The U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief urging the Sixth Circuit to grant rehearing en banc to clarify the standard for determining whether a collective bargaining agreement entitles retirees to vested healthcare benefits for life.
In M&G Polymers USA LLC v. Tackett, 135 S.Ct. 926 (2015), the Supreme Court attempted to restore clarity and uniformity to the interpretation of collective bargaining agreements and plans providing retiree health benefits by unanimously rejecting the Sixth Circuit’s outlier rule established by UAW v. Yard-Man, Inc., 716 F.2d 1476 (6th Cir. 1983), which, as the Supreme Court stated, improperly “plac[ed] a thumb on the scale in favor of vested retiree benefits in all collective bargaining agreements.” In Reese v. CNH Industrial N.V., a Sixth Circuit panel majority effectively undid what Tackett accomplished, once again creating uncertainty and unpredictability within the Sixth Circuit and a split across circuits.
The Chamber’s brief urges the Sixth Circuit to review the Reese case en banc. The brief explains that the panel majority’s decision has created confusion and conflict within the Sixth Circuit and with other circuits, and that employers and employees cannot meaningfully bargain or reliably plan for the future in the chaotic legal environment that the Sixth Circuit has created.
This brief was filed jointly with the American Benefits Council.
Stanley Weiner and Glen D. Nager of Jones Day served as co-counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.