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NEW DIRECTIONS v. SEDA

November 9, 1994

NEW DIRECTIONS and TIM SCHERMERHORN, Plaintiffs,
v.
DAMASO SEDA, as President of LOCAL 100, TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION OF AMERICA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HAROLD BAER, JR.

 Plaintiffs bring this action under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., alleging that defendant Damaso Seda, the incumbent President of Local 100, Transport Workers of America ("Local 100"), violated Sections 401(c) and 481(c) of the LMRDA by distributing, at the expense of the membership, pre-election campaign materials supporting his re-election without providing plaintiffs an equal opportunity to distribute their election materials.

 Plaintiffs have moved for a preliminary injunction (1) requiring Local 100 to pay for a similar distribution of their campaign literature; and (2) restraining Local 100 from further violations. Defendant has moved to consolidate plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and seek a ruling by this Court on the underlying issue of a permanent injunction.

 For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to consolidate is GRANTED; and plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, now considered as a claim for a permanent injunction, is also GRANTED.

 For the purposes of this opinion, the following facts are undisputed and accepted as true. Local 100 is a labor organization that represents approximately 35,000 employees in the New York City transportation system, of which approximately 32,000 are employees of the New York City Transit Authority ("TA"). New Directions is a caucus within Local 100 opposed to the union's current policies, and Tim Schermerhorn is New Direction's presidential candidate in the upcoming triennial union election. Mr. Schermerhorn is a founding member of New Directions and has run unsuccessfully as New Directions' presidential candidate in both 1988 and 1991. Defendant Damaso Seda is Local 100's incumbent President.

 In May 1994, while Local 100 was renegotiating its collective bargaining agreement with the TA, Local 100 paid for and distributed a newsletter to its union members. The newsletter contained an article written by President Seda entitled "New Directions at it Again," wherein he made, inter alia, the following statement:

 
It is obvious to me that New Directions wants--let me put this a little stronger--is praying for me and my fellow officers to fail in the negotiations so that they have an issue to run on later this year. In other words, New Directions wants you--the rank and file member--to get screwed on this contract so that they can say, "see, we told you so, vote for us."

 In response to Seda's article, Schermerhorn wrote a letter to Seda, dated July 7, 1994, describing the article as "campaign literature" and objecting to the use of Local 100's funds to finance its circulation. Schermerhorn demanded in the same letter "that Local 100 print, or pay the cost of printing, a campaign piece by New Directions and that it be mailed to the members at the Local's expense." Id. There was no response to Schermerhorn's letter.

 In October 1994, Schermerhorn circulated his nomination petition to head New Direction's election slate as its presidential candidate in the November elections. Voting ballots are scheduled to be distributed on or about November 20, 1994. The election will be held in November and December 1994.

 Section 481(c) of the LMRDA provides, in pertinent part, that:

 
whenever . . . labor organizations or its [sic] officers authorize the distribution by mail or otherwise to members of campaign literature on behalf of any candidate or of the labor organization itself with reference to such election, similar distribution at the request of any other bona fide candidate shall be made by such labor organization and its officers, with equal treatment as to the expense of such distribution.

 29 U.S.C. § 481(c) (1985).

 Plaintiffs claim that Seda's article violated Section 481(c) because it was impermissible campaign literature. Accordingly, they seek similar distribution of their campaign literature at Local 100's expense. Conversely, defendant argues that neither Tim Schermerhorn nor New Directions was a "bona fide candidate" under Section 481(c), thereby precluding plaintiffs from exercising the statute's remedial ...


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