The opinion of the court was delivered by: FEINBERG
This is a motion for a preliminary injunction brought by three members of District No. 1, National Marine Engineers Beneficial Association ('District No. 1'), on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, against District No. 1, its President or Secretary-Treasurer. The complaint alleges jurisdiction under Section 102 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (the 'Act'),
29 U.S.C. § 412. Plaintiffs ask this Court to enjoin District No. 1 from holding a general election of local union officers on the ground that plaintiffs' rights to nominate candidates, as secured to them under Section 101(a)(1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1), have been infringed. Plaintiffs also allege that defendant District No. 1 has failed to appoint an impartial administrator to supervise the forthcoming election, and claim that this failure not only violates their rights to vote under Section 101(a)(1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1), but also contravenes a provision of the District's bylaws which requires designation of an impartial administrator. Defendant has filed a cross-motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that this Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter, and that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
The important facts are not in dispute, and, as they appear from the affidavits filed by both parties, may be summarized as follows: the National Marine Engineers Beneficial Association ('NMEBA'), a national affiliate of the AFL-CIO, represents over ninety per cent of the licensed marine engineers in the United States. It is now composed of various district organizations; District No. 1, of which plaintiffs are members in good standing, has over 6,000 members. The District will hold a general election during the ninety-day period commencing September 1, 1963, and it is this election which plaintiffs seek to enjoin. Counsel have stipulated that the mailing of ballots would not of itself adversely affect or enlarge the rights and obligations of the parties to the proceeding.
Prior to January 1, 1961, NMEBA was composed of various 'locals.' At that time, a member could nominate any other member for local office, subject to certain eligibility requirements. On January 1, 1961, NMEBA was reorganized on a 'district' basis, and thereafter certain changes, of which plaintiffs complain, were made in nomination procedures and eligibility requirements for officers.
(1) Members of District No. 1 are confined to self nomination. Article X of the bylaws of District No. 1 provides:
'Elections for District-wide Offices
'Section 1. Nominations. Any member may submit his name for nomination for the offices of District President, District Vice President, Branch Agent, Patrolman * * * or Representative to the National Convention by delivery in person or sending by registered mail, a letter addressed to the Credentials Committee.'
(2) In March 1963, the national constitution of NMEBA was amended to provide that only those non-officer members who have served 180 days or more of sea time on NMEBA-contracted vessels in two of the previous three years are eligible for nomination, that no member may be a candidate for District President unless he is a full time paid official of the union, and that no member may run for District office unless he has been a member of NMEBA for five years. Article X, Section 9 of the Constitution of NMEBA provides:
'Any member shall be eligible for nomination to and election as a full time and paid elective office of a District provided he is at the time of nomination and election a member of good standing and (a) has been a member of the National Association or of any other organization which has duly affiliated with the National Association, for 5 years immediately preceding the date of closing of nominations; and (b) has been a member of the District and/or predecessor Subordinate Association for 2 years immediately preceding said date; and (c) has had either 180 days of employment on vessels covered by collective bargaining agreements with the Union during each of any 2 full calendar years of the 3 calendar years immediately preceding the closing date of nominations, or equal time served as full time and paid elected or appointed official of the National Association or of a Subordinate Association or the District or of any other organization which has duly affiliated with the National Association.
'A candidate for District President, in addition to the qualifications specified above, must have previously been elected and served as a full time and paid official of a Subordinate Association, District or of any other organization which has duly affiliated with the National Association.'
(3) Under a ruling of the Credentials Committee of District No. 1, members are prohibited from nominating themselves to more than one office.
Plaintiffs contend that the above bylaw, constitutional amendment and ruling by the Credentials Committee unreasonably deprive members of District No. 1 of their right to nominate candidates as guaranteed to them under Section 101(a) (1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1). Defendant contends that this Court is without jurisdiction to entertain this motion, that plaintiffs have made no showing warranting the relief sought, that plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their intra-union remedies, and that, in any event, plaintiffs have been guilty of laches.
Consideration of defendant's jurisdictional argument requires an examination of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, a comprehensive statute which protects the rights of union members through various remedies. Title I of the Act is entitled 'BILL OF RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF LABOR ORGANIZATIONS'. Contained within Title I is Section 101(a)(1), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1), which provides:
'Equal rights. -- Every member of a labor organization shall have equal rights and privileges within such organization to nominate candidates, to vote in elections or referendums of the labor organization, to attend membership meetings, and to participate in the deliberations and voting upon the business of such meetings, subject to reasonable rules and regulations in such organization's constitution and bylaws.' (Emphasis added.)
A procedure to enforce these rights is provided in Section 102 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 412. This section permits any person, whose rights under Title I have been infringed, to bring a civil action ...