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Pacific Maritime Ass'n v. National Labor Relations Board

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 20, 2012

PACIFIC MARITIME ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff,
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Defendant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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David R. Broderdorf, II, Howard Marc Radzely, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Eric Gray Moskowitz, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, District Judge.

This case arises out of a dispute between two labor unions: the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 48, AFL-CIO (" the IBEW" ) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (" the ILWU" ). The plaintiff, Pacific Maritime Association (" PMA" ), is a " multi-employer collective bargaining agent" for " stevedore companies, marine terminal operators and maintenance contractors who employ longshoremen and other categories of dockworkers." Compl. for Declaratory & Injunctive Relief (" Compl." ) ¶ 5, ECF No. 1. One of PMA's members is ICTSI Oregon, Inc. (" ICTSI" ), which is the operator of Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland (" the Port" ). Statement of P. & A. in Supp. Def.'s Mot. Transfer Venue (" Def.'s Mem." ) at 2, ECF No. 12-1. The PMA and the ILWU asserted in early 2012 that their collective bargaining agreement requires ICTSI to assign certain disputed " reefer work" to ILWU-represented employees.[1] Id. At the same time, the Port and the IBEW have claimed that the Terminal 6 lease agreement between IBEW and the Port requires the same work to be assigned to IBEW-represented employees. Id.

In May 2012, this dispute culminated with the ILWU filing unfair labor practice charges with the defendant National Labor Relations Board (the " Board" ) against the IBEW. See Compl. ¶ 14. Following an administrative investigation, four days of hearings before a Board hearing officer in Portland, and the submission of the hearing officer's report on the hearings, the Board issued a decision on August 13, 2012, pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 160(k), which granted the disputed work to the IBEW-represented employees. Id. ¶ 27; see Def.'s Mem. at 5. In June 2012, while the Board's decision was still pending, the PMA and the ILWU filed a civil action in the District of Oregon against ICTSI, seeking to enforce certain arbitration awards that had determined that the disputed

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reefer work should be performed by ILWU employees. See Def.'s Mem. at 2-3. That action and at least two other related actions are currently pending before the same judge in the District of Oregon. Def.'s Mem. at 6-7.

In the instant action, the plaintiff challenges the validity of the Board's August 13, 2012 decision on the grounds that " the Board acted in excess of its delegated powers and contrary to specific statutory language." Compl. ¶ 43. The defendant has moved to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, though that motion is not yet ripe for decision. See ECF No. 20. Presently pending before the Court is the defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue, ECF No. 12, and for the reasons discussed below, the Court grants that motion.[2]

I. VENUE MAY BE ADDRESSED BEFORE SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION IS DETERMINED

First, the Court will discuss whether it is appropriate to address the question of venue before deciding the defendant's challenge to the Court's subject-matter jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court has firmly established that " a federal court has leeway ‘ to choose among threshold grounds for denying audience to a case on the merits.’ " Sinochem Int'l Co. v. Malay. Int'l Shipping Corp.,549 U.S. 422, 431, 127 S.Ct. 1184, 167 L.Ed.2d 15 (2007) (quoting Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 585, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 143 L.Ed.2d 760 (1999)). In Sinochem, the Court held that " a district court has discretion to respond at once to a defendant's forum non conveniens plea, and need not take up first any other threshold objection," including " whether it has authority to adjudicate the cause." Id. at 425, 127 S.Ct. 1184. The unanimous Court reasoned that " [d]ismissal short of reaching the merits means that the court will not ‘ proceed at all’ to an ...


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