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BACHOWSKI v. BRENNAN

December 19, 1975

Walter BACHOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
Peter BRENNAN, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, and United Steelworkers of America, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUMBAULD

 In response to revelations regarding unsavory practices in the management of labor unions, Congress enacted the "Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959", *fn1" commonly known as LMRDA or the Landrum-Griffin Act, to purify the process of collective bargaining by ensuring that unions were genuinely representative of the interests of their membership, and not exploited for the private advantage of corrupt labor tycoons. The original bill dealing with this subject was introduced on January 20, 1959, by Senator John F. Kennedy to "protect workers, employers, honest unions, and the general public from the unscrupulous or dictatorial tactics of the few racketeers." *fn2" Even in that first draft of the legislation there was contained a provision practically identical with Section 402 as enacted (29 U.S.C.A. § 482) providing for enforcement of the statutory provisions to ensure honest democratic elections by means of a suit brought by the Secretary of Labor, and a new election under his supervision if violations are proved. *fn3"

 The House passed a bill authorizing suit by individual union members rather than by the Secretary. *fn4" In conference the Senate version was accepted. *fn5"

 Section 402 of Title IV of the Act (73 Stat. 534, 29 U.S.C.A. § 482) provides:

 
Sec. 402(a) A member of a labor organization --
 
(1) who has exhausted the remedies available under the constitution and bylaws of such organization and of any parent body, or
 
(2) who has invoked such available remedies without obtaining a final decision within three calendar months after their invocation,
 
may file a complaint with the Secretary within one calendar month thereafter alleging the violation of any provision of section 401 (including violation of the constitution and bylaws of the labor organization pertaining to the election and removal of officers). The challenged election shall be presumed valid pending a final decision thereon (as hereinafter provided) and in the interim the affairs of the organization shall be conducted by the officers elected or in such other manner as its constitution and bylaws may provide.
 
(b) The Secretary shall investigate such complaint and, if he finds probable cause to believe that a violation of this title has occurred and has not been remedied, he shall, within sixty days after the filing of such complaint, bring a civil action against the labor organization as an entity in the district court of the United States in which such labor organization maintains its principal office to set aside the invalid election, if any, and to direct the conduct of an election or hearing and vote upon the removal of officers under the supervision of the Secretary and in accordance with the provisions of this title and such rules and regulations as the Secretary may prescribe. The court shall have power to take such action as it deems proper to preserve the assets of the labor organization.
 
(1) that an election has not been held within the time prescribed by section 401, or
 
(2) that the violation of section 401 may have affected the outcome of an election,
 
the court shall declare the election, if any, to be void and direct the conduct of a new election under supervision of the Secretary and, so far as lawful and practicable, in conformity with the constitution and bylaws of the labor organization. The Secretary shall promptly certify to the court the names of the persons elected, and the court shall thereupon enter a decree declaring such persons to be the officers of the labor organization. If the proceeding is for the removal of officers pursuant to subsection (h) of section 401, the Secretary shall certify the results of the vote and the court shall enter a decree declaring whether such persons have been removed as officers of the labor organization.
 
(d) An order directing an election, dismissing a complaint, or designating elected officers of a labor organization shall be appealable in the same manner as the final judgment in a civil action, but an order directing an election shall not be stayed pending appeal. *fn6"

 Subsequent decisions by the Supreme Court interpreting the Act established that the remedy of suit by the Secretary is exclusive with respect to claims of violation after an election has been held, and that individual union members have no standing to sue in their own right. *fn7" They may intervene in a suit brought by the Secretary but may not expand the scope of the issues involved by introducing new questions. *fn8" Apparently the Secretary ...


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