Justia ERISA Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Construction Law
Laborers’ Pension Fund v. W.R. Weis Company, Inc.
Weis, a stonework firm, was required by a collective-bargaining agreement (CBA) to contribute to the Laborers’ Pension Fund for each hour worked by Union members. Weis complied for many years, then began using more skilled marble setters and finishers on its jobs, gradually stopped hiring Union members, ceased paying into the Fund, and terminated its CBA with the Union. The Fund, a multiemployer pension plan governed by ERISA and the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendment Act, served notice that Weis owed more than $600,000 in withdrawal liability. Weis paid but challenged the assessment in arbitration, invoking 29 U.S.C. 1383(b): An employer in the building and construction industry is subject to withdrawal liability only if, after its contribution obligation ceases, it continues to perform work in the jurisdiction of the CBA of the type for which contributions were previously required. The Fund argued that the arbitrator misread the phrase “previously required” to mean “previously collected by the plan.” A district judge confirmed the award but denied Weis attorney’s fees. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Fund waived its statutory-interpretation argument by failing to raise it in arbitration and did not meaningfully challenge the arbitrator’s factual determinations. The judge did not abuse his discretion in denying Weis’s motion for attorney’s fees. View "Laborers' Pension Fund v. W.R. Weis Company, Inc." on Justia Law
NJ Carpenters v. Tishman Constr. Corp. of NJ
The New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act, N.J. Stat. 34:11-56.25 (PWA) provides that laborers on certain public works projects are to be paid the prevailing wage. Carpenters hired to work on the Revel Casino Project in Atlantic City claimed that the Revel Casino Project is a “public work” within the meaning of the PWA because it received financial assistance in the form of incentives, tax exemptions, and tax reimbursements from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), which, they argued is a “public body” within the meaning of the Act. They assigned their claims for unpaid prevailing wages to the plaintiffs, employee benefit plans within the meaning of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001, and trust funds within the meaning of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 141. The district court held that the claims were completely preempted under ERISA section 502(a). Although it did not directly address LMRA complete preemption, the court also noted that the complaint “seeks interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement.” The Third Circuit vacated and remanded with instructions to remand to state court, holding that neither statute completely preempts the PWA. View "NJ Carpenters v. Tishman Constr. Corp. of NJ" on Justia Law