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WIRTZ v. HOTEL

March 20, 1967

W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff
v.
Hotel, Motel And Club Employees Union, Local 6, Defendant


Wyatt, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WYATT

WYATT, District Judge.

The principal question here is whether prior service as a Union officer, on a Union Board, or in the Union Assembly, is a "reasonable" qualification, under the Landrum-Griffin Act, for candidacy for office in the defendant Union.

 Section 401(e) of the Act (29 U.S.C. § 481(e)), which may also be cited as the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, provides that in any union election required by the Act "every member in good standing shall be eligible to be a candidate and to hold office (subject to . . . reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed)".

 This action, tried to the Court without a jury, was brought by the Secretary of Labor to declare void, etc. an election of officers of defendant Union ("the Union" or "Local 6") held on May 19, 1965. The action is authorized by Section 402 of the Act (29 U.S.C. § 482).

 The Secretary charges that the Union violated Section 401(e) of the Act in that its by-laws made eligible for nomination as officers only those members who were then members of the Assembly or of the Executive Board or who had served in the past as members of the Assembly or of the Executive Board or of the former Shop Delegates Council. The Secretary contends that this qualification is not "reasonable" under Section 401(e) of the Act.

 It is undisputed that the Union is a "labor organization" subject to Section 401 of the Act, in that it is engaged in an industry affecting commerce (Act § 3(i), 29 U.S.C. § 402(i)). It is also undisputed that members of the Union, having invoked available internal union remedies without final decision, etc., properly filed a complaint with the Secretary and that the Secretary investigated, found probable cause to believe that a violation had occurred, etc., and timely brought this action.

 The Court has jurisdiction under Section 402 of the Act.

 If the Union did violate the Act as charged and if this violation "may have affected the outcome" of the election, the Court must then declare the election void and direct a new election (29 U.S.C. § 482(c)).

 The prior office holding qualification of the by-laws is found not to have been "reasonable" and its enforcement in the 1965 election is found to have been a violation of the Act.

 It is not found that this violation "may have affected the outcome" of the election.

 The 1965 election of officers cannot be declared void, therefore, but the Secretary may properly be given relief in respect of future such elections.

 A. Description of the Union; Elections Before That in 1965.

 The Union began about 1938 with a successful effort to organize workers in the hotels and clubs in New York City; it was in an organizational period until about 1946.

 The Union has been at all times affiliated with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders International Union, A.F.L.-C.I.O. (the "Hotel, etc., International"). It is the largest of the locals affiliated with the Hotel, etc. International.

 From the early days of the Union to 1951, its "highest legislative body" was the "Shop Delegates Council". This was made up (a) of delegates elected from each department of each hotel and club, (b) of members of "department boards" and (c) of the general officers. In order to be eligible as a candidate for delegate to the Shop Delegates Council, a person must have been employed at the hotel or club for at least six months and must have been a member of the Union for at least one year.

 After a crisis in the affairs of the Union, an election of delegates to a convention was held in May 1951 and an election of officers was held in June 1951. There were rival slates in both elections. Voting machines were used, as has been the practice in all later elections of the Union. The candidates for delegates of the United Union Organization, running on Row A (the top row) were elected by a wide margin. The candidates for officers of the Administration Ticket, running on Row A, were elected by a vote of about 7,300 to about 3,300 for the nearest opposition slate.

 It has been the practice in all Local 6 elections that the administration slate is given the Row A position on the voting machines.

 New by-laws were adopted at a special convention held in September 1951, and from that time down through the 1965 election in suit, the structure of the Union has been substantially the same.

 By force of the 1951 by-laws, the Shop Delegates Council was abolished and the "Assembly" was set up as the "highest legislative body" in its place. The method of electing delegates to the Assembly was changed from that employed for the Shop Delegates Council. Doubtless these changes were to reduce the governing body to a less numerous and thus to a more efficient group.

 The Union is organized by departments and by districts.

 The departments are made up of members in each separate craft or broad category of work, except that all club employees are in the club department regardless of the work they do. There are five departments of hotel employees: Banquet, Bar, Dining Room, Housekeeping and Kitchen.

 The districts for hotel employees are geographical areas determined by the most effective and convenient grouping of hotels for administrative purposes. There are six numbered districts for hotel employees. All club employees are in a single district.

 The basic element in the Union is the unit or shop in the hotel or club where the members of a particular craft work. Each dining room or kitchen, for example, is a separate unit. Each unit elects a "department delegate" who cooperates with officers of the Union in the handling of grievances and other matters affecting members in his unit. The term "department delegate" is simply another name for shop steward. The department delegates in a district, together with the district officers, make up the District Council.

 The organizational novelty of Local 6 is that, while each craft has its own unique traditions, interests and problems, Local 6 includes several different crafts and negotiates with employers for them all. By means of by-laws and otherwise, however, care is taken that each craft (department) in Local 6 has proportional representation in the Assembly and in other Union activities. Care is similarly taken that the employees in any one hotel do not acquire a dominant influence.

 Each district has a vice-president and from one to four business agents. These are paid and full time officers and are elected by the members in the district (before March 1959 voting had been by departments).

 There are four general officers of the Union: President, Secretary-Treasurer, General Organizer, and Recording Secretary. The general officers are paid, full time officers and are elected by all members in all districts.

 The delegates to the Assembly are elected by districts but within a district delegates may be elected from "election districts" established by the Assembly (before March 1959 voting had been by departments). In general, one delegate is elected for each 75 members in the district; there are by-law provisions to see that delegates are elected from the various departments in proportion to department membership and not too many from any one hotel. The Assembly meets at least quarterly and each year must meet for a full day. The general officers, the vice-presidents, and the business agents are automatically members of the Assembly.

 There is an Executive Board (which meets monthly) made up of the principal officers and of members elected by the Assembly on the basis of one Executive Board member from each department for each 500 members of that department.

 The term of office of officers and members of the Assembly was two years until a revision of the by-laws in March 1959; since March 1959, the term has been three years.

 From September 1951 until at least October 15, 1963, the by-laws of the Union required that a candidate for office must have been a member in good standing for two years and in addition "must be a member of either the Assembly or the Executive Board, or else, at some time in the past, have served at least one term on either the Executive Board, the Assembly, or the old Shop Delegates Council".

 It is suggested for the Union that at a meeting of the Assembly on October 15, 1963, the quoted by-law provision was amended so as to change the word "term" to the word "year". The evidence is not convincing that such amendment was in fact adopted. The difference between "term" and "year" is not significant for this decision, however, and it will be assumed that before the 1965 election the word "term" had been changed to "year".

 While this prior office qualification had to be satisfied by candidates for Union office at an election, it was not applicable to appointed officers. If an office becomes vacant, a successor can be appointed by the general officers subject to approval by the Executive Board and the Assembly. Moreover, the Assembly may appoint business agents (who are paid officers) additional to those ...


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