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JTS, Inc. v. Local 77 of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 8, 2014

JTS, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,


RIVHARD A. JONES, District Judge.


This matter comes before the court on a motion to dismiss from Local 77 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("the Union"). No one has requested oral argument and the court finds oral argument unnecessary. For the reasons stated herein, the court GRANTS the motion in part and DENIES it in part. Dkt. # 14. The court directs the clerk to promptly issue a new order scheduling initial disclosures and a joint status report.


JTS, Inc., and its two owners, Kristi and Joaquin Quezada (collectively "JTS"), provide electric power line maintenance services in Western Washington. They allege that after a dispute with the Union over payment of required contributions, the Union terminated its collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") with JTS in January 2012. This case arises from JTS's assertion that the Union has acted unlawfully to harm JTS's business prospects since then.

In describing the facts underlying this dispute, the court relies solely on the allegations of JTS's amended complaint, without suggesting an opinion as to the truth of those allegations. The amended complaint was the result of the court's November 4, 2013 order dismissing Plaintiff's original complaint. In that order (Dkt. # 11), the court dismissed with prejudice JTS's claims against the City of Seattle, and directed Plaintiff to replead and substantially clarify its claims against Union.

JTS asserts that shortly after the Union terminated the CBA, employees at Seattle City Light (the City's electric power utility) told JTS that it would no longer use JTS's services because it no longer had a relationship with the Union. Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 22, 40-47. The amended complaint contains no specific allegation of a Union representative pressuring the City to take action against JTS, but JTS infers that Union representatives did so based on various statements from City representatives. JTS contends that the City reduced the amount of work it allocated to JTS, eventually forcing JTS to stop working with City Light. Id. ¶¶ 63-67.

The Union's efforts to cause others not to work with JTS were not confined to Seattle City Light. JTS attempted to secure work with Centralia City Light. A Union representative "complained to [Centralia City Light] on using JTS." Amend. Compl. ¶ 56. A Union representative attempted to "block JTS from becoming a Certified Training Agent for Tree Trimmers through the Washington State Apprenticeship program." Id. ¶ 61. Another union representative informed another JTS customer, Tanner Electric, of liens that existed against JTS. Id. ¶ 62. The union representative also allegedly made misstatements to Tanner Electric, including that JTS no longer paid its workers prevailing wages and that it had been barred from working for Seattle City Light.

JTS also asserts that the Union pressured JTS's employees to leave the company. Amend. Compl. ¶¶ 49, 57. Those allegations were apparently the subject of a complaint that JTS made to the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB"). Id. ¶ 58. The NLRB concluded its investigation of the complaint after the Union agreed that it would "no longer discriminate against JTS employees and that [the Union] would not retaliate [sic] or blackball any JTS employees." Id. ¶ 60.

JTS attempts to state three causes of action based on these allegations. It contends that the Union violated Section 8(b) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") both by attempting to convince third parties to stop working with JTS and by attempting to convince JTS employees to leave the company. It also contends that the Union committed trade libel by making false statements about JTS, including that "JTS lacked the capability to do certain work, ..., w[as] not allowed to do work for City Light, or w[as] having financial difficulties...." Amend. Compl. ¶ 80. Finally, it contends that the Union violated the Washington Consumer Protection Act (RCW Ch. 19.86, "CPA") by "pressuring City Light, among others, to limit the work given to JTS..., to alter historical business policies and practices that would place a small company like JTS at a significant competitive disadvantage, including changes in supervisory requirements, having JTS work inspected by competitors on behalf of City Light, to require excessive and groundless callbacks on work completed, changing invoicing requirements, and unilaterally changing payment terms intended to put JTS at a disadvantage compared to its larger unionized competitors." Id. ¶ 85.

The Union asks the court to dismiss each of these causes of action for failure to state a claim. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6).


The court stated the standards applicable to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss in its November order, and declines to repeat them here.

The court observes that JTS has barely opposed the Union's motion to dismiss. JTS's three-page opposition brief does not cite a single assertion of its amended complaint, cites no case law that is applicable to any of its three causes of action, and ignores almost all of the arguments the Union made in its motion to dismiss. If the court could grant a motion to dismiss merely ...

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