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United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
September 22, 1997, Argued ; March 20, 1998, Decided
[*1115] CUDAHY, Circuit Judge. This appeal is a small piece of one of the most protracted disputes between labor and management in recent history. Appellant Troy McNealy, a former member of the United Auto Workers (UAW), brought suit alleging that appellee Caterpillar violated Illinois law when it dismissed him without just cause. The district judge held that a prior decision of the Illinois Appellate Court precluded McNealy from pursuing his suit, and, in the alternative, that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) preempted McNealy's state law claim. In this opinion, we hold that the [**2] decision of the Illinois court did not give rise to issue preclusion. We also find that McNealy and Caterpillar were not parties to an individual contract, and accordingly decline to reach whether the NLRA would preempt a state law claim based on breach of that contract. We conclude by suggesting that McNealy's claim would be more appropriately framed as a suit under § 301 of the NLRA.
Troy McNealy was a production and maintenance employee at a Caterpillar plant from 1974 until he was involuntarily terminated in October 1992. In February 1991, McNealy went on short-term disability leave for foot surgery. Caterpillar extended this leave when McNealy manifested a form of epilepsy, and placed him on long-term disability leave in February 1992. But in October 1992, agents of Caterpillar saw McNealy driving an automobile. The company subsequently fired him for misrepresenting his medical condition. McNealy, who asserts that his illness does not prevent him from driving short distances, complained to his union, the UAW.
When Caterpillar fired McNealy, its employees were working without a formal collective bargaining agreement (CBA). That contract had expired in September [**3] 1991. Caterpillar and the UAW were unable to agree to the terms of a new CBA, and the UAW called a strike. After the UAW rejected three proposals by Caterpillar, the union and company had bargained to impasse. Eventually, Caterpillar notified the UAW that it would exercise its statutory right to unilaterally implement portions of its most recent contract proposal. On March 31, 1992, Caterpillar sent a letter to each UAW represented worker, including McNealy. The letter invited striking employees to return to work and summarized the unilaterally implemented terms.
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139 F.3d 1113 *; 1998 U.S. App. LEXIS 5603 **; 157 L.R.R.M. 2778; 135 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P58,423
TROY W. MCNEALY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. CATERPILLAR, INC., Defendant-Appellee.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 96-C-3691. Charles P. Kocoras, Judge.
Disposition: Judgment VACATED and case REMANDED for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
just cause, employees, bargaining, unilateral, individual contract, implied-in-fact, terms, arbitration, state law claim, preempted, impasse, expired, federal labor, federal law, interim, district court, reinstate, parties, courts, fired, unfair labor practice, arbitration clause, issue preclusion, negotiations, implemented, collective bargaining agreement, collective bargaining process, federal labor policy, Relations, contracts
Civil Procedure, Preclusion of Judgments, Estoppel, Collateral Estoppel, Judgments, General Overview, Full Faith & Credit, Business & Corporate Compliance, Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Duty to Bargain, Labor & Employment Law, Impasse Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Arbitration, Unfair Labor Practices, Contracts Law, Contract Conditions & Provisions, Arbitration Clauses, Labor Arbitration, Arbitration Coverage Limits, Bargaining Subjects, Enforcement of Bargaining Agreements, Administrative Law, Separation of Powers, Primary Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Concurrent Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction, Interpretation of Agreements, Wrongful Termination, Breach of Contract, Duty of Fair Representation