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U.S. v. INTERNATIONAL BROTH. OF TEAMSTERS

August 27, 1990

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



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

  OPINION & ORDER

This opinion arises out of the voluntary settlement in the action commenced by the plaintiffs United States of America (the "Government") against the defendants International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the "IBT") and the IBT's General Executive Board (the "GEB") 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, an Independent Administrator to oversee the remedial 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 XII presents for this Court's review the July 12, 1990 Opinion of the Independent Administrator. The Independent Administrator held disciplinary hearings on charges filed by the Investigations Officer against three IBT officers, Dominic Senese, Joseph Talerico, and James Cozzo. The Independent Administrator concluded that the Investigations Officer had sustained his burden of establishing just cause for finding that the charges against Senese, Talerico, and Cozzo had been proved. The Independent Administrator imposed lifetime suspensions from the IBT on Senese, Talerico, and Cozzo. This Application followed.

I. Background

Talerico is a business agent of Local 727, located in Chicago, Illinois. Talerico was charged with violating Article II, § 2(a) and Article XIX, § 6(b) of the IBT constitution ("Article XIX, § 6(b)") by (1) being adjudged in criminal contempt in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401(3), and civil contempt for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury investigating the skimming of funds from a Las Vegas casino, while an officer of the IBT; and (2) knowingly associating from January 1, 1981 to the present, with Joseph Aiuppa and Philip Ponto, members of La Cosa Nostra, while an officer of the IBT.

Cozzo was executive coordinator of Local 786 in Chicago Illinois, but has not been employed by that local since July 9, 1989. Cozzo has also taken a withdrawal card and is not a member of that local. Cozzo was charged with violating Article II, § 2(a) and Article XIX, § 6(b) by being a member of La Cosa Nostra and knowingly associating with Joseph Lombardo, a member of La Cosa Nostra, while employed by Local 786.

Article II, § 2(a) is the IBT membership oath. That section provides in relevant part that every IBT member shall "conduct himself or herself in such a manner as not to bring reproach upon the Union . . ." Article XIX, § 6(b) provides the bases for bringing disciplinary charges against IBT members. Article XIX, § 6(b)(1) indicates that violating any specific provision of the IBT constitution is chargeable conduct. Article XIX, § 6(b)(2) states that transgressing the IBT oath of office is chargeable conduct.

II. Discussion

With respect to the disciplinary and investigatory provisions of the Consent Decree, the IBT General President and GEB delegated their disciplinary authority under the IBT constitution to the Court Officers. United States. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 905 F.2d 610, 618-19 (2d Cir. 1990); see also November 2, 1989 Memorandum and Order, 725 F. Supp. 162, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 1989); January 17, 1990 Memorandum and Order, 728 F. Supp. 1032, 1048-57 (S.D.N Y 1990), aff'd 907 F.2d 277 (2d Cir. 1990); Local 27 v. Carberry et al., July 20, 1990 at 3-4, 1990 WL 108348 (S.D.N.Y. 1990); Joint Council 73 et al. v. Carberry et al., 741 F. Supp. 491, 492-93 (S.D.N.Y. 1990). The Independent Administrator and Investigations Officer are stand-ins for the General President and GEB for the purpose of the instant disciplinary actions. Hearings before the Independent Administrator are conducted pursuant to the same standards applicable to labor arbitration hearings. Consent Decree, ¶ F.12.(A)(ii)(e).

Paragraph F.12.(C) of the Consent Decree mandates that the Independent Administrator must decide disciplinary hearings using a "just cause" standard. Consent Decree at 9. Paragraph K.16 provides that this Court shall review actions of the Independent Administrator using the "same standard of review applicable to review of final federal agency action under the Administrative Procedures Act." Consent Decree at 25. This Court may only overturn the findings of the Independent Administrator when it finds that they are, on the basis of all the evidence, "arbitrary or capricious." This Court and the Court of Appeals have interpreted ¶ K.16 to mean that decisions of the Independent Administrator "are entitled to great deference." 905 F.2d 610, 616 (2d Cir. 1990) see also March 13, 1990 Opinion and Order, 743 F. Supp. 155, 160 (S.D.N.Y. 1990).

Cozzo failed to respond to the charges filed by the Investigations Officer, did not appear for his disciplinary hearing, and does not challenge the decision of the Independent Administrator to this Court. Senese and Talerico argue the Independent Administrator's determination that the charges were sustained against them was "arbitrary and capricious." For reasons to be discussed, the Independent Administrator's conclusions in the July 12, 1990 Opinion must be upheld in all respects.

A. Facial Challenges to the Discipline Hearings

Senese and Talerico facially challenge several aspects of the procedure followed by the Court Officers to conduct their hearing. At the outset, Senese and Talerico contest the jurisdiction of the Independent Administrator to hear the charges against them. Senese and Talerico assert they were deprived of their rights under the United States Constitution. Senese and Talerico further argue that the Independent Administrator erred in allowing the introduction of, and then relying upon hearsay evidence.

1. Jurisdictional Challenge

Senese and Talerico first argue that the Independent Administrator has no jurisdiction to discipline them, since they were neither parties to the underlying litigation nor signatories to the Consent Decree. This argument is utterly without merit. It is beyond doubt that the disciplinary and investigatory provisions of the Consent Decree are binding on non-signatory members of the IBT. See United States v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 905 F.2d 610, 618-19 (2d Cir. 1990); see also November 2, 1989 Memorandum and Order, 725 F. Supp. 162, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 1989); January 17, 1990 Memorandum and Order, 728 F. Supp. 1032, 1048-57 (S.D.N Y 1990), aff'd 907 F.2d 277 (2d Cir. 1990); Local 27 v. Carberry et al., July 20, 1990 at 3-4 (S.D.N.Y. 1990); Joint Council 73 et al. v. Carberry et al., 741 F. Supp. 491, 492-93 (S.D.N Y 1990).

2. Constitutional Challenges

Senese and Talerico contend that the charges against them are violative of their rights under the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Senese and Talerico do not demonstrate that any Constitutional protection attaches to the conduct or their charges. As a result, the Independent Administrator's determination that these charges do not infringe Senese and Talerico's Constitutional rights must be upheld.

Senese and Talerico argue that these charges sanction them for associating with certain individuals, in violation of their First Amendment right of freedom of association. Senese and Talerico essentially ask this Court to rule that the IBT cannot punish members whose activities are adverse to the union's stated goal to be free of corruption, because they have a First Amendment right to associate with whomever they please.

Union members' First Amendment rights are statutorily curtailed by § 101(a)(2) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2). Section 101(a)(2) specifically preserves for labor unions the right to "enforce reasonable rules as to the responsibility of every member toward the organization as an institution," and to sanction its members for conduct "that would interfere with its performance of its legal or contractual obligations." 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2).

It is the stated policy of the IBT to be free of the influence of organized crime. Consent Decree, fifth and sixth "WHEREAS" clauses. Union officers' associations with organized crime members pose a danger to the integrity of the IBT as an institution. United States v. Local 560, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 581 F. Supp. 279, 315 (D.N.J. 1984). It is beyond dispute that the IBT can sanction its own members who knowingly associate with organized crime figures, since such conduct violates "the responsibility of every member toward the institution" of § 101(a)(2) of the LMRDA.

The Independent Administrator noted that governments may lawfully impair an individual's freedom of association in a number of contexts. See, e.g., Jones v. North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, Inc., 433 U.S. 119, 125-133, 97 S.Ct. 2532, 2537-42, 53 L.Ed.2d 629 (1977) (Prison management outweighs prisoners' associative rights); Cordero v. Coughlin, 607 F. Supp. 9, 9-11 (S.D.N.Y. 1984) (segregating AIDS prisoners); United States Civil Serv. Comm'n v. National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, 413 U.S. 548, 567, 93 S.Ct. 2880, 2891, 37 L.Ed.2d 796 (1973) (ban on political activity by federal employees); United States v. Boyle, 338 F. Supp. 1028, 1032-33 (D.C.Colo. 1972) (ban on union political contributions). A state may strictly regulate which persons may serve in positions as officials in unions involved in gaming casinos. In Brown v. Hotel and Restaurant Employees and Bartenders Int'l Union Local 54, 468 U.S. 491, 509, 104 S.Ct. 3179, 3189-90, 82 L.Ed.2d 373 (1984), the Supreme Court held that the public has a compelling interest in eliminating the "`public evils' of `crime, corruption, and racketeering'" to justify such regulation on association. Id. While this situation involves sanctions imposed by a private actor, the IBT, the cited cases are further support for the Independent Administrator's conclusions.

The common denominator in all these cases is that the compelling state interest outweighs the associational infringement. If a state has a compelling interest in keeping private entities free of the influence of organized crime, then a private actor such as the IBT, which has a broad and universal impact on the commerce of the United States, surely has a compelling interest in ridding itself of the influence of organized crime. The Independent Administrator determined that the IBT has the right to discipline members for knowingly associating with organized crime figures since it has a compelling institutional interest in ridding itself of corruption. The IBT's sanctioning members in order to rid itself of corrupt influence conforms with ยง 101(a)(2) of the LMRDA, and ...


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