The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leval, District Judge.
This is an action for violations of the Labor Management
Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 401, et
seq., and for breach of the duty of fair representation.
Defendant International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots
(IOMM & P) moves for summary judgment.
Defendant IOMM & P is a labor union headquartered in Maryland.
This suit concerns the actions of the Offshore Membership Group,
the largest unit of the IOMM & P, which numbers approximately
3,600 members, and which represents deck officers on ocean-going
vessels. Affidavit of F. Elwood Kyser, IOMM & P
Secretary-Treasurer ¶ 3. Among other things, IOMM & P runs a
hiring hall, at which sea-going jobs are allocated to members of
the IOMM & P. In order to allocate these jobs, defendant has
devised a Group Classification Plan.*fn1 Members are classified
in groups A, B, or C depending upon how much time they have spent
at sea (Group A is the highest; group C the lowest). Jobs are
awarded at the hiring hall to the longest-registered member in
the highest group classification who is present at the hall.
In 1966, plaintiff John R. Seybert, pro se, a member in good
standing of the IOMM & P, attained Group A status, after
completing 365 days of sea assignments. He believed that he would
be able to retain his Group A classification until he either
retired or resigned from the IOMM & P.
In late 1987, defendant conducted a mail ballot referendum
among its Offshore Membership Group on the issue of whether the
classification rule should be changed. Eighteen hundred of the
members returned ballots, which were counted by an independent
balloting agency. By a vote of 1012 to 807, the members approved
an amendment to the union's by-laws which provided that a member
with Group A status would be reclassified as Group B, unless,
within the previous three years, the member had accumulated 180
days of combined seagoing employment and vacation days earned by
such employment. The purpose of the rule, according to F. Elwood
Kyser, the International Secretary-Treasurer of defendant, was to
preserve access to the sea-going jobs for the largest number of
active sea-going members maintaining continuous employment on
IOMM & P vessels. The Work Rule required that appeal of
reclassification be taken to a committee composed of Offshore
Vice Presidents. The Work Rule was implemented in January, 1988.
Some forty-odd members of the union have been reclassified to
Group B under this rule. Kyser Aff. ¶ 9. Apparently, many of them
are employed full time shoreside. Kyser Aff. ¶ 9. Plaintiff, who
works full-time hours as a practicing attorney, was reclassified
to group B in July, 1988, upon completion of a seagoing
assignment and "registration," apparently while seeking a new
assignment at the Port of New York hiring hall. Plaintiff
continues to be a member in good standing of the IOMM & P,
eligible to vote in all union referenda and attend all membership
meetings. He is still eligible for seagoing jobs at the hiring
hall. The reclassification affects only his priority of bidding
for jobs in the hiring hall. Kyser Reply Aff. at 3.
Plaintiff requested review of his reclassification by the IOMM
& P Convention, the highest body within the IOMM & P, which was
due to convene on August 22, 1988. At the Convention, the appeal
was referred to the Grievance and Appeals Committee. The
Committee recommended a denial of the appeal, and the full
Convention, on August 23, 1988, denied the appeal.
Seybert alleges that the reclassification was designed to
penalize him for political activity within the union, along with
the "farmers and lawyers and teachers," who "have the time to
oppose the leadership." Seybert Aff. at 7. Seybert submits the
transcript of the proceedings before the Convention, at which his
appeal was presented. At that proceeding, one member of the union
stated that he believed that this rule was designed to punish
"finks." Others responded that the purpose of the rule was not to
hurt finks, but to "provide for the full-time seamen," to ensure
that the work goes to the regular members, rather than the
Defendant IOMM & P moves for summary judgment. As the movant,
defendant has the burden of demonstrating to the Court that there
is no material issue of fact standing in the way of judgment. In
other words, movant must show that there is an "absence of
evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2554, 91 L.Ed.2d 265
(1986). Once this showing has been made, the opponent "must set
forth arguments or facts to indicate that a genuine issue — not
merely one that ...