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STOJANOV v. ROCHESTER TELEPHONE WORKERS ASSOCIATION

April 29, 2003

SANDY STOJANOV, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS
v.
ROCHESTER TELEPHONE WORKERS ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANT.



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

DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiffs are five current or former members of the Rochester Telephone Workers Association ("RTWA" or "the union") who seek relief pursuant to the Labor Management Reporting Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 401, et seq. ("LMRDA"). Plaintiffs' complaint alleges that the union violated their rights guaranteed by Sections 101(a)(1) and (a)(2) of the LMRDA in connection with a November 2002 election in which the RTWA membership voted to affiliate with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees ("UNITE"), a national union.

Currently pending before the Court is plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to invalidate the affiliation election, and order a new election held under what plaintiffs describe as circumstances that would ensure "an informed and meaningful" vote. Plaintiffs previously moved for a temporary restraining order to block the pending affiliation election. I denied that motion on November 27, 2002.

After denying the TRO, the Court gave the parties additional time within which to file further written materials on the motion for preliminary injunction. Dkt. #10. RTWA filed the affidavit of Darlene Kelly, its Secretary and Treasurer. Dkt. #14. Plaintiffs filed only a supplemental memorandum of law. Dkt. #15. They filed no other evidence and chose to rely on their filings in support their application for the TRO, which included several unsworn statements from certain Frontier employees. See Dkt. #5.

For substantially the same reasons that I denied the TRO, I likewise deny plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Until the affiliation with UNITE, RTWA had always been an independent local union. However, on November 15, 2002, the RTWA Executive Board and Board of Representatives announced to the RTWA membership that it had unanimously approved a resolution to affiliate with UNITE. One of the primary reasons the RTWA leadership elected to affiliate with UNITE was because of past campaigns by a rival union, the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO ("CWA"), to gain support among RTWA members.

The November 15 announcement was the first time that RTWA informed its members that an affiliation was being considered. Further, the election to accept or reject the affiliation agreement between RTWA and UNITE occurred on Tuesday, November 26, 2002, just eleven days after the election was announced. RTWA did not announce the time or place of the election until November 20.

RTWA held two informational meetings on the proposed affiliation. The first occurred on November 20 at the UNITE office. Approximately 47 bargaining unit members attended. RTWA President Marie Rodgers announced that she would not answer any questions about the CWA, or any proposals for RTWA to affiliate with it instead of UNITE. In addition, RTWA did not permit expelled members from attending the meeting to voice their opposition to affiliation. Plaintiffs Bockus and Lembaris were among those former RTWA members who were excluded from the informational meeting.

A second meeting was held on November 22 at RTWA offices. At the meeting, Rodgers stated that RTWA would not, under any circumstances, affiliate with CWA, even if the membership rejected the affiliation agreement with UNITE.

Plaintiff Stojanov requested a copy of the proposed affiliation agreement, but RTWA denied her request. She also requested a telephone and mailing list of all RTWA members in order to contact them to express her opposing views on affiliation. RTWA Secretary Darlene Kelly informed Stojanov that she would need to check with RTWA's attorney first because the membership list contained confidential information. The record indicates that Stojanov never obtained a copy of the membership list, but does not indicate why RTWA denied her request.

On November 26, 2002, RTWA members voted in favor of affiliation with UNITE by a vote of 285 to 106. Approximately eleven challenged ballots were cast by members whose status with the RTWA was under review. Those votes were never counted ...


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