relevance as a witness before calling him, a process they explained to plaintiff. When plaintiff refused to divulge his questions, the subcommittee did not call the secretary-treasurer as a witness. Pl. Exh. 10 at 58-63, 77. Plaintiff also objected to the submission of the correspondence between Leitz and himself without the opportunity to cross-examine, stating "I didn't object [to the charge of conflict]. I asked him to explain what he meant by conflicts. If he would have explained that to me at the time, perhaps this whole thing would have been avoided. In my opinion I wasn't in conflict." Pl. Exh. 10 at 76.
Pursuant to the hearing subcommittee's report, the International Executive committee removed plaintiff as a vice-president on September 27, 1990. Pl. 3 (g) para. 11; TWU 3(g) at para. 15. The subcommittee had found that:
William Kirrane while an International Vice-President of TWU and a member of its highly responsible International Executive Council which deals with its most intimate and, in many cases, its most confidential business, offered his services, at a price, to assist other unions in their most intimate affairs. There are many situations where the interests of TWU conflict with the interests of other unions. There are situations where the interests of one TWU Local conflict with the interests of another TWU Local.
This committee submits that it is grossly unbecoming for an International Vice-President and member of the International Executive Council to offer his professional assistance in union matters, presumably to the highest bidder among other unions or among locals of the TWU.
. . . .
Brother Kirrane's deliberate failure to request permission from the International President, or even to notify him, of his solicitation of union business from TWU Locals and from other unions was an indefensible bread of his constitutional responsibility as a Vice-president.
It is the unanimous opinion of this Subcommittee that the good and welfare of the TWU requires that Brother Kirrane be removed.
Pl. Exh. 11 at 12-13.
Section 101(a)(5) of the Act requires that a union member be "afforded a full and fair hearing" before the member can be disciplined. These requirements include notice of the specific charges brought and a reasonable opportunity to be heard, including such procedural rights as the right to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses, as well as an impartial hearing panel. See Loekle v. Hansen (S.D.N.Y. 1982) 551 F. Supp. 74, 82 (Carter, J.) (noting standard for hearing and ruling that trial was "so unfair that it does not satisfy the requirements of § 101(a)(5)"). Plaintiff attacks the hearing he received as a procedural and substantive "sham," and the decision reached by the hearing subcommittee as unreasonable.
Nothing in the record before us raises a disputed issue of fact with respect to plaintiff's claim that the hearing itself was defective, apart from plaintiff's conclusory and self-serving allegations to that effect.
The letter suspending plaintiff specifies the charges against him; and scheduling a hearing within the 20-day period required by the TWU constitution satisfies the notice requirement. Plaintiff was given copies of every pieced of documentary evidence that was used against him, which consisted largely of correspondence to which he was a party. And though plaintiff alleged bias and repeatedly objected to the procedures used, those objections were without substance, and the hearing transcript reveals no bias and none of the flaws similar to those that infected the hearing in Loekle.
Turning to the decision the hearing subcommittee reached, we observe that there is no dispute whatsoever as to the basis of the charges upon which plaintiff was removed from office. Plaintiff mailed out leaflets promoting his consulting firm, Modern Labor Methods and the TWU ruled that this conflicted with his responsibilities as an International vice-president and constituted conduct unbecoming that position. In determining whether the TWU erred in so ruling we must give great deference to the union's interpretation of its own constitution, and would upset its interpretation only if "patently unreasonable." See Gurton v. Arons (2d Cir. 1964) 339 F.2d 371, 375; Stelling v. Int'l Broth. of Elec. Workers (9th Cir. 1978) 587 F.2d 1379, 1388, n.10 (reiterating the "patently unreasonable" standard and suggesting court review union's interpretation from the perspective of the union, not the court).
Essentially, plaintiff's argument against the TWU's conclusion that his behavior violated the constitution boils down to this: "Modern Labor Methods was never more than name and a leaflet" and his consulting work never more than "anticipated"; thus it is unreasonable to be "disciplined for impure thoughts." Pl. Mem. at 12-13. Plaintiff also alleges that his removal was part of the plot to keep him off the Local 101 election ballot, a claim we resolved against him in our earlier opinion. See November 5, 1990 Memorandum and Order at 7. However, plaintiff offers no caselaw, nor specifies any incidents either before, during, or after the hearing that allows us to agree with his claim that the TWU was unreasonable in ruling as it did. We therefore grant defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint as to the issue of plaintiff's removal as International vice-president.
3. Plaintiff's Status as a Member of Local 101
Shortly before the events that lead to plaintiff's termination as vice-president, he declared his intention to run for president of Local 101.
In September, prepatory to his candidacy, plaintiff sent Local 101 a check for his union dues, which was returned with the advice that as a result of his hearing before the TWU, he might be ineligible for TWU membership. However, no protest having been filed against plaintiff's candicacy, the Local 101 election committee ruled him eligible and so informed him on November 1, 1990. Pl. 3(g) at para. 13-15, 17; Local 101 3(g) at para. 22 (election committee ruling on plaintiff's candidacy).
Later that day, anticipating that this decision might be challenged, the election committee sought an interpretation of the TWU constitution's membership provisions from Leitz, whose rulings as president with respect to the union constitution "shall be deemed true and proper and shall be given full force and effect." Id.; Leitz Aff., Exh. 1 at 8. Leitz ruled that "to be eligible for membership, a person must either be employed in an industry within the jurisdiction of the Union, or hold an office or staff position in a Local or in the International Union." Pl. Exh. 15.
On November 6, a third candidate for president made the anticipated challenge to plaintiff's eligibility. At the conclusion of long arguments by each of the candidates, and a two hour debate, the election committee ruled plaintiff ineligible, citing Leitz's interpretation and plaintiff's non-employment in the industry and non-status as either officer of staff member of a local or the TWU.
3 (g) at paras. 22-23.
Plaintiff opened a second front in his battle to stay on the Local 101 election ballot by filing an Order to Show Cause that we signed on October 19, 1990. He sought leave to file an amended complaint adding Local 101,
and requested a preliminary injunction against their preventing his bid for president because he had allegedly lost his union membership. We denied the application for an injunction by Memorandum and Order of November 5, 1990 on the grounds that it was a claim under Title IV of the Act and, as such, we did not have jurisdiction to act on it. Plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint with the Department of Labor protesting the Local 101 election and his exclusion from participating in it as a candidate. On May 23, 1991, the Secretary, based on that complaint, filed suit against Local 101 in the Eastern District of New York. On August 21, Plaintiff intervened in that action. Plaintiff's petition alleged, inter alia:
3. On or about November 1, 1990, defendant [Local 101] unlawfully and in violation of [the] Act excluded intervenor's name from the ballot for the subject election.
4. Thereupon, intervenor filed an action in . . . the Southern District of New York . . . in which he seeks to establish his rights as a member of the such Union, including, inter alia, his right to run for office.
5. . . . The District Court . . . held that one of intervenor's membership rights, namely his right to run for office, was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Labor Department . . .
6. Accordingly . . . intervenor filed a complaint with the Secretary of Labor alleging that he was unlawfully stricken from the ballot in the election for officers of Local 101 [and] the Secretary of Labor filed this action.
Pl. Compl. in Intervention in Cv. 91-1871 (E.D.N.Y.).
Plaintiff has presented nothing that moves us to depart from our earlier jurisdictional analysis with respect to our power to adjudicate his claim against Local 101. As we then observed:
if plaintiff in the guise of a Title I claim has alleged what is instead a violation of a Title IV right, we are without jurisdiction to entertain his application.
. . . We note at the outset that, notwithstanding plaintiff's attempts otherwise to characterize the relief requested, he is seeking an injunction which in substance will make unlawful an attempt by the Local to declare plaintiff ineligible to run for office by reason of his loss of membership in the Union. We further note that § 101(a)(1) of Title I, upon which plaintiff bases his claim for relief, makes no mention of eligibility to run for office or any right a member may have thereto. However, Title IV does. . . . It would appear . . . that plaintiff's claim arises not from Title I but from Title IV.
November 5, 1990 Memorandum and Order at 5-6.
Plaintiff's goal in seeking a declaration that he is a member in good standing in the union remains unchanged from when we so held. Moreover, assuming such analysis to have been flawed, there can be no doubt that every question plaintiff now seeks to bring before us can be determined in the Eastern District action brought by the Secretary of Labor, whose jurisdiction is concededly broader than ours. Accordingly, as a matter of law and in the exercise of our discretion, we dismiss the claim against Local 101.
New York, New York
January 21, 1992
WHITMAN KNAPP, U.S.D.J.