the effective pension enrollment date contained in the Order accompanying this Opinion. Since such deceased miners would have received their pensions from first day of the month following the dates of authorization had it not been for the illegal requirement, the Court finds that the estates of such miners are entitled to receive pension installments accrued from the first day of the month following the dates of denial to the dates of death.
In passing, the Court wishes to note that with respect to prospective pension benefits, the parties are agreed that any enrollment of plaintiffs as pensioners of the Fund should be effective as of the beginning of the month during which this Opinion and its accompanying Order are issued.
D. Section 302 of the Taft-Hartley Act Requires That Each Pension Applicant Have Worked a Minimum Period of Time for an Employer Signatory to the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1950, But As Applied to the Plaintiffs in the Cases At Bar, Such Requirement Is Met By One Year's Service With a Signatory Employer At Any Time During the Applicant's Employment in the Coal Industry, After May 28, 1946.
The final question for determination is whether Section 302(c) (5) of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186, requires some significant period of employment with an employer signatory to the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1950 before an applicant is entitled to pension payments from the Fund. Section 302 of the Act originated as an anti-bribery statute designed to restrict payments by employers to unions and union officials. Paragraph (c) (5) allows an exemption for employer payments to trust funds established for the benefit of employees, and providing for pensions on retirement or death.
In Roark, the Court found that Section 302 requires "that each pensioner have some history of contributory employment."
This was based on the rationale that the purpose of the Section to prevent bribery while at the same time permitting legitimate pension plan agreements is furthered when the plan to which the employer contributes is one "which the employer might himself have established in his own economic interest."
A contributing employer's economic interest would obviously not include the payment of benefits to persons never having been in his employ.
The defendant, in oral argument, contended that the Court in Roark set down a minimum of five years as a significant period of contributory employment.
Plaintiffs, in oral argument, took the position that while some period of contributory employment may indeed be required, a period of one year's service with a signatory employer is sufficient.
Initially, it should be noted that the defendants' argument as to a five year contributory service requirement was not raised by way of written pleadings, but was first brought to the Court's attention by way of oral argument held during the final stages of this litigation. While this fact in itself raises some doubts as to the propriety of the introduction of the issue into the cases at bar, the Court recognizes the necessity to deal with the issue because of the importance ascribed to it in the Roark decision. However, the Court is of the opinion that the five year period mentioned by the Court in Roark was set forth as a guideline to the Trustees, and was not intended to stand as a minimum requirement for pension eligibility.
Section 302(c) (5) does not designate any length of time constituting a significant period of contributory employment. The five year period set forth by the Court of Appeals in Roark was apparently influenced to a substantial degree by the Court's study of the Digest of 100 Selected Pension Plans under Collective Bargaining, Labor Bulletin No. 1435, which had been made a part of the record in that case, and which indicated that most multi-employer plans containing a signatory last employment requirement also required a period of contributory employment in excess of five years.
The Court indicated that if the Trustees wished to utilize a signatory last employment requirement, such requirement could only be valid when coupled with a minimum of five years' contributory employment. This Court does not interpret the Court of Appeals' language to mean that five years' contributory service is required where there is no signatory last employment requirement coupled with it.
In the cases at bar, the Court has already held that the signatory last employment requirement as applied to the plaintiffs was invalid. In absence of that requirement, the Court is of the opinion that the five year period of contributory employment as set forth by the Court of Appeals in Roark is not applicable here. Recognizing the need for some significant period of contributory employment, this Court has determined that with respect to these plaintiffs, a period of one year's contributory employment at any time after May 28, 1946 is sufficient to meet the requirements of the Taft-Hartley Act.
A one year contributory employment requirement is appropriate for a number of reasons. At the time plaintiffs' applications were denied, the Trustees themselves were under the apparent understanding that one year was sufficient under the Taft-Hartley Act in that the signatory last employment requirement applied to the last full year prior to retirement. The Trustees' error was not the requirement of one year's contributory employment, but the requirement that the one year of contributory service be rendered the year immediately preceding retirement. Second, the equities in this matter are clearly with the plaintiffs. They have been without any form of relief for the several years during which these and other actions throughout the Court have been pending. No more than one year's contributory service was required at the dates their pension applications were denied, and for the Court to impose a longer requirement at this late date would only serve to deny unjustly the relief to which some of the plaintiffs would otherwise be entitled.
Finally, the plaintiffs themselves have recognized a one year's requirement of contributory employment as being reasonable under the circumstances and as being sufficient to meet the requirements of the Taft-Hartley Act.
In accordance with the aforegoing, the Court finds as a matter of law that plaintiff Kiser, the Kiser class and the intervening plaintiffs in Civil Action No. 2599-70, by virtue of their support of plaintiff Kiser's motion, are entitled to summary judgment. Plaintiff Moore and the intervening plaintiffs in Civil Action No. 2088-71, by virtue of their adoption of plaintiff Moore's motion, are similarly entitled to summary judgment. An appropriate order covering the plaintiffs and intervening plaintiffs in both actions shall be issued consistent with this opinion.