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Wirtz v. Hotel

decided: July 28, 1967.

W. WILLARD WIRTZ, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
HOTEL, MOTEL AND CLUB EMPLOYEES UNION, LOCAL 6, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Hays and Feinberg, Circuit Judges, and Dimock, District Judge.*fn* Dimock, D.j. concurring.

Author: Hays

HAYS, Circuit Judge.

Both plaintiff Secretary of Labor and defendant union appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in a case involving an election of officials of the defendant union. The district court held that a certain by-law of the union limiting candidacy for union office was violative of Section 401(e) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. § 481 (e),*fn1 but declined to set aside, under the provisions of Section 402(c) of the Act, the election in which the by-law was applied because the Secretary failed to show that application of the questioned by-law "may have affected the outcome" of the election. However, the district court enjoined the application of the by-law to future elections. During the course of the hearing on the Secretary's application, the district court rejected certain evidence proffered by the Secretary with respect to other violations of Section 401 which the Secretary alleged that the union had committed in the course of the election, on the ground that the Secretary's action was not supported by any complaint from a union member with respect to these alleged violations. (See § 402(a), 29 U.S.C. § 482(a)).*fn2

(2) the rejection of evidence as to the additional violations.

Defendant attacks

(1) the holding that the union's by-law violated Section 401(e), and

(2) the issuance of an injunction against future violations.

We hold that the lower court was correct in its ruling with respect to the additional alleged violations, but reverse the decision that the by-law was violative of Section 401(e). For the reason last stated and also for the reason that the court had no power to enjoin future violations, we set aside the injunction which the district court ordered.

I.

We turn first to the district court's determination that the questioned by-law constituted a violation of the statute.

The by-law provides:

"In order to be eligible for nomination as an officer, a candidate must possess the following qualifications: (1) He must be a member of the Union in continuous good standing for a period of two years immediately preceding his nomination; (2) He 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 year on either the Executive Board, the Assembly, or the old Shop Delegates Council. In order to be eligible for nomination as a member of the Executive Board, as a delegate to the Assembly, or as a department delegate, a candidate must be a member of the Union in continuous good standing for a period of at least one year immediately preceding his nomination."

The aspect of the clause to which the Secretary takes exception is the requirement of previous service on the Executive Board, in the Assembly, or on the Shop Delegates Council.*fn3

Section 401(e) provides that "every member in good standing shall be eligible to be a candidate and to hold office (subject to . . . reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed) . . . ." 29 U.S.C. § 481(e). The issue which we must resolve is whether the eligibility restrictions of the union by-law are "reasonable qualifications."

In determining this question we do not regard the "clearly erroneous" rule as controlling, see Donaldson Publishing Co. v. Bregman, Vocco & Conn, Inc., 375 F.2d 639, 641 (2d Cir. 1967); Baranow v. Gibraltar Factors Corp., 366 F.2d 584, 587-89 (2d Cir. 1966); Mamiye Bros. v. Barber S.S. Lines, Inc., 360 F.2d 774, 776-78 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 835, 17 L. Ed. 2d 70, 87 S. Ct. 80 (1966), although even if it were, we are left with "the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed." See United States v. United States Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 394-95, 92 L. Ed. 746, 68 S. Ct. 525 (1948).

In deciding the issue of reasonableness we must keep in mind the fact that the Act did not purport to take away from labor unions the governance of their own internal affairs and hand that governance over either to the courts or to the Secretary of Labor. The Act strictly limits official interference in the internal affairs of unions. See, Calhoon v. Harvey, 379 U.S. 134, 13 L. Ed. 2d 190, 85 S. Ct. 292 (1964); Gurton v. Arons, 339 F.2d 371 (2d Cir. 1964). The Act prescribes only certain basic minima and leaves the area not covered by these minimum prescriptions to the decisions of the unions themselves.

"Congress intentionally created a narrow remedy under Title IV of the LMRDA so that interference with union elections and management would be kept at a minimum." Wirtz v. Locals 410, 410A, 410B & 410C, Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, 366 F.2d 438, 442 (2d Cir. 1966).

The Supreme Court, in discussing Title IV, referred to "the general congressional policy to allow unions great latitude in resolving their own internal controversies." ...


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