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SEMANCIK v. UMW

April 15, 1971

Mike Semancik et al., Plaintiffs
v.
United Mine Workers Of America, Michael Encrapera et al., Plaintiffs v. United Mine Workers Of America, Louis Antal et al., Plaintiffs v. United Mine Workers Of America,


Weber, D. J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

WEBER, D. J.:

These three consolidated cases arise out of a deep division in the ranks of District #5, United Mine Workers of America, which reached a critical point in the December 8, 1970 election of District Officers. The parties to this division are represented by the supporters of Michael Budzanoski, the incumbent president, and the opposing faction known as the Miners for Democracy who supported rival candidates.

 The machinery of the election was the subject of a prior action in this court in which the Miners for Democracy faction contested the manner of adoption of certain amendments to the District 5 Constitution and the consequent use of absentee ballots in the forthcoming election. ( Antal et al. v. Budzanoski et al., 320 F. Supp. 161 (1970)). This Court dismissed the prior action for lack of jurisdiction and the matter is now before the Court of Appeals.

 Subsequent to December 8, 1970 the outcome of the election was still undetermined and the incumbent officers remained in control. Three sets of disciplinary proceedings were set in motion by the filing of charges before the Executive Board of the District. The Executive Board at the time of the filing of charges consisted of incumbent officers, all of whom were opposed for reelection.

 The first set of charges against the plaintiffs Semancik and Pappas were filed by a union member, Joseph Budzanoski, brother of incumbent president Michael Budzanoski. It alleged that during the election campaign the two had subscribed to an affidavit which was printed and circulated by candidates opposing the incumbents, and which recited that one Joe Budzanoski, father of incumbent president Michael Budzanoski and long since deceased, had been a strikebreaker in 1927 and had contributed to the loss of the strike in the coal mines at that time.

 These two plaintiffs were served with charges and a notice of hearing to be held on February 8, 1971.

 The charges were made under the provisions of the recently adopted Amendment to the District 5 Constitution which provided in its pertinent part:

 
Article X, Section 10:
 
" . . . any member or members resorting to dishonest or questionable practices to secure the election or defeat of any candidate for district office shall be tried by the district executive board and fined, suspended or expelled as the magnitude of the transgression may warrant."

 A hearing was held on a motion for preliminary injunction to restrain the executive board from carrying out the disciplinary hearing. The testimony revealed that the results of the December 8, 1970 election had not yet been decided, that ballots had been impounded by the Secretary of Labor, investigations were being conducted, and that the membership of the executive board were incumbent officers whose continuation in office was at stake in the election. The plaintiffs' testimony showed that they were retired members of the UMW now receiving UMW pensions and that they believed that the penalty of dismissal provided for in the disciplinary action could result in the loss of their pensions. Both plaintiffs were supporters of the candidates who opposed the incumbent officers. The testimony revealed a genuine fear of reprisal or retaliatory action by the plaintiffs and other members of the union for their participation in the election against incumbent officers.

 The court granted the preliminary injunction restraining the carrying out of disciplinary action against these two plaintiffs until the final disposition of the case.

 Following this Order the defendant District 5 UMWA, instituted a second disciplinary proceeding against plaintiffs Yablonski and Encrapera. Again the charges were filed by Joseph Budzanoski, brother of the incumbent president, and were made on the grounds that these plaintiffs had procured the affidavit recited in the first case and had printed and circulated it together with the legend "Joe Budzanoski helped destroy District 5 UMWA in the past" and "Don't let Mike Budzanoski (indicted by Federal Grand Jury) destroy our District in the future." The charges were made under the same provision of the District 5 Constitution as recited above.

 A third set of charges was filed against union members under this same constitutional provision. In the third case several members signed the charges, including incumbent president Michael Budzanoski and incumbent secretary-treasurer John Seddon. They then disqualified themselves from sitting on the executive board to hear the charges. The charges were made against Louis Antal, opposition candidate for the office of district president, and Joseph Daniels, opposition candidate for the office of secretary-treasurer, and two others.

 The complaint instituting this disciplinary action alleges that these members made false accusations among members of the union and the general public pertaining to alleged tampering with absentee ...


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