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Breininger v. Sheet Metal Workers' Local Union No. 6

493 U.S. 67 (1989)

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Breininger v. Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union No. 6

United States Supreme Court

493 U.S. 67 (1989)

Facts

Lynn Breininger (plaintiff) was a member of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union No. 6 (the union) (defendant). The union had a collective-bargaining agreement with multiple employers under which the union operated a hiring hall for both members and nonmembers. The union maintained a list of individuals who were in need of work. If an employer called the hiring hall and requested a specified worker by name, the union was supposed to call that worker; if the employer did not request a specific worker, the union called workers starting at the top of the list until the employer’s request was satisfied. Breininger filed a complaint in district court alleging, inter alia, that the union had violated its duty of fair representation by refusing to refer him to jobs for which he had been specifically requested by an employer. Breininger did not allege that any employer had breached the collective-bargaining agreement. The district court dismissed the complaint based on finding that the National Labor Relations Board (the board) had exclusive jurisdiction over claims alleging discrimination in hiring-hall referrals that constituted an unfair labor practice. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Breininger’s failure to allege an employer’s breach of contract was fatal to his fair-representation claim. The matter came before the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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