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PEARL v. TARANTOLA

June 27, 1973

Derek Pearl, Plaintiff,
v.
Joseph Tarantola, as President, et al., Defendants


Duffy, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUFFY

DUFFY, D.J.

The plaintiff has been expelled from his Union and brings this action (1) to enjoin the defendants from effectuating the expulsion, (2) to declare the expulsion null and void, and (3) for attorney fees. When the motion for a preliminary injunction was heard, both sides agreed to consolidate that evidentiary hearing with the trial of the case on the merits pursuant to Rule 65(a) (2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This opinion will constitute findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 At trial, there was little dispute as to the facts. The only real controversy involved the inferences to be drawn from the facts, particularly as to the motivations of the various parties in their sundry actions.

 The plaintiff Derek Pearl immigrated to this country some twelve years ago. In his native England, he had been engaged in the manufacture of jewelry, had become deeply involved in the labor movement, and had also become involved in politics. When he arrived in this country, Pearl sought work in the trade, became a member of the International Jewelry Workers Union (hereinafter referred to as "the Union"), and joined the Progressive Labor Party. For some six and one-half years prior to December 7, 1971, Pearl was employed as a diamond setter by K. Polishook & Son, Corp., a New York City jewelry firm. He was also the Union shop steward.

 On December 6, 1971, Polishook discharged one of its employees, a Union member, named Joaquin Rivera. The plaintiff either instigated, encouraged or condoned a wildcat strike by all of the employees of Polishook to force the rehiring of Rivera. This strike was in violation of the no-strike clause of the collective bargaining agreement between the defendant Union and the Trade Association of which Polishook was a member. The leadership of the defendant Union sent emissaries to the Polishook plant and convinced the Union members there, including the plaintiff, to return to work.

 The employees, in fact, did return to work on the following day (December 7, 1971), but Polishook fired plaintiff as the instigator of the illegal wildcat strike. Subsequently, the discharge of the plaintiff was pursued to arbitration by the Union and the arbitrator ordered the reinstatement of the plaintiff.

 But on December 8, 1971, the day after his discharge, the plaintiff did not know what the decision of the arbitrator would be. That morning, the plaintiff, his wife and children showed up in front of the main entrance of the Polishook factory with signs asking the employees' help in regaining his job. The Union member employees of Polishook thereupon staged another wildcat strike. The Union leadership successfully negotiated with its own members to settle this strike in one day.

 A week later, on December 15, 1971, the plaintiff with other Union members and accompanied by his wife, staged a " sit-in" at the Union headquarters. Prior to this "sit-in", certain newspapers were notified and the newspaper "Challenge", "the Revolutionary Communist Newspaper", *fn1" sent a reporter and photographer to record the event. Pictures were taken, the plaintiff was interviewed, and the resulting story was published alleging that the individual defendants as Union leaders were "spineless".

 All of this activity by the plaintiff resulted in intra-union charges being brought against him. On March 22, 1972, a "trial" on these charges was held by the executive board sitting as a tribunal pursuant to Union by-laws. It resulted in the plaintiff's conviction of the following charges:

 
"2. On or about December 8, 1971, Pearl precipitated a work stoppage in his shop, K. Polishook & Son, Corp., which resulted in the discharge of five other Union members.
 
* * *
 
"4. On or about January 20, 1972, Pearl caused a libelous article to be printed in the 'Challenge', a Progressive Labor Party tabloid, which was used to ridicule the Union by an employer, the employees of whom the Union was seeking to organize in Florida. This caused the Union harm in its efforts to organize a shop.
 
"5. At a membership meeting on December 15, 1971, Pearl admitted attempting to cause a sit-in in the Local No. 1 Union office and tried to publicize this sit-in by supplying this information to a News Agency."

 The "verdict" of the Executive Board of the Local Union was against plaintiff "in a general verdict" on all three charges set out above. (Charges one and three were apparently dismissed.) The Union membership at a meeting ratified the decision of the Executive Board, again apparently without special consideration of the various charges brought against plaintiff, and Pearl was formally expelled from Union membership. The charges were never presented to the membership except as a "bundle" and it is impossible to determine which was the basis of the Union membership determination to expel Pearl. In the summer of 1972, the plaintiff appealed this determination to the Executive Board of the ...


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