Employer Benefit Payments to Union Plan Required Regardless of Union Coverage

July 18, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal judge in New York has ruled that a highway striping company must make benefit contributions for all employees covered under a union agreement - even if the workers are not members.

U.S. District Judge John T. Curtin of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York ruled that non-union employees of Accent Stripe of Orchard Park near Buffalo should be awarded unpaid benefits that had been paid to union employees under the collective bargaining pact.

Curtin’s ruling came in a suit by a health and welfare fund run by theLaborers International Union of North America Local 210, charging that it should have received benefit dollars for non-union workers in the same way it had for union employees.

For its part, the company countered that benefits were paid directly to employees not covered by the union. An audit found $387,964.23 was owed in delinquent benefit contributions, according to the ruling.

Curtin noted that employees who work in an environment under a union agreement’s jurisdiction should be considered covered employees, regardless of union membership.

As of June 15, the union fund was seeking $865,018.18 in damages, including the delinquent benefits payment, interest, and audit and legal fees, according to court documents. The employer responded by labeling the union estimate “inflated.”