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TISA v. POTOFSKY

April 14, 1950

TISA et al.
v.
POTOFSKY et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RIFKIND

Plaintiffs have moved for a temporary injunction and defendants have cross-moved for an order dismissing the action on a variety of grounds, including want of jurisdiction. Alternatively, the defendants have made a motion to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1404(a). For obvious reasons, I shall first address myself to the cross-motion. The action, which is for a permanent injunction and for a declaratory judgment, is brought by John Tisa, Armando Valdes, and Donald Henderson, three members of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union of America, hereinafter referred to as FTA, who are also, respectively, President, General Secretary-Treasurer, and National administrative Director of the FTA. Plaintiffs sue individually and as representatives of the members of FTA. The action is brought against Jacob Potofsky, Joseph Curran and Emil Mazey, individually, as members and representatives of the members of the Executive Board of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, hereinafter called CIO, and as the Trial Committee of the Executive Board of the CIO; and against Michael J. Quill, individually and as a representative of the members of said Executive Board.

Federal jurisdiction is alleged to be founded upon diversity in the citizenship of the parties, and the amount involved is said to satisfy the statutory requirement.

 Certain background allegations with respect to which there is no substantial dispute can be stated. The FTA is a national labor organization composed of many local labor unions. It is one of the national labor organizations which, in 1938, participated in the founding of the CIO. The certificate to affiliation, granted in 1938 by the CIO to the FTA (then known as the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America) contained the following clause:

 'This certificate with all of the rights and privileges appurtenant thereto is granted upon the condition that the said Union shall at all times comply with the Constitution of the Congress of Industrial Organizations: and in the event of violation thereof this Certificate may, pursuant to said Constitution, be revoked, whereupon all rights and privileges appurtenant thereto shall be annulled.'

 The following clauses in the 1938 constitution of the CIO are pertinent to this decision:

 Article III, Section 6: 'No affiliate shall be suspended or expelled, except upon a two-third vote at the convention. This provision may not be amended except by a two-third vote at the convention.'

 Article IX: 'This constitution, except as otherwise provided, may be amended by a majority vote at the convention.'

 At the November 1949 convention, the following amendment to the CIO constitution was adopted:

 Article VI, Section 10: 'The Executive Board shall have the further power, upon a two-thirds vote, to revoke the Certificate of Affiliation of or to expel or to take any other appropriate action against any national or international union or organizing committee the policies and activities of which are consistently directed toward the achievement of the program or the purposes of the Communist Party, any fascist organization, or other totalitarian movement, rather than the objectives and policies set forth in the constitution of the CIO. Any action of the Executive Board under this section may be appealed to the Convention, provided, however, that such action shall be effective when taken and shall remain in full force and effect pending the appeal.'

 Shortly after the close of the convention at which this amendment was adopted, William Steinberg, a member of the CIO Executive Board, filed charges that certain unions, including the FTA, were pursuing policies and activities 'consistently directed toward the achievement of the program or the purposes of the Communist Party rather than the objectives and policies set forth in the Constitution of the CIO,' and requested that the Executive Board take appropriate action to expel the named organizations from the CIO. Thereupon, the Executive Board authorized Philip Murray, the president of the CIO, to appoint a Trial Committee to hear the charges against the FTA and to make a report to the Executive Board recommending appropriate action. The committee was appointed and the Executive Board passed a resolution approving the president's action. On November 7, 1949, Murray, as president of the CIO, notified the FTA of the charge against it and of the appointment of the Trial Committee, wrote to the FTA, notifying it that a hearing on Steinberg's charge would be held January 6, 1950, and outlining the rules of procedure to govern the hearing.

 Papers submitted after the filing of the complaint reveal the following additional facts. Hearings were held pursuant to the above notice on January 6 and 7, 1950. Witnesses for both sides were heard. The Trial Committee also met on January 19, 1950 and February 6, 1950. In its report to the Executive Board, the Committee unanimously concluded that the 'policies and activities of the FTA are consistently directed toward the achievement of the program and the purposes of the Communist Party rather than the objectives and policies set forth in the CIO Constitution.' The Committee recommended that the Executive Board exercise its powers under Article VI, Section 10 and 'revoke the Certificate of Affiliation heretofore granted to the FTA and expel it from the CIO.'

 The Committee report was received by the Executive Board at a meeting of the Board on February 14, 1950. On February 15, 1950 the Executive Board passed a resolution adopting the Committee report and revoking the FTA'S certificate of affiliation and expelling the union, effective March 1, 1950.

 The complaint alleges that the individual defendants had entered into a conspiracy among themselves, and with other members of the Executive Board of the CIO and other persons, to seize control of the policies of the FTA, to destroy the autonomy of the FTA, to weaken FTA'S general condition by raiding and maligning it, and ultimately to expel it if it resisted and survived such attacks.

 It is further therein alleged that, in pursuance of this conspiracy, the defendants proposed and secured the passage of amendments to the CIO constitution at the November 1949 convention contrary to the principles underlying the original formation of the CIO and in violation of the contractual relations between the FTA and the CIO. The plaintiffs claim that the charges filed against FTA are void, the hearings illegal, and the Trial Committee incompetent for a variety of reasons, which will be considered below in some detail. They allege they will be irreparably injured unless a temporary injunction be granted by which defendants are restrained from continuing their conspiracy to violate the contract of affiliation between FTA and CIO, to expel the FTA from the CIO, and to injure the FTA and its members ...


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