The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONNER
Plaintiff Local Union No. 38, Sheet Metal Workers' International Association, AFL-CIO ("Local 38") brought this action pursuant to section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 185, against defendant Anthony Tripodi ("Tripodi") to enforce a $ 21,000 fine assessed by Local 38 against Tripodi for alleged violations of the Constitution and Ritual of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association and Affiliated Local Unions, State District and Provincial Councils (the "Union Constitution"). Plaintiff is an unincorporated labor organization with its principal office in Brewster, New York, and regularly conducts its business and activities in the States of New York and Connecticut. Defendant, a resident of Connecticut, was a member of Local 38 during some, but not all, times relevant to this case. Defendant was charged with violations of the Union Constitution, and he was fined $ 21,000.
This court conducted a one-day bench trial on December 12, 1995. This opinion constitutes the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 52(a). For the reasons discussed below, we enter judgment in favor of defendant.
Defendant Tripodi had been a loyal member of Local 38 for some thirty years. In March 1993, defendant was laid off by his employer, Donald Creadore Co. Inc. Defendant claims that he was laid off, at least in part, because he was a loyal member of Local 38 and adhered to union rules. Local 38 declined to champion his cause when he was laid off, and Tripodi was left to seek work elsewhere.
Unable to find work with a "union shop," defendant opened his own business in May 1993 under the name of Professional Sheet Metal and Roofing, Inc. The Union Constitution requires that members who become owners of a sheet metal shop or business obtain a withdrawal card and, inter alia, operate under a union agreement ("Union Agreement").
In August 1994, Local 38 received an anonymous tip that a member of Local 38 was conducting sheet metal work without a Union Agreement. After an investigation, Local 38 concluded that Tripodi was the responsible party. On October 5, 1994, at a hearing before the Executive Council of Local 38 (the "Hearing"), Tripodi was charged with violating seven provisions of the Union Constitution. After the Hearing, the Executive Council issued a fine of $ 3,000 per violation, or a total of $ 21,000. Defendant has neither paid nor appealed this fine. Local 38 brought the instant action to collect the $ 21,000 fine assessed at the Hearing.
Defendant's principal argument is that he was no longer a member of Local 38 at the time of the alleged violations and at the time of the Hearing. He argues that the Executive Committee and Local 38 thus lacked the power to issue a fine against him. He argues in the alternative that, even assuming that he technically was a member of Local 38, plaintiff still may not fine him for operating a sheet metal business without a Union Agreement because he was given leave to do so.
At trial, Local 38 presented three witnesses and introduced various documents into evidence. The crux of its case is as follows:
1) In August 1994, defendant Tripodi performed sheet metal work at two locations without first receiving a "withdrawal card" from Local 38. At the time, Tripodi was a member of Local 38 and a signatory to the Union Constitution which provided, inter alia, that
Good standing members who become owners, partners, agents, contractors, or subcontractors . . . of a sheet metal shop or business . . . shall be eligible to receive and retain withdrawal cards only if, (1) such sheet metal shop or business in which they are interested continues to operate under a Union Agreement with the local union in whose jurisdiction such business is conducted, (2) not more than one (1) person connected or associated with the management of the sheet metal shop or business in which they are interested, whether such persons hold withdrawal cards or not, works with the tools of the trade and then in the shop only, and (3) at least one (1) member of this Association is employed on all work covered by Article One (1), Section 5 of this Constitution. . . .
Ex. 2 art. 16 § 6(c), at 78.
2) The Executive Committee of Local 38 conducted a hearing on October 5, 1994, where defendant was given an opportunity to answer the "Charges of Misconduct," which charged defendant with violating seven provisions
of the Union Constitution. Plaintiff assessed a $ 21,000 fine ($ 3,000 per provision violated).
3) Defendant had paid his dues through the end of October 1994, and terminated his membership by letter dated October 21, 1994. Therefore, he was a member of Local ...