forward in
the way that best serves its members.” Id. at
1107's board met on April 26, 2017, which included a
closed session with the SEIU officials. According to the
complaint, Ury told the board members that because Local
1107's constitution did not contain provisions for what
to do if the president and vice president positions were
simultaneously vacant, the board had no choice but to request
the SEIU place the Local into trusteeship. Id. at 6.
A majority of the board voted to do so, with 17 voting in
favor of the trusteeship, 7 against, and 5 abstaining.
Id. at 6, 59, 61; ECF No. 11 at 6. Henry then
entered an order of trusteeship invoking her powers under
Article VIII, Sections 7(a) and (f) of the SEIU constitution
and appointed defendant Luisa Blue as Trustee. ECF No. 1-1 at
on these allegations, Garcia brought suit in Nevada state
court as a member of Local 1107. Among his claims was that
the SEIU breached the affiliation agreement between the two
unions. Id. at 9-10.
defendants removed the case to this court on the basis of
federal question jurisdiction, arguing that although
Garcia's claims were styled as state law claims, section
301 of the LMRA completely preempts the breach of contract
claims. Garcia moved to remand, arguing that because both the
Local and the SEIU have public sector employees to which the
LMRA does not apply, his claims were not preempted.
a hearing on the motion to remand (along with a pending
motion for a temporary restraining order). ECF No. 39. At
that hearing, I denied Garcia's motion to remand.
Id. at 90. I ruled that based on section 301's
plain language, this lawsuit fell within that section's
complete preemptive force for lawsuits involving a
“violation of contracts between . . . labor
organizations.” Id. I rejected Garcia's
attempt to rely on the public employee exemption in the LMRA,
which essentially defines public sector employers and
employees out of the LMRA's scope. Id.; see
also 29 U.S.C. §§ 152(2), (3), (5). I
concluded that the cases on which Garcia relied were
distinguishable because here, “the unions are labor
organizations in the context of a breach of [the] two
unions' Affiliation Agreement that has no specific
relation to public employees, a public employer, or a public
Collective Bargaining Agreement.” ECF No. 39 at 91.
end of the hearing, Garcia's counsel asked for
clarification about whether my ruling hinged on the fact that
Garcia was not a public sector employee. Id. at 96.
I stated that my ruling did not rely on that fact and that I
did not deny the motion to remand “just because the
plaintiff is a private employee . . . .” Id. I
also advised Garcia's counsel that I was aware he could
simply amend to add a public sector employee, but that ...