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HERMAN v. LOCAL LODGE 197

August 8, 1997

ALEXIS M. HERMAN, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff, against LOCAL LODGE 197, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF BOILERMAKERS, IRON SHIP BUILDERS, BLACKSMITHS, FORGERS AND HELPERS, AFL-CIO, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCAVOY

 I. BACKGROUND

 A. Procedural History

 The Secretary of Labor initiated this action pursuant to Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 401, et seq. ("Act") against defendant Local Lodge 197, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO ("Lodge 197"). The Secretary contends that Lodge 197 violated section 401(e) of the Act when it denied a member in good standing the reasonable opportunity to be a candidate for union office. Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56, the Secretary now moves for summary judgment to have the election declared void and to have a new election ordered under the Secretary's supervision. Lodge 197 opposes the Secretary's summary judgment motion and has cross-moved for summary judgment in its favor. The below discussion considers both motions as the parties agree that no genuine issue of material fact exists.

 Lodge 197 is an affiliate local lodge of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, AFL-CIO. As such, Lodge 197 is subject to, and governed by, the provisions of the Constitution of the International Union, and of the By-laws of Lodge 197.

 The International Constitution generally provides that members "shall have attended regular meetings of the Lodge to establish eligibility." Article 37.4.1.4. The By-laws of Lodge 197 further address nomination eligibility in two pertinent sections. First, section 5.2 sets forth the general rules for office eligibility, and provides:

 
In addition to all other requirements, to be eligible for nomination and election to office in this Lodge, a member must have attended at least one meeting in each of the five calendar quarters immediately preceding his illness, Union duties, regular employment under a contract between the Union and his employer, or some other unavoidable situation.

 Second, section 5.3 sets forth an excuse provision to section 5.2, which states:

 
A member who has not attended at least one meeting in a calendar quarter for any of the reasons given in 5.2 shall present to the President within twenty (20) days after the end of the quarter his written reason for nonattendance at each of the meetings he missed. If his reason(s) is (are) acceptable to the President his name shall be entered in the book for each such meeting with a notation that his absence has been excused, and the President shall report his action at the next regular meeting and be so recorded in the meeting minutes.

 On March 14, 1996, Lodge 197 held a nominations meeting for the election of Lodge officers. Charles McNally, a member in good standing, attended that meeting with the intention of seeking a nomination. During the course of the meeting, Local 197 Recording Secretary David Tarrity advised Mr. McNally that he was ineligible for office because he had failed to attend any of the three meetings during the fourth quarter of 1995 as required by Lodge 197 By-law section 5.2. Although Mr. McNally had been excused from one of the fourth quarter meetings, he had not requested to be excused from either of the other two fourth quarter meetings in accordance with section 5.3.

 On March 15, 1996, Mr. McNally wrote a letter to the President of Boilermakers' International requesting his name be included on the nomination list. On March 22, 1996, Joseph A. Stinger, Assistant to the President of the International, denied Mr. McNally's request to run for office.

 On April 22, 1996, Mr. McNally filed a complaint with the Secretary of Labor. Thereafter, the Secretary ...


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