Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

MONBORNE v. UMW

May 10, 1972

Edward Monborne et al., Plaintiffs
v.
United Mine Workers of America et al., Defendants


McCune, D. J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCCUNE

McCUNE, D. J.

 This is an action by certain members of the United Mine Workers of America (hereinafter UMW) brought under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, § 304, 29 U.S.C.A. § 464 (hereinafter LMRDA) seeking the dissolution of an alleged trusteeship imposed by the United Mine Workers of America on District 2 of the United Mine Workers of America. Defendant UMW has moved to dismiss the complaint for legal insufficiency and lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, defendants' motion to dismiss is denied and plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment is granted.

 Jurisdiction is in this court under authority of § 304(b) of the LMRDA. The admitted principal place of business of the organization in trusteeship (District 2 UMW) is Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, a city within the Western District of Pennsylvania. The agents of the defendant UMW, appointed to operate District 2, conduct the affairs of the district from the Ebensburg Offices.

 The background of this litigation is immersed in the history of the UMW which is found in the exhibits to the affidavit of John Owen, Secretary-Treasurer of the UMW, submitted by defendants in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Consideration of the briefs and the arguments of counsel leads to a conclusion that the parties do not seriously dispute the factual accuracy of Owens' affidavit and the numerous exhibits attached to his affidavit.

 From an early time (the early 1920's) the UMW was divided into geographical areas called districts. These districts operated in largely independent fashion. The result was considered unsatisfactory because varying levels of wages existed in various districts. In the 1920's several districts suffered as well as a consequence of corrupt or incompetent officers and the operation of these districts was assumed by the UMW. The economic effect of the depression of the 1930's jeopardized many other districts requiring the UMW to assume supervision of them and finally almost all districts were under the control of the International Union including District 2. Only a few districts remained autonomous. The excerpts from UMW Conventions attached as exhibits to the affidavit of John Owens reveal the circumstances that resulted in the supervision of almost all districts and the fear of the International officers that a return of autonomy to the districts would lead to corruption and a disparity in basic wage levels in the various districts. The national leadership frequently spoke of its belief that the exercise of autonomy in the various districts had not produced a strong central union and the leadership, while espousing a democratic form of district control decided to return control of the districts to its members within its sole discretion. In fact the idea that centralized control was essential to the welfare of the union was hammered home by the national leadership each time the issue of autonomy was raised at every national convention from 1934 to 1968. The theme was that autonomy should be available but only at such time and under such conditions as the national leadership deemed appropriate. It does not appear that there was any intention to make any change in the fundamental structure of the UMW, that is to make the union into a two-tiered rather than three-tiered organization. It was to remain a three-tiered organization (the international, the various districts and the locals within the districts) and districts were to have autonomy but only when the leadership was satisfied that it should be granted.

 The enactment of the LMRDA followed the uncovering by the McClellan Committee of corrupt and oppressive conditions in some unions. The LMRDA contains various provisions designed to remedy these problems. Essential to the remedial scheme is the assurance of functional democratic procedures within unions. Titles I (Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations), III (Trusteeships), and IV (Elections) of LMRDA are all concerned with the fostering and preservation of democracy within unions. We are directly concerned only with Title III in this litigation.

 The committee reports, S. Rep. No. 187, 87th Cong., 1st Session, p. 16-17, H.R. Rep. No. 741, 87th Cong., 1st Session, p. 13-14, recognized the importance of trusteeships to insure order within unions but also recognized the danger inherent in trusteeships:

 
"However, labor history and the hearings of the McClellan committee demonstrate that in some instances trusteeships have been used as a means of consolidating the power of corrupt union officers, plundering and dissipating the resources of local unions, and preventing the growth of competing political elements within the organization." HR. Rep. No. 741, 87 Cong., 1st Sess., p. 13.

 The Congress concluded that existing remedies were inadequate to offset the potential for abuse in this area. It therefore provided in section 302 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C.A. § 462 certain general limitations on the reasons for which a parent union could legitimately impose trusteeship on a subordinate body.

 
" Trusteeships shall be established and administered by a labor organization over a subordinate body only in accordance with the constitution and bylaws of the organization which has assumed trusteeship over the subordinate body and for the purpose of correcting corruption or financial malpractice, assuring the performance of collective bargaining agreements or other duties of a bargaining representative, restoring democratic procedures, or otherwise carrying out the legitimate objects of such labor organization." 29 U.S.C.A. § 462.

 The LMRDA allows enforcement either by the Secretary of Labor bringing suit, or by the individual union members bringing suit:

 
"(a) Upon a written complaint of any member or subordinate body of a labor organization alleging that such organization has violated the provisions of this title (except Section 301) the Secretary shall investigate the complaint and if the Secretary finds probable cause to believe that such violation has occurred and has not been remedied he shall, without disclosing the identity of the complainant, bring a civil action in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the labor organization. . . . Any member or subordinate body of a labor organization affected by any violation of this title ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.