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SADLOWSKI v. MARSHALL

February 8, 1979

Edward SADLOWSKI et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
F. Ray MARSHALL, Secretary of Labor, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

This is a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief brought by plaintiffs, unsuccessful candidates in the February 8, 1977 election for International Officers of the United Steelworkers of America ("USWA"), against the Secretary of Labor for his alleged failure to make a full and complete investigation of the election. The complaint also alleges that the Secretary failed to carry out his duty as lawyer for the complaining union members and that his statement of reasons for not bringing suit demonstrates that the refusal to bring suit to overturn the election was arbitrary and capricious. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that plaintiffs' claims are without merit and grants defendant's and defendant-intervenor's motions for summary judgment.

 The USWA is the second largest union in the United States with approximately 1.4 million members. It is divided into 25 districts, 22 in the United States and 3 in Canada, each headed by a District Director who is an International Officer. There are approximately 4,125 local unions, of which 827 are in Canada. The union holds quadrennial elections for International Officers. The actual election is conducted by the local unions acting as agents for the International. The election that is the subject of this lawsuit took place on February 8, 1977.

 I. W. Abel, the incumbent International President, had announced that he would retire and would not be a candidate in the 1977 election. An officially endorsed slate of candidates for the five International Offices was announced at the August, 1976 USWA Convention. This slate was headed by Lloyd McBride as candidate for International President.

 On September 13, 1976, plaintiff Edward Sadlowski, who served as District Director for the largest USWA district, announced his candidacy for International President. The other members of his slate, all plaintiffs in this action, were Ignacio (Nash) Rodriguez for International Secretary, Andy Kmec for International Treasurer, Marvin Weinstock for Vice President for Administration, and Oliver Montgomery for Vice President for Human Affairs.

 In the fall of 1976, the International Union and plaintiff Sadlowski requested the Department of Labor ("DOL") to supervise the International election. This request was refused because Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA") *fn1" specifically provides for departmental supervision of a labor organization election only after an election has taken place and a departmental investigation based upon a member's complaint has established that violations of the LMRDA occurred during the election which may have affected the outcome. The Department, however, did agree to provide technical assistance with the conduct of the election. *fn2"

 The election resulted in a victory for McBride, who defeated Sadlowski by 328,861 votes to 249,281, a margin of 79,580 votes. All other members of the McBride slate also were elected, but the victory margin was less for some offices than in the race for International President. *fn3" On February 18, 1977, Sadlowski filed a timely protest regarding the election with the International Tellers under article V, section 18 of the USWA Constitution. One week later he filed an additional protest, challenging various election procedures and omissions in the tabulation of votes.

 The report of the International Tellers, dated April 28, 1977, acknowledged that a timely complaint had been filed and stated that in accord with the USWA Constitution, hearings would be conducted in twenty-five cities in the United States and Canada to hear protests involving election challenges in 367 locals. Sadlowski requested that his attorney be permitted to participate in these hearings, but this request was denied by the International Tellers on the ground that only USWA members could appear and participate in the hearings. After the hearings were held, the Tellers issued a report, denying Sadlowski's protests. The Sadlowski slate appealed this decision to the International Executive Board, which denied their appeal. McBride and his slate were installed in office on June 1, 1977.

  Having exhausted internal union remedies, the members of the Sadlowski slate filed a complaint pursuant to section 402(a) of the LMRDA *fn4" with the DOL, alleging violations of the Act in the conduct of the election. This statute authorizes the Secretary of Labor to conduct an investigation and if this investigation discloses probable cause to believe that there have been violations that may have affected the outcome, the Secretary is authorized to institute suit against the Union to set aside the election and secure a new election conducted under the Secretary's supervision. 29 U.S.C. ยง 482(b). The LMRDA requires that suits by the Secretary to overturn the results of an election must be initiated no later than sixty days from the filing of a complaint. Id. Because of the scope of the complaint, the Secretary obtained a series of waivers from the USWA which extended the deadline for filing suit from August 16, 1977 to November 11, 1977.

 Upon receipt of the Sadlowski complaint, the DOL initiated an investigation of the election. Two hundred and fifty investigators, including many who were specially detailed to this project from their normal assignments in other areas, were given special training and made available to work on the complaint. Each compliance officer was expected to work six days a week, ten hours a day. A special post office box was leased and all reports were mailed directly to the Washington office, which was open seven days a week. *fn5"

 The allegations made by Sadlowski in his complaint with respect to the nomination process preceding the election were not investigated because no timely protests regarding the nomination process were made and the Secretary consequently was precluded from making them the basis of a complaint. *fn6" The investigation encompassed each of the 301 United States locals named in the complaint as well as an additional 411 local unions investigated on the initiative of the DOL. *fn7" These locals were selected for investigation on the basis of factors indicating some reason for suspicion, such as lack of election returns, lopsided results, or information gathered in the technical assistance program. Interviews were conducted with 5,422 witnesses. *fn8"

 The complaint also alleged that election violations occurred in the Canadian local unions and districts. The DOL has no authority to investigate in Canada, but the Canadian Minister of Labor convened an industrial board of inquiry to investigate allegations regarding the conduct of the election in Canada. Mr. Roland Tremblay, a former provincial judge and president of the Arbitrators Conference in Quebec and of the Economic Arbitrators of Canada, was appointed to head the inquiry. On October 25, 1977, Commissioner Tremblay issued an Industrial Inquiry Commission Report and forwarded a copy to the DOL. In his statement of reasons the Secretary concluded that nothing in the Canadian report affected the conclusions reached by the United States investigation.

 In order to assess the cumulative impact of the violations disclosed by the election, the Secretary utilized the following system for quantifying, in terms of votes potentially affected, the significance of each violation found. When members' valid votes had not been tallied, their votes were credited as cast. When members were denied the right to vote, their votes were credited to Sadlowski on the theory that, if given the opportunity, they might have voted for him. When a violation such as inadequate safeguards or lack of secrecy cast doubt upon the validity of the election as a whole, all votes cast were regarded as void. When a violation such as expenditure of union funds or campaigning in the polling place tended to influence voters in favor of one candidate, all votes cast for that candidate that were subject to the improper influence were deducted from his total. When ineligible voters voted or eligible members voted more than once, their votes were deducted from ...


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