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YABLONSKI v. UMW

June 22, 1970

Joseph A. Yablonski et al., Plaintiffs
v.
United Mine Workers of America et al., Defendants


Corcoran, D. J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CORCORAN

CORCORAN, D. J.:

I.

 The Court has before it four separate cases involving the candidacy of the late Joseph A. Yablonski for President of the United Mine Workers of America. Each case is predicated upon provisions of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. (1964), the so called "Landrum-Griffin Act."

 For purposes of simplification each case is assigned an arbitrary label, i.e., C.A. No. 1662-69 is hereafter referred to as the "mailing list" case; C.A. 1799-69 as the "reinstatement" case; C.A. 2413-69 as the "journal" case; and C.A. 3061-69 as the "fair election" case. The defendants have moved to dismiss all but the "journal" case on grounds of mootness. The plaintiffs have moved for attorney's fees in each case and oppose defendant's motion to dismiss arguing that their claims for fees keep each case alive.

 II.

 A brief background of these cases will help to place the arguments in perspective.

 The "mailing list" case was based on § 401(c) of the LMRDA (29 U.S.C. § 481(c)). Section 401(c) provides inter alia that it shall be incumbent upon the union to distribute, at the expense of a bona fide candidate, campaign literature of such candidate to all union members in good standing. After argument the Court held Yablonski to be a bona fide candidate and granted a preliminary injunction requiring the union to distribute Yablonski's campaign literature at Yablonski's expense.

 The "reinstatement" case relied principally on § 609 of LMRDA (29 U.S.C. § 529) which prohibits any disciplinary action against a union member in retaliation for the exercise of that member's rights under the Act. Finding that Yablonski had been removed from a union office in retaliation for his candidacy, this Court entered a preliminary injunction requiring the union to reinstate Yablonski to the position he held prior to the announcement of his candidacy.

 The "journal" case was grounded in part on § 401(c) and § 401(g) of the LMRDA (29 U.S.C. § 481(c) and (g)) and in part upon § 501(a) of the same Act (29 U.S.C. § 501(a)). Section 401(c) prohibits inter alia discrimination in favor of or against any candidate with respect to the use of mailing lists in a union election. Section 401(g) expressly prohibits the application of any monies received by way of dues and assessments to the promotion of the candidacy of any person in a union election. Section 501(a) imposes fiduciary obligations upon the officers and other agents of the unions, particularly in connection with the expenditure of union funds. The Court (Pratt, J.) held the union in violation of § 401(c) and entered a preliminary injunction ordering the union to refrain from discriminating against Yablonski in the UMW Journal, the union publication distributed periodically to all union members. Yablonski v. United Mine Workers of America, 305 F. Supp. 868 (D.D.C. 1969). The § 501 (a) aspect of that case, that union funds were used to print incumbent President Boyle's campaign literature, has not yet been adjudicated.

 The "fair election" case was based on the theory that all potential violations of Subchapter V of the Act (which governs elections) (29 U.S.C. §§ 481-483) and of the union constitution were enjoinable under § 401(c). The Court (Hart, J.) concluded that it had limited jurisdiction in this case and, upon assurances by the union that it would comply with all the requirements of the Act and the union constitution, the Court declined to issue a preliminary injunction.

 Notwithstanding dismissals of the "mailing list", "reinstatement" and "fair election" cases the Court nevertheless heard argument as to whether it could grant attorney's fees for services rendered in connection with such cases. Thereafter the Court took the fee-award question under advisement. After careful examination of the LMRDA, its legislative history, and the relevant case law, the Court now concludes that the awarding of attorney's fees is not appropriate in those cases.

 III.

 The LMRDA is a highly complex and intricate statute regulating the conduct of a wide range of union affairs. A close examination of the statute shows that its remedies are carefully tailored to its specific substantive provisions. Each right given union members by the statute is accompanied by a specific, detailed remedy. These include private causes of action for damages or injunctions, actions or rule making by the Secretary of Labor pursuant to complaints of individual members, and criminal ...


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