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UNITED STATES v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMSTERS

August 17, 1995

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, - against - INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, et al., Defendants. IN RE: GOVERNMENT'S APPLICATION TO ENJOIN PLAINTIFFS IN DARROW
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, 94 Civ. 02113 (D.D.C.) (RJ), FROM PROSECUTING THAT CASE IN ANY COURT OR FORUM OTHER THAN THIS COURT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DAVID N. EDELSTEIN

 EDELSTEIN, District Judge:

 This opinion emanates from the voluntary settlement of an action commenced by United States of America against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("the IBT" or "the Union") and the IBT's General Executive Board. This settlement was embodied in the voluntary consent order entered March 14, 1989 ("the Consent Decree"). The goal of the Consent Decree is to rid the IBT of the hideous influence of organized crime through a two-phased implementation of the Consent Decree's various remedial provisions. In the first phase of the Consent Decree, these provisions provided for three court-appointed officers: the Independent Administrator to oversee the Consent Decree's provisions, the Investigations Officer to bring charges against corrupt IBT members, and the Election Officer to supervise the electoral process that led up to and included the 1991 election for International Union Office. In the second phase of the Consent Decree, the Independent Administrator was replaced by a three-member Independent Review Board ("the IRB"). Further, paragraph 12(D)(ix) of the Consent Decree provides that "the union defendants consent to [an] Election Officer, at Government expense, to supervise the 1996 IBT Elections."

 During its six-year history, the Consent Decree has spawned a tremendous amount of litigation that has required this Court to issue numerous opinions. In one of those opinions, pursuant to this Court's authority under the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), this Court enjoined all "local unions, joint councils, area conferences, and other entities affiliated with the IBT . . . from filing or taking any legal action that challenges, impedes, seeks review of or relief from, or seeks to prevent or delay any act of any of the court officers appointed . . . pursuant to the Consent [Decree] in this action, in any court or forum in any jurisdiction except this Court." January 17, 1990, Opinion & Order, 728 F. Supp. 1032, 1038 n.5 (S.D.N.Y.) ("All Writs Act Decision"), modification denied, 735 F. Supp. 502 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd, 907 F.2d 277 (2d. Cir. 1990).

 In the instant motion, brought pursuant to this Court's All Writs Act Decision, the Government seeks to enjoin plaintiffs in Darrow v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 94 Civ. 02113 (D.D.C.) (RJ) ("Darrow "), which is an action filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, from pursuing that action in any court or forum in any jurisdiction except this Court.

 BACKGROUND

 The Darrow plaintiffs claim that the Caucus and the Defense Fund are two voluntary organizations that IBT members recently created to address problems within the IBT. (See Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Government's Motion for Injunctive Relief at 6-7.) The Darrow plaintiffs assert that IBT members "are upset with the failure of the International Union to call a special convention that would allow delegates from every affiliate to meet, discuss, debate and adopt appropriate reforms to deal with the Union's serious financial problems." Id. at 6. The Darrow plaintiffs also contend that these IBT members are "equally upset by the International Union's failure to take any meaningful action to limit expenses." Id. Moreover, the Darrow plaintiffs claim that various IBT policies "have made it increasingly difficult for local unions and other affiliates to operate, to organize new members and to negotiate good contracts." Id.

 The Darrow plaintiffs assert that thirty-three IBT members and officers met in Chicago in June 1994 to discuss these problems. See id. at 7. The Darrow plaintiffs state that these IBT members and officers "met, discussed, debated and adopted resolutions and bylaws forming two voluntary organizations--the Real Teamsters Caucus and The Teamster Affiliates Defense and Education Fund." Id. The Darrow plaintiffs claim that "the purpose of the Caucus is to provide members and officers with information on what is going on in the Union and with a forum in which they can meet and discuss the Union's problems and recommend mutual action to rebuild the Union and its treasury." Id. The Darrow plaintiffs assert that "the purpose of the Defense . . . Fund is to support specific educational projects to inform members, officers and affiliates about their rights and to support proceedings and activities to protect and enforce those rights." Id.

 The Darrow plaintiffs contend that the Darrow defendants improperly have sought to eliminate the Caucus and the Defense Fund. The Darrow plaintiffs assert that "almost from the very beginning, the International Union and the other defendants threatened disciplinary and other action against the members and officers who participated in the Caucus and the Defense Fund." Id. at 9. The Darrow plaintiffs claim that the Darrow defendants discussed eliminating the Caucus and the Defense Fund during a meeting of IBT International officers. See id. at 10. The Darrow plaintiffs assert that defendant Carey sent two electronic-mail messages to all IBT affiliates that warned IBT members that the Caucus and the Defense Fund may be violating the IBT Constitution. See id. The Darrow plaintiffs allege that the IBT also sent an electronic-mail message to IBT members that warned that "officers who use members' dues money to fund [the Caucus or the Defense Fund] despite this information may expose themselves to liability under federal law and/or internal union discipline." Id. at 14.

 The Darrow plaintiffs claim that "the effect of this series of threats prompted a number of the members, officers and joint councils . . . to file the Darrow action" in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Id. at 14. In that action, the Darrow plaintiffs allege that the Darrow defendants violated Title I of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(2), "by threatening to take punitive action against IBT members, officers and affiliates who voice their disagreement with and dissent from policies and programs pursued by the International Union, General President Ron Carey and his loyalists, including defendants Sever and Gilmartin." (See Darrow v. IBT, 94 Civ. 02113 (D.D.C.) (RJ), Amended Complaint P 54.) In their prayer for relief, the Darrow plaintiffs request:

 
that the Court issue a permanent injunction prohibiting defendants, their officers, employees and agents and any person acting in concert with them from threatening, restraining, coercing, using any Union resources or taking any other action against plaintiffs or any other IBT members, officers or affiliates because they participate in or authorize any contributions to the Caucus or the Defense Fund.

 Id. 23-24.

 The Darrow plaintiffs also seek a declaratory judgment under Section 401(g) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 481(g), which provides: "No moneys received by any labor organization by way of dues, assessment, or similar levy . . . shall be contributed or applied to promote the candidacy of any person in an [internal union] election. . . ." Id. P 58 (quoting 29 U.S.C. § 481(g)). The Darrow plaintiffs claim that the Darrow defendants have, in effect, accused plaintiffs of violating Section 401(g) of the LMRDA, and plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment stating that they have not violated this statute.

 In their Answer to the Darrow plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, the Darrow defendants deny plaintiffs' claims on every major point. The Darrow defendants' Answer also cites to a memorandum that defendants assert was prepared for the "Caucus and/or the Defense Fund" by Delacorte & Shinoff, which is a public relations firm ("the Shinoff memorandum"). (See Darrow v. IBT, 94 Civ. 02113 (D.D.C.) (RJ), Answer P 50.) The Darrow Defendants contend that the Shinoff memorandum describes "a strategy to create a national caucus to become a 'shadow government' and 'national campaign committee' following a revocation of the charters of the former IBT Area Conferences." Id. The Darrow defendants claim that "the Shinoff Memo is evidence that the Caucus and the Defense Fund were created for the purpose of promoting candidates for union office in violation of Section 401(g) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 481(g), Section 501(a) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 501(a) and the IBT Constitution." Id.

 After the Darrow plaintiffs brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the Darrow defendants moved to transfer venue to this Court, arguing that this Court is the exclusive venue "for proceedings like this implicating the Consent Decree between the IBT and the U.S. Government." (Darrow v. IBT, 94 Civ. 02113 (D.D.C.) (RJ), Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue at 2.) The Darrow plaintiffs filed a brief in opposition to the Darrow defendants' motion.

 Thereafter, the Government wrote a letter to the Honorable Norma Holloway Johnson ("Judge Johnson"), the district judge hearing the Darrow litigation. In this letter, the Government states that "because the Darrow litigation necessarily implicates the enforcement of the Consent Decree entered in the United States v. IBT case, the Government will shortly be filing an application in the Southern District of New York . . . seeking to enjoin the Darrow proceedings from being litigated in any forum other than the Southern District." Letter from Christine H. Chung, Assistant United States Attorney, to Hon. Norma Holloway Johnson, at 1 (December 1, 1994). After the Government submitted this letter to Judge Johnson, the Darrow plaintiffs moved to stay the proceedings in the District of Columbia, pending this Court's decision of the Government's forthcoming motion to enjoin the Darrow plaintiffs. (See Darrow v. IBT, 94 Civ. 02113 (D.D.C.) (RJ), Plaintiffs' Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Disposition of the Consent ...


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