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U.S. v. INTERN. BROTH. OF TEAMSTERS

July 10, 1990

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WARE-HOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. IN RE APPLICATION X BY THE INDEPENDENT ADMINISTRATOR.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edelstein, District Judge:

  OPINION & ORDER

This opinion emanates from the voluntary settlement in the action commenced by plaintiff United States of America (the "Government") against the defendants International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the "IBT") and the IBT's General Executive Board (the "GEB"). The settlement is embodied in the voluntary consent order entered March 14, 1989 (the "Consent Decree"). The remedial provisions in the Consent Decree provided for three Court-appointed officials, the Independent Administrator to oversee its provisions, an Investigations Officer to bring charges against corrupt IBT members, and an Election Officer to oversee the electoral process leading up to and including the 1991 election for International Officers (collectively, the "Court Officers"). The goal of the Consent Decree is to rid the IBT of the hideous influence of organized crime through the election and prosecution provisions.

Application X by the Independent Administrator presents for this Court's review the final set of election rules for the 1991 IBT election for International Officers. During the course of the implementation of this Consent Decree, this Court has been called upon to decide matters large and small. But of all the tasks put before it, no question is more central to the ultimate success of this Consent Decree than this proposed framework for the first fully democratic, secret ballot elections in the history of a union which has been the historic marionette of organized crime. An election under these rules beacon the coming of the light of freedom to this dark union.

These election rules must not be viewed in a vacuum, but instead placed in their proper context. This Court has reiterated that this Consent Decree is a unique attempt to cleanse this union. These election rules are the linchpin in that effort. This Court will only approve election rules that will guarantee honest, fair, and free elections completely secure from harassment, intimidation, coercion, hooliganism, threats, or any variant of these no matter under what guise.

Before examining the election rules and objections to them in detail, this Court must emphasize that its notion of fair, free and honest elections means more than just an honest ballot. Fair elections demand that IBT members are given a meaningful uncoerced choice of candidates. Candidates must be freed of any hesitation about speaking openly on issues, including criticism of the incumbent IBT structure. Candidates must be fearlessly free to communicate those views to the membership. Members must be assured and given confidence that they need not fear to engage in untrammelled discussion.

I. The Rules Promulgation Process

The election rules submitted to this Court were promulgated by the Election Officer pursuant to ¶ F.12.(D) of the Consent Decree, which authorizes the Election Officer to supervise all phases of the 1991 Election for International Officers. See Consent Decree, ¶ F.12.D at 15; see also United States v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 723 F. Supp. 203, 206-07 (S.D.N.Y. 1989) (the "October 18, 1989 Decision") appeal dismissed (unpublished order, 2d Cir. Dec. 13, 1989), petition for rehearing en banc denied, (unpublished order, 2d Cir. Feb. 12, 1990), cert. denied (June 11, 1990).

The October 18, 1989 Order of this Court established that the parties intended the Election Officer to have broad power actively to supervise the entire 1991 election for International Officers. The promulgation of electoral rules is an integral part of that mandate. The October 18, 1989 Order also authorized the Election Officer to follow a timetable for the 1991 election. Application X presenting these electoral rules comports with the schedule for these events. See id.

The Election Officer followed the notice and comment rulemaking process to promulgate these final election rules. The Election Officer drafted a set of proposed electoral rules, (the "proposed election rules") and distributed these to all IBT entities on February 22, 1990. The Election Officer then held a series of eight hearings from March 6 through March 27 around the United States and Canada to solicit comments from all interested entities about the proposed election rules.*fn1 The transcripts of these hearings are part of Application X and public record filed with the Court. The Election Officer then considered the comments from the hearings in addition to submitted written commentary in promulgating the final rules. These final rules are the substance of Application X. In addition the Election Officer has released commentaries as a companion to the final election rules, (the "election rules commentaries"). The election rules commentaries further demonstrate the comprehensiveness of the Election Officer's work.

The Court is satisfied that the Election Officer proceeded in a methodological way such that the IBT membership and subordinate entities were afforded an ample opportunity to participate, comment, and make their input part of the public record of these final election rules.

II. Objections to the Final Rules

A. General Objections

The IBT again reiterates its position that the Election Officer has no specific authority under the Consent Decree to promulgate election rules. The IBT conceded in a footnote that these same arguments were rejected by this Court's decision of Application II. See October 18, 1989 Opinion, supra, 723 F. Supp. at 206-07, appeal dismissed (unpublished order, 2d Cir. Dec. 13, 1989), petition for rehearing en banc denied, (unpublished order, 2d Cir. Feb. 12, 1990), cert. denied (June 11, 1990). The IBT's asking this Court to revisit this final ruling is frivolous. My decision stands.

Locals 282 and 707 assert that as locals they are not bound by the Consent Decree's changes to the IBT constitution. This Court has already set out in detail its reasoning on the binding effect of the Consent Decree. See January 17, 1990 Opinion and Order of this Court, (the "All Writs Act Opinion"), 728 F. Supp. 1032, 1048-57 (S.D.N.Y. 1990), aff'd 907 F.2d 277 (2d Cir. 1990). That specific reasoning is incorporated into this order by reference. This Court now specifically orders that the local unions are bound by the election provisions of the Consent Decree.

B. Specific Objections

Challenges to particular election rules will be considered separately.

            1. Article II, § 1 of the Final Election
                              Rules

The IBT protests that this rule — which sets a formula for the number of alternate delegates that each local union must elect — is at odds with Article III, § 5(a)(2) of the IBT Constitution. In their objections to this rule the IBT ignores the underlying problem which Article II, § 1 of the final election rules corrects. The Consent Decree prohibits delegates from participating at the international convention unless directly elected. Without this rule, those locals that do not elect alternate delegates would be disenfranchised should some elected delegates be unable to attend the international convention. In addition, those locals whose relative delegate strength increased between the local delegate election and the international convention will have a reservoir from which to draw alternate delegates.

The final election rule at Article II, § 1 is within the Election Officer's authority to supervise this election. Accordingly, the IBT's challenge to Article II, § 1 of the final election rules is denied.

2. Article II, § 2 of the Final Election Rules

The IBT challenges the provision at Article II, § 2 of the final election rules — requiring each local to submit a local union plan to the Election Officer — as beyond the scope of the Consent Decree. The local union plan must detail for the Election Officer that local's specific procedure for the elections.*fn2

The final election rule's requirement of a local union plan falls within the authority of the Election Officer to supervise this election. The Election Officer cannot supervise this election without the specific information contained in a local union plan.

The IBT further objects to the Election Officer's intention to conduct all phases of the election of any local which does not submit a local union plan. The IBT again argues such a rule goes beyond the scope of the Consent Decree. The Election Officer contends that he must certify the result of each election. Should a local not submit a local union plan, he is left with two choices: either conduct that local's election, or refuse to certify that local's election, thereby disenfranchising the membership of that local.

An intent of the election provisions of the Consent Decree is to give the IBT membership a real and honest voice through direct elections. A course of action which would disenfranchise any portion of the membership is intolerable. The Election Officer's intention to conduct the election of any local which refuses to submit a local union plan falls within his authority to supervise this election.

Accordingly, the IBT's challenges to this rule are hereby denied.

         3. Article III; Article VIII, § 9; Definitions,
                 ¶ 2 of the Final Election Rules

The IBT disputes the provisions of the final election rules which provide that accredited candidates for union office may have their campaign literature published in the International Teamster. The standards for candidate accreditation are delineated at Article III of the final election rules. A candidate may become accredited under Article III of the final election rules principally by obtaining signatures from 2.5% of the "membership of the relevant membership pool." Article III, § 1, Final Election Rules at 23. Accredited candidates and those nominated for international office may have their "campaign literature published in the IBT Magazine" as set out in Article VII, § 9 of the final election rules. The IBT argues that the accreditation of candidates itself goes beyond the scope of the Consent Decree.

The IBT further contends that publication of accredited candidate literature in the International Teamster exceeds the Election Officer's power "to distribute materials about the election to the IBT membership." ¶ F.12.(D), Consent Decree at 15. The IBT asserts that the Consent Decree specifically enumerates when the Court Officers may publish material in the International Teamster, and ¶ F.12.(D) does not explicitly grant the Election Officer such a right. The IBT points out that ¶ F.12.(E) expressly provided that the Independent Administrator should report to the membership in each issue of the International Teamster.

The IBT's argument that these publication rules violate the IBT's right of free speech by compelling that organization to publish certain speech in the International Teamster is similarly unconvincing. While labor unions are not ordinarily required to publish "contrary views," Camarata v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 478 F. Supp. 321, 330 (D.D.C. 1979), aff'd 108 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2924 (D.C. Cir. 1981), this election is no ordinary circumstance. Its circumstances require special measures. This Court has previously found that implementing the remedial scheme embodied in the Consent Decree is an extraordinary circumstance requiring "special consideration." All Writs Act Opinion, supra, 728 F. Supp. at 1045. The more general authority cited by IBT, e.g., Wooley v. Maynard 430 U.S. 705, 714, 97 S.Ct. 1428, 1435, 51 L.Ed.2d 752 (1977); Pacific Gas & Electric Co. v. Public Utilities Comm'n of California, 475 U.S. 1, 106 S.Ct. 903, 89 L.Ed.2d 1 (1986); Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, 418 U.S. 241, 94 S.Ct. 2831, 41 L.Ed.2d 730 (1974) is therefore inapposite.

This Court is not prohibited from ordering that the International Teamster be open to campaign material under special circumstances. In the past, a court ordered such publication in the 1972 election for president of the United Mine Workers union. See Hodgson v. United Mine Workers of America, 344 F. Supp. 17, 36 (D.D.C. 1972).

The IBT relies on the Camarata decision to argue that a court cannot compel a union to publish campaign material in a union publication under any circumstances. But that conclusion is misplaced, since the Camarata court determined only that the situation it faced presented an inappropriate circumstance to compel such publication. In Camarata, the court found that the plaintiff had announced his candidacy for IBT General President solely to "gain access to the I.T. [International Teamster]." Camarata, supra, 478 F. Supp. at 329. No such circumstance exists here.

It should not be forgotten that the IBT has bitterly opposed the inclusion of any material arising from the Consent Decree in the International Teamster. The IBT objected to monthly reports of the Independent Administrator in the International Teamster, and this Court enforced the Independent Administrator's rights to a monthly forum. Contest over that right prompted Application VI by the Independent Administrator, and this Court's decision in a Memorandum & Order dated November 16, 1989 (the "November 16 Memorandum"), appeal dismissed (unpublished order, 2d Cir. Dec. 13, 1989), that the Independent Administrator has a right to report monthly to the membership in the International Teamster.

This Court has continually recognized that the dissemination of information benefits the IBT membership, which has a right and need to know about these matters that affect their union. No opposition candidate may mount a viable challenge to the entrenched IBT plutocracy without standing on an equal footing with regard to distribution of their views.

The standards delineated in Article III of the final election rules governing the accreditation process regarding which candidates may become accredited are fair and uniform. The intention of the Election Officer to publish campaign statements of accredited candidates in the International Teamster pursuant to Article VII, ยง 9 of the final ...


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