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LEWIS v. AMERICAN FEDN. OF STATE

April 9, 1968

Frederick E. Lewis, Plaintiff
v.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, Defendant


Fullam, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: FULLAM

FULLAM, D.J.:

Plaintiff has been removed from office as president of his local union and expelled from membership therein, and has brought this action for reinstatement and other equitable relief. A preliminary injunction was sought, but this aspect of the matter was resolved at hearing by a stipulation that the status quo would be maintained pending disposition of the case in this court. Ultimately, it was further agreed that the case be regarded as on final hearing, both sides having presented all of their evidence.

 On the basis of the record, I now enter the following

 Findings of Fact

 1. For many years, the membership of Local 403, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has consisted almost entirely of members of the Negro race. Until 1964, however, no Negro had held the office of president of the local, and no Negro had held a supervisory position within the department served by the local (the streets department).

 3. Shortly after the plaintiff's election in 1964, the previous incumbent, one Miller (now a Vice President of District Council 33), attempted to form a new local, to be made up of supervisory personnel. Among the persons joining in this attempt were Messrs. Mintzer, Marzano, McMurray and Farrington. The attempt was unsuccessful, but several of the supervisors resigned from Local 403.

 4. Plaintiff actively sought to correct what he regarded as "injustices" affecting the members of the local, including: (a) a practice whereby Local 403 members received only laborers' wages, even though performing the work of drivers; (b) an informal quota system for admission to city hospitals; (c) sub-standard sanitary facilities; and (d) discrimination against Local 403 members in matters of promotion and appointment to supervisory positions. Plaintiff's militancy in pursuing these objectives frequently antagonized members of District Council 33, and on several occasions he was asked to "play ball, go along with the program."

 5. On September 27, 1966, plaintiff and his local filed an action in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court (No. 3), as of No. 569, September Term, seeking to prevent District Council 33 from executing a collective-bargaining agreement with the City of Philadelphia without properly obtaining the approval of the general membership of each local, as required by the constitution of District Council 33. As a result of this litigation, Mr. Wurf, President of the international union, came to Philadelphia and conducted an election. The proposed contract was rejected by the membership.

 6. While a new contract was being negotiated and before its acceptance was voted on, the international union imposed a trusteeship on Local 403, allegedly because the plaintiff had threatened to have the local withdraw from District Council 33. The following day, November 9, 1966, Mr. Wurf, as President of the international union, by telegraphic notice suspended from office all of the officers of Local 403.

 7. After exhausting its internal remedies, Local 403, on February 10, 1967, brought an action in this Court (Civil Action 42068) seeking to remove the trusteeship and to restore to office plaintiff and the other officers.

 8. When that case was heard, on plaintiff's application for a preliminary injunction, on February 14, 1967, a lengthy conference was held in chambers before Judge Higginbotham. The pleadings reveal that Local 403 made the following assertions, under oath:

 
(a) The principal formal charge against the local and its officers was failure to pay in full the per capita dues to Council 33. This charge was first made at a hearing on November 22, 1966, at which time the Council claimed arrearages totalling $19,322.85, dating over a period since 1958. (The amount allocable to the period of plaintiff's tenure was only $3,972.45; during his tenure, the treasury of the local was increased by approximately $9,000).
 
(b) At a hearing before the executive board of the international, plaintiff was informed that the secretary-treasurer of the international, Mr. Ames, would be sent to Philadelphia to work out a fair per capita tax adjustment and to remove the trusteeship; but two weeks later Mr. Ames appeared with a formal resolution continuing the trusteeship, and a demand that the entire $19,000 arrearage claim would have to be paid before the trusteeship would be removed. *fn1"
 
(a) The trusteeship would terminate on February 21, 1967.
 
(b) The local's bank account would be restored to its pre-trusteeship condition (balance approximately $13,972.45).
 
(c) The total per capita assessment arrearage was fixed at $11,871.90, of which $3,972.45 was to be paid upon termination of the trusteeship on February 21, 1967, and the balance was to be paid at the rate of $250 per month, without interest.
 
(d) There would be "no recriminations" on either side, and both parties would thereafter conduct themselves "with the maximum degree of unity on behalf of the best interest of the members and the public interest."
 
(e) Local 403 would abide by its repeated assertions that there had not been and would not be any intention to withdraw from the Council, and that it would work within the framework of the international union.

 10. On March 13, 1967, a stipulation was filed, whereby Civil Action 42068 was dismissed without prejudice.

 11. On May 18, 1967, plaintiff was suspended from office as President of Local 403, by telegraphic order of Mr. Wurf, ...


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