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GULICKSON v. FOREST

June 18, 1968

Helen Gulickson, Plaintiff,
v.
Roland Forest et al., Defendants


Weinstein, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINSTEIN

WEINSTEIN, D.J.

Alleging that he was denied procedural and substantive rights guaranteed to him by his Union Constitution and by section 101 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (29 U.S.C. § 411) and that he was the victim of a conspiracy among his opponents in the Union, Andrew Gulickson brought this action against the named defendants individually and as officers of Local 1486, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers of America. He sought compensatory and punitive damages resulting from his removal from the offices of Business Representative and Delegate to the National Convention for the Local. Subsequently, Gulickson died and his widow was substituted as plaintiff.

 The case was tried by this Court sitting without a jury. For the reasons given below, plaintiff is awarded compensatory damages.

 Gulickson had been the Local's Business Representative for over twenty years. This paid position constituted his chief means of support. Early in 1964 he was attacked and severely beaten by unknown assailants after leaving a union meeting. Despite the injuries he suffered - two broken legs - he continued to function satisfactorily as Business Representative and to engage in union politics.

 The supposed cause of Gulickson's removal from Union office was his conduct in the May 21, 1964 election for Delegate to the National Convention in which he was a candidate.

 Notices were sent to the Local's membership announcing both a general meeting on May 14 and the May 21st election. At the general meeting on May 14 and at the Executive Committee meeting which preceded it, there was some doubt about whether an additional notice of the May 21st election should be mailed. The Executive Committee first decided to give notice and then rescinded its decision. After debate at the general meeting, the membership adopted a resolution that there was to be no additional notice. Nonetheless, Gulickson mailed printed postcards to many members of the Local. The card read as follows:

 "BROTHERHOOD of PAINTERS, DECORATORS and PAPERHANGERS of AMERICA

 Local Union 1486 of Suffolk County

 Dear Sir & Brother:

 Elections for delegates to the convention will be held on May 21, 1964 from 8 to 10 P.M. at the Professional Building, Commack Road, Commack.

 Please Bring Your Due Book and Vote.

 Fraternally yours,

 ANDREW GULICKSEN [GULICKSON]

 Business Representative"

 On May 21, 1964, Gulickson was elected one of three Delegates to the National Convention. Among those defeated were the defendants Roland Forest and Salvatore Gangi.

 On June 25, 1964, Gulickson was re-elected to the office of Business Representative after a heated campaign pitting him against the defendant Roland Forest. The individual defendants Clarence Brink, Salvatore Gangi and William Burnett supported Forest's candidacy. Shortly after this election, Charles Zierau, a member of the Local, filed charges against Gulickson for having mailed official postcards in disregard of the resolution not to do so.

 Gulickson was served with a copy of the charges on July 9, 1964. They read as follows:

 
"performing acts in violation of the constitution of the Brotherhood which were detrimental to the interests of the members of Local 1486 and the Brotherhood in that on or about the 19th day of May, 1964 without authority and in violation and in contempt of the decision of the Executive Board and the Rank and File of the Local Union did send to certain members of Local Union 1486 a printed notice of meeting (election of delegates) to national convention. This was also in violation of the provisions of Sec. 185-a, and had, without authority and in violation of the constitution, imprinted upon such unlawful notice, the official name and Title of the Local Union."

 The Trial Board consisted of the Local's Executive Committee - the defendants Roland Forest, Salvatore Gangi, Clarence Brink and William Burnett, and one Herman Feldman. Appearing as requested, Gulickson made no objection to the charges or the nature of the Board.

 A stenographic transcript of the hearing was made. It shows that the case against Gulickson consisted of the resolution of the Local that no further notices of the May 21 election were to be given, copies of the postcards Gulickson had sent, an invoice to the Local for the Gulickson mailing, and testimony that some members had not received the cards.

 In his defense, Gulickson admitted sending the cards, but denied any intention to appropriate the Local's letterhead, to violate the resolution not to send out notices, or to mail exclusively to his friends. He explained that the printer placed the letterhead on the card because he had previously done work for the union and assumed that the type should be set that way. Cards were not sent to all members because the printer did not have enough to fill the order. Gulickson stated that he purchased and mailed the cards at his own expense and that he did not believe this to be in violation of the resolution that the Local would not mail additional notices. He produced a letter from the printer to the Local indicating that the ...


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