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DONOVAN v. LOCAL 119

September 20, 1982

RAYMOND J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor
v.
LOCAL 119, INTERNATIONAL UNION OF ELECTRICAL, RADIO & MACHINE WORKERS, AFL-CIO, CLC


Weiner, Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINER

WEINER, J.

 This is an action by the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) against Local 119, International Union of Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers, AFL-CIO, CLC (Local), pursuant to § 402(b) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. § 482(b) (Act or LMRDA), alleging violation of § 401(e) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 481(e). The Secretary contends that the Local imposed unreasonable qualifications for union office holding by requiring candidates to attend at least one-third of regular union membership meetings for each of the preceding two years (meeting attendance rule), and requiring candidates for Chief Steward to be stewards at the time of their nomination and election (current office holder rule). As a result of his failure to satisfy the meeting attendance rule, Local member Albert Lacy (Lacy) was ineligible for the position of Sectional Board Member representing Section 7. Failing to meet the current office holder rule, Local member Kenneth Kelley (Kelley) was ineligible for the position of Chief Steward. The Secretary now seeks to void the election of October 7, 1981, by which Local members selected certain officers, including those positions for which Lacy and Kelley were ineligible. A "Stipulation of Facts and Documents" was submitted to the court following the testimony presented at trial. For the reasons which follow, we find in favor of the Secretary with regard to both the meeting attendance rule and the current office holder rule, and order that a new election for the positions of Sectional Board Member representing Section 7, and Chief Steward, be held within 120 days.

 I.

 Local 119 is the recognized collective bargaining representative of the employees of General Electric Company at two plants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one plant in Collingdale, Pennsylvania, and one plant in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The Local is governed by the Constitution of the International Union of Electrical Workers and by the Local's Constitution and By-Laws. Pursuant to the Local's Constitution, election of officers, including President, Vice-President, Financial-Secretary, Secretary-Treasurer, Trustees, Sergeant-at-Arms, Chief Stewards, and Sectional Board Members is held the first Wednesday of October of every odd-numbered year. It is the election of October 7, 1981 that is at issue in this case. Every December, the members of the Local elect Stewards.

 The Local's Constitution and By-Laws provide that "illness of a member may be counted as an excuse for not attending the required number of meetings . . ." (Article VIII(2) Section A), and that a member serving in the military or governmental voluntary agency such as the Peace Corps will be considered as having met the meeting attendance rule (Article VIII(2) Section H).

 At the September 13, 1981 meeting, Alberty Lacy nominated himself for the position of Sectional Board Member. The duties of Sectional Board Member include the handling of grievances and sitting on the Executive Board, which makes decisions between membership meetings when necessary. Lacy sought office as an independent, and was not affiliated with any party or slate.

 Because he had not attended at least four meetings in each of the two preceding years, the Local's Election Board, which is elected at a membership meeting to supervise an upcoming election, found Lacy ineligible for office. Lacy had attended a sufficient number of meetings to be eligible for office in 1975, 1977 and 1979, and because he wanted to find out about procedures for running for union office had obtained and read a copy of the Local Constitution and By-Laws in March 1979. In 1980 Lacy attended no meetings, nor made any attempt to do so. He was laid off the entire year, and was not unable to attend any meetings because he had to work.

 On October 8, 1981, Lacy filed an objection to the 1981 election with the Local's Recording Secretary. Neither the Local nor the International Union of Electrical Workers ruled on Lacy's objections and on or about January 17, 1982, Lacy filed a complaint with the Department of Labor, pursuant to § 402(a) (2) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 482(a) (2), which provides for such action. *fn1"

 Article VIII(2), Section E of the Local's Constitution and By-Laws states that "[a] Chief Steward, in order to be eligible for nomination, must be a Steward at the time of nomination and election." At the September 13, 1981 membership meeting, Kenneth Kelley was nominated for the office of Chief Steward, factory night shift. In the summer of 1981 Kelley accepted a transfer to a higher paying position in a different section at the same plant. Kelley understood that in accordance with the Local's policy, he would be required to step down from the positions of Steward and Sectional Board Member for Section 2, which he then held. Because he was not a steward at the time of his nomination for Chief Steward, Kelley was found ineligible for that position by the Local's Election Board.

 Kelley was affiliated with the party slate of the incumbent President of the Local. The election for Chief Steward was won by a candidate opposing that slate.

 Membership in the Local has decreased from 4509 in August, 1973 to 1142 in August, 1982. Local 119's membership during the 1981 election was 1446, as compared to 1811 in 1979 and 2150 in 1977. The number of members eligible to run for office during the 1981 election was 83, as compared to 102 in 1979 and 119 in 1977.

 Because of the substantial reduction in the work force at General Electric in the period since October, 1981, the total disbursements of Local 119 have exceeded the total cash receipts by $13,336.71. Due to the lay-offs of Local members, the cash assets of the Local have been depleted from $94,313.99 in January, 1978 to $63,564.02 in May, 1982. Local 119 ...


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