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ANDRASZEK v. ROCHESTER TELEPHONE WORKERS

February 4, 2003

KATHY ANDRASZEK, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
V.
ROCHESTER TELEPHONE WORKERS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer, District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

Introduction

This case is an example of the old adage, "you can't have it both ways." The case before the Court involves thirteen union members who were expelled from their union for certain activities relating to efforts to replace their existing union with a rival one. The expelled members claim that their acts were protected "free speech" activities under the Labor Management Reporting Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 401, et seq. ("LMRDA"). The union, on the other hand, contends that the activities were not protected and that the members were properly disciplined.

I agree with the union that the activities here went far beyond expressing opinions about union leadership, which is protected, and became activity in direct competition with the union, which is not. The union, therefore, properly expelled those members for acts designed to displace the union with another.

Currently pending before the Court is plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint (Dkt. #12) and the union's cross-motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #16). As set forth below, plaintiffs' motion to amend is denied, and RTWA's motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part.

Facts

The basic facts of this case are undisputed. Plaintiffs were members of the defendant union, Rochester Telephone Workers Association ("RTWA"). At that time, RTWA represented approximately one-half of the work force at Frontier Telephone. The other one-half was represented by a rival union, Local 1170 of the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO ("CWA"). Historically, the RTWA has represented the clerical employees and the CWA has represented the outside or "line" employees.

Article XI — DISCIPLINE

Section 1. Offenses

Any member may be penalized as set forth in Section 3, hereof, for committing any one or more of the following offenses:
(a) Violation of any of the provisions of this Constitution, any collective bargaining agreement, or working rule of the Rochester Telephone Workers Association.
(c) Advocating or attempting to bring about the withdrawal from the Rochester Telephone Workers Association of any member or group of members.
(d) Working in the interest of or accepting membership in any organization opposed to the Rochester Telephone Workers Association.

Dkt. #14, Ex. B. Each plaintiff was charged with engaging in some or all of the prohibited acts. Dkt. #14, Ex. C.

RTWA sent each plaintiff a letter notifying her of the charges, the specific subdivision of the Constitution alleged to have been violated, and of the date of the hearing before RTWA's Committee of Representatives ("the Committee"). Dkt. #16, Ex. B. Section 3 of the RTWA Constitution provides that "[a]ny member convicted of any one or more of the above offenses may be suspended and removed from office and membership after a hearing before the Committee of Representatives, by a majority vote . . . ." Dkt. #16, Ex. D.

At the June 29, 2000 hearing, twelve of the thirteen plaintiffs appeared. All twelve admitted engaging in the acts charged and each pleaded "guilty," although all contended that such conduct was protected speech. The thirteenth plaintiff, Laurie Dominick, did not appear at the hearing. RTWA Hearing Officer Ellen Lynch announced at the hearing that ...


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