The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERMAN
Plaintiffs, five members of Ice Machinery Independent Employees' Association, hereinafter called "Union," and all of them delegates representing various units of the Union have brought this action against the Union and against Arthur Rider, Jr., Financial Secretary, James Raub, Treasurer, Irwin Swartzbaugh, Recording Secretary, and thirteen named delegates alleging
a violation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. § 401, et seq., more particularly §§ 411 and 412.
Section 411, known as the Bill of Rights for members of Labor organizations, provides, in relevant part:
"(a)(1) Equal rights. -- Every member of a labor organization shall have equal rights and privileges within such organization to nominate candidates, to vote in elections or referendums of the labor organization, to attend membership meetings, and to participate in the deliberations and voting upon the business of such meetings, subject to reasonable rules and regulations in such organization's constitution and bylaws.
"(2) Freedom of speech and assembly. -- Every member of any labor organization shall have the right to meet and assemble freely with other members; and to express any views, arguments, or opinions; and to express at meetings of the labor organization his views, upon candidates in an election of the labor organization or upon any business properly before the meeting, subject to the organization's established and reasonable rules pertaining to the conduct of meetings: Provided, That nothing herein shall be construed to impair the right of a labor organization to adopt and enforce reasonable rules as to the responsibility of every member toward the organization as an institution and to his refraining from conduct that would interfere with its performance of its legal or contractual obligations."
The background of this intra-labor organization dispute is essential to an understanding of the matter before us.
The Ice Machinery Independent Employees' Association is an independent union composed of approximately 2,000 members, of which approximately 100 generally attend union meetings. Officers, consisting of a President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Financial Secretary, and Treasurer, as well as delegates are elected at an "Election Poll" in November of each even-numbered year for a two-year term and serve until their successors "are duly elected, or until they have been removed from office according to other provisions" of the By-Laws.
Section 1 of Article II of the Constitution and By-Laws provides that "The Association shall be governed, directed and represented by a Board, composed of the Officers of the Association, and a Board of Delegates not to exceed a total of forty (40)."
Testimony reveals that at the 1970 election, 23 delegates were duly elected but the names of only 20 appear in the proceedings: John Piho; Marlyn Geesey; Joseph Hoffman; Donald Keene; Victor Zech; Willie L. Allen; Benton Senft II; Gerald Krebs; George Onley; Robert Wisner; Philip Reever; Roland Miller, Jr.; Ray Axe; Elmer Markel; Luther Geiselman; John Hess; D.C. Melhorn; Dean Rentzel; Thomas Harleman; Morgan Irwin.
These 5 officers and 20 delegates (with perhaps 3 other unnamed delegates) composed the governing board for the Union at the beginning of the unfortunate intra-union squabble which might have had its genesis in the selection of a general counsel.
Although there are no minutes available, it is said that there was a special meeting of the Board of Delegates on February 5th at which the Board voted to suspend Swartzbaugh, Recording Secretary; Arthur Rider, Jr., Financial Secretary; and James Raub, Treasurer. It is further said that at a meeting or hearing on or about the 14th of February these officers were reinstated.
It is averred that on March 12th the Board of Delegates again met
and suspended these same three officers, and in addition suspended 13 delegates. It is not clear whether such meeting was ever held, and if it was held, where it was held and what actually transpired. However, defendants' Exhibit 10 (Minutes) reveals that on March 26, 1971 the special meeting called by the notice (Defendants' Exhibit 9) was held and in attendance were the duly elected President and Vice President and the newly appointed Recording Secretary, Treasurer, and Financial Secretary. Thirteen delegates, only six of whom had been duly elected, were present as were seven others purportedly appointed by the President. The suspended officers and delegates failed to appear. Apparently no testimony was taken for or against the removal of the officers and delegates, the minutes showing merely that the charge against them was read;
that the President asked if anyone wanted to speak on behalf of any of them; a vote was taken, and all 13 delegates present including the plaintiffs in this suit voted to remove all of the accused officers and delegates.
Meanwhile, on or about the first day of March 1971, the 13 delegates and 3 officers, the named defendants in the present action, met with several other Union members
and drew up detailed charges against Lewis J. Bievenour, the President of the Union, and against George McEachern, the Vice President. Averring, in the case of the President, that he pursued a policy of " complete dictatorial tactics"; filed false and unfounded unfair labor practice charges against the company for his own personal and selfish promotions and without approval of the other officers or the delegates; established new units contrary to the Union Constitution and By-Laws, and then appointed delegates to represent such units; made false and malicious statements to the Press to the detriment of the Union; and in violation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, suspended Swartzbaugh, ...