Saturday, September 22, 2007
Eighth Circuit again reverses Nebraska Federal District Court Judge Bataillon, this time for Judge Bataillon's ruling that retired union members should be able to keep sucking their employer Crown Cork and Seal dry for a lifetime of gold-plated health care. International Association of Machinists, AFL-CIO v. Crown Cork &Seal 09/18/2007 U.S. Court of Appeals Case No: 06-3639 District of Nebraska - Omaha [PUBLISHED] [Bowman, Author, with Melloy and Gruender, Circuit Judges]. Retired union employees of Crown Cork and Seal filed grievances because the company put introduced unwelcome cost cutting measures to their health plans. Company sought declaratory relief that it did not have to arbitrate and could modify the health plans. District Court Bataillon ruled the company had to agree to arbitration under the company's active labor relations agreement with present employees. Eighth Circuit reverses. The retirees' health benefits did not vest before the Master Agreements expired and did not survive the expiration of those agreements. The district court erred in granting summary judgment to the union and ordering arbitration of Crown's unilateral modification of the retiree health plan. Crown's declaratory judgment action under the Labor Management Relations Act is dismissed, as the law of the case conclusively determined that retiree benefits did not vest before the Master Agreement expired.