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PHILADELPHIA DIV., PENNSYLVANIA TEL. GUILD v. PENN

September 30, 1983

PHILADELPHIA DIVISION, PENNSYLVANIA TELEPHONE GUILD, et al.
v.
PENNSYLVANIA TELEPHONE GUILD, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAPIRO

 NORMA L. SHAPIRO, J.

 1. The instant complaint was filed on April 13, 1982.

 2. The complaint alleged violations of Titles I and V of the LMRDA and Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.

 3. On April 15, 1982, a preliminary injunction hearing was held on this matter and on November 18, 1982 a final hearing was held. In the interim, the parties engaged in discovery.

 4. On April 15, 1982, December 20, 1982, and January 5, 1983, the court issued Orders in the case. On December 20, 1982, the court rendered its Opinion in this matter.

 5. The court held, inter alia, that defendants had violated their fiduciary responsibilities under Title V of the LMRDA. The court ordered that a referendum be conducted among the membership of the Pennsylvania Telephone Guild at which time the membership of the Guild would be entitled to vote either for a proposal submitted by District 38 of the Guild, a proposal submitted by the Executive Council of the Guild, or against both proposals. After a mail ballot held in accordance with the court's Orders of January 5, February 10 and February 24, 1983, neither proposal carried by the requisite majority of the membership.

 6. As a result of the Opinion and Orders of this court, in providing an opportunity for the membership to vote on its proposal, plaintiffs were prevailing parties in this matter but only in part.

 The court's Order prevented a vote only on the Executive Council proposed constitutional amendment affiliating the Guild with the Telecommunications International Union ("TIU") but permitted the membership to vote on that proposal together with a constitutional amendment proposed by plaintiffs that would have affiliated the Guild with the Federation of Telephone Workers of Pennsylvania ("FTWP"). Plaintiffs had opposed a vote on the Executive Council proposal and contended the plaintiffs' proposal required only a favorable majority of those voting. But the court held that each of these proposals, if adopted, would have affected the affiliation Article (XII) as well as other provisions of the present constitution and that, in order for either proposal to be adopted, it had to receive an affirmative vote of a majority of the entire membership not just a majority of those voting.

 The court also held that the Executive Council members breached their fiduciary duty as union officials and violated the Guild Constitution because they did not submit the District 38 petition to a vote of the membership before or at the same time as the Executive Council's proposed TIU affiliation amendment. Although the court agreed with the defendants that any affiliation proposal required a majority vote of the entire membership, it held that neither this reason nor any other reason given by the Executive Council members justified a refusal to submit the District 38 amendment proposal to the membership for vote.

 7. Section 501(b) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 501(b), states that the trial judge "may allot a reasonable part of the recovery in any action under this subsection to pay the fees of counsel." The use of the word "may" indicates the granting of attorneys' fees is not mandatory or automatic and that the trial judge may, in her discretion, award them or not award them or award some portion of them. Under Section 501(b), an Award of Fees and Expenses is justified where the results of an action under Title V of the LMRDA have conferred a substantial benefit on the membership of the union.

 9. In Hughes v. Repko, 578 F.2d 483 (3d Cir. 1978), the Court of Appeals held that in order to determine the "prevailing party" the district court should analyze results obtained by the petitioning party in particular claims; in the present context the prevailing party on a particular claim is one who essentially succeeded on such claim. In calculating the fee in connection with successful claims, the district court will award attorneys' fees ...


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