Legal Memorandum: Collective Bargaining Agreement and §301 Preemption

Issue: When are the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) preempted by Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Collective bargaining agreement (CBA); Section 301 preemption
Jurisdiction: Federal, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 482 U.S. 386; 471 U.S. 202; 486 U.S. 399
Cited Statutes: Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974; 24 V.I.C. § 76(a); Rule 12(b)(6); 19 U.S.C. § 2411
Date: 01/01/2009

"Not every dispute concerning employment, or tangentially involving a provision of the collective bargaining agreement, is preempted by Section 301*FN1 or other provisions of federal labor law."  Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 211 (1985).  “We cannot declare preempted all local regulation that touches or concerns in any way the complex interrelationships between employees, employers and unions; obviously, much of this is left to the States.”  Id. at 208 n.4 (emphasis added).

For there to be Section 301 preemption, the complaint itself must allege an action that requires interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement. Urgent v. Hovensa, LLC, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77455, *9 (D.V.I. Oct. 2, 2008); see also Allis-Chalmers, 471 U.S. at 211.  Only when resolution of a state-law claim is substantially dependent upon analysis of the terms of an agreement made between the parties in a labor contract, must that claim be treated as a § 301 claim or dismissed as preempted by federal labor-contract law.  Urgent at *9; see also Lingle v. Norge Div. of Magic Chef, Inc., 486 U.S. 399, 399-400 (1988). 

The Virgin Islands Wrongful Discharge Act (WDA) provides that it is unlawful to terminate an employee except on certain specified statutory grounds.  24 V.I.C. § 76(a).  The fact that the defense to a state or territorial contract claim may implicate § 301 is not determinative on a 12(b)(6) motion where it is only the allegations of the complaint that […]