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CAMARATA v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMSTERS

September 24, 1979

PETER CAMARATA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PRATT

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. This is an action under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. § 401, et seq., for a declaratory judgment that a union publication has discriminated in favor of and against certain candidates in violation of §§ 401(c) and 501(a) of the Act and for injunctive relief to prohibit future violations and to require the union publication to carry in future issues articles which publicize plaintiffs' political activities. In a memorandum opinion dated December 12, 1978, plaintiffs' claim under § 501(a) was dismissed. An evidentiary hearing on the remaining claim was held on March 12-14, 1979.

 The Parties

 2. Plaintiff Peter Camarata is currently a member in good standing of Teamsters, Truck Drivers Local Union 299, Detroit, Michigan. Plaintiff Jack Vlahovic is currently a member in good standing of Teamsters, Building Material, Construction and Fuel Drivers Local Union 213, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Both local unions are affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America (hereinafter, International Union). Both plaintiffs are members of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). In early June, 1978, plaintiff Camarata announced his intention to run for the office of general president of the International Union and plaintiff Vlahovic announced his intention to run for the office of general secretary-treasurer of the International Union at the next convention of the International Union which will be conducted in June of 1981.

 3. Camarata has never been elected to any office in any affiliated teamster organization nor has he ever been employed on a full or part-time basis by any teamster entity. Camarata ran for the office of vice-president of the Local Union 299 in December, 1977 and finished third in the voting out of four candidates. He has never held any official position with any teamster affiliate. Camarata has been a member and officer of TDU since its inception in September, 1976.

 4. Vlahovic does not presently hold any official position with any teamster affiliate nor has he held such a position at any time since September, 1977. In 1976, Vlahovic was elected to the office of secretary-treasurer of Local Union 213, a position he held from January 11, 1977 through September 21, 1977. Prior to his election, Vlahovic had served Local 213 for approximately six years as an appointed business agent. Vlahovic has been a member of TDU since late June or early July, 1977.

 5. Defendant International Union is a "labor organization" as defined by § 3(i) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 402(i), with its principal place of business located in the District of Columbia. As such, the International Union must conduct periodic elections of officers, as prescribed by Title IV of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 481 et seq. The International Union is governed by a constitution, the current edition of which was adopted by the duly-elected delegates to the last International Convention held during the period June 14-17, 1976.

 6. Defendants Frank E. Fitzsimmons and Ray Schoessling are the general president and general secretary-treasurer, respectively, of the International Union and, as such, are "officers" within the meaning of § 3(n) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 402(n). Each was elected to a five-year term of office by the duly-elected delegates to the International Union's 1976 convention. They are the principal executive officers of the International Union. (Constitution, Articles VI and VII).

 Election Procedures

 7. Pursuant to Article IV, Section 2(d) of the Constitution, nominations and an election will be held to fill the offices of general president and general secretary-treasurer, as well as the remaining sixteen (16) positions on the International Union's general executive board and three (3) trustees, at the next convention scheduled to be conducted during June, 1981. Candidates for International Union office will be nominated at the convention and elected by delegates who have been elected by the members of affiliated bodies in accordance with the provisions of Article III, Section 5 of the International Constitution.

 8. Local unions affiliated with the International Union are entitled to send a specified number of delegates to the Convention based upon the average membership of the local union over a two-year period. (Constitution, Article III, Section 2). The number of delegates to which a local union is entitled is determined at the time of the Call for the Convention, issued by the general secretary-treasurer no less than ninety (90) calendar days prior to the convening of the convention (Constitution, Article III, Section 1).

 9. Local union officers and business agents who have been elected by secret ballot vote of the membership of their local union are potential delegates to any convention which may take place during their term of office (Constitution, Article III, Section 5(a)(1)).Officers and business agents elected in local unions located in the United States are generally elected to serve a three-year term of office. (Constitution, Article XXII, Section 3(a)). Officers and business agents elected in local unions located in Canada may have a term of office up to five years in length. (Constitution, Article XXII, Section 3(a)). Local union officers are usually elected on the basis of their familiarity with local problems and to provide day-to-day representation for the members of that union.

 10. If, at the time of the Call for the Convention, a local union is entitled to a number of delegates in excess of the total number of elected officers and elected business agents, the local must conduct a secret ballot election to select additional delegates. Elections for the purpose of selecting additional delegates must be conducted in the same manner as are elections of local union officers and must comply with the requirements of Title IV of the Act. Elections to select additional delegates must be conducted during the period immediately prior to the convening of the convention. (Constitution, Article III, Section 5). Candidates for position as delegates sometimes run on platforms committed to positions on national union matters which may be considered at the convention.

 11. Each local union affiliated with the International Union is governed by a seven member executive board comprised of officers elected by secret ballot vote in accordance with the requirements of Title IV. (Constitution, Article XXII, Section 2(a)). Each local union must adopt its own bylaws in which the local's principal officer must be specifically designated. (Constitution, Article XXII, Section 1).

 12. In the event a local union is advised, at the time of the Call for the Convention, that it is entitled to fewer delegates than the total number of elected officers and elected business agents, then the principal officer of the local union has first priority to serve as a delegate. (Constitution, Article III, Section 5(a)(2)). If the local union is entitled to send delegates in addition to the principal officer, or if the principal officer elects not to attend the convention, then the local union's executive board shall designate from among the remaining elected officers and elected business agents who shall attend the convention. (Constitution, Article III, Section 5(a)(2)).

 13. The number of delegates any local union will be entitled to send to the 1981 convention cannot be determined at this time or at any time prior to the Call for the Convention. Nor can the identity of any delegate from any individual local union be determined at this time. However, local union officers and business agents elected by secret ballot vote during 1988, 1979 and 1980, provided their terms of office expire after June, 1981, and provided that they are still in office at that time, are potential delegates to the 1981 convention.

 14. Candidates for any office on the general executive board of the International Union or for the offices of International Trustee must be nominated during the sessions of the convention. (Constitution, Article IV, Section 2). There are no other requirements for nomination. Candidates need not be delegates or alternate delegates to the convention or even be present at the convention. Candidates seeking office in the International Union must have been in continuous good standing status in an affiliated local union during the twenty-four (24) consecutive months prior to the month in which the convention is convened and must have been continuously employed at the craft within the International Union's jurisdiction during the same period of time. (Constitution, Article II, Section 4(a)(1), (2) and (3)). Good standing status requires payment of monthly dues on or before the last business day of the current month. (Constitution, Article X, Section 5(c)). Nominees must accept nomination at the time made, either in person or, if absent, in writing. (Constitution, Article IV, Section 2).

 15. The twenty-four (24) month period, within which a prospective candidate seeking election to an International Union office at the 1981 convention must maintain continuous good standing and employment at the craft, does not begin until June 1, 1979 and will expire on May 31, 1981. Accordingly, the eligibility of plaintiffs as candidates for office in the defendant International Union cannot be determined before the first day of June, 1981. There is, however, nothing in the union constitution or bylaws which prevented them from announcing their candidacy at any time.

 The International Teamster

 16. The official publication of the International Union is the International Teamster (hereinafter I.T.), a monthly magazine mailed to each of the union's approximately 2.3 million members. From August, 1961 through June, 1978, issues of the I.T. were published under the direction of Wellington Allen Biggs (hereinafter Biggs). Since the July, 1978 issue, the I.T. has been published under the supervision of Carl Fritz Zeller (hereinafter Zeller). Zeller began his employment with the International Union on June 1, 1978, having been hired in early May, 1978.

 18. As a result of the changes in editorial style, since July, 1978, the number of pictures of Fitzsimmons and Schoessling and the number of times their names have appeared in the magazine have decreased in comparison to the number of pictures and names appearing in issues published prior to July, 1978. Statistics provided by plaintiffs reveal that the name "Frank E. Fitzsimmons" appeared in the magazines published during the period April, 1977 through June, 1978 an average of 34.71 times per issue and Fitzsimmons' picture appeared an average of 8.2 times per issue. However, during the period July, 1978 through January, 1979, the name appeared an average of 15.14 times per issue while the picture appeared only 3.43 times per issue. Comparable figures for Ray Schoessling show about 12.4 times per issue pre-July, 1978 and 6.0 times per issue from July, 1978 through January, 1979. Schoessling's picture appeared 3.81 times per issue and 3.00 times per issue during the respective periods. ince February, 1979, the pictures and names of Fitzsimmons and Schoessling have appeared less frequently. See defendants' supplement exhibits 1A-1F. These references, if originally overdone and somewhat tasteless, are the typical coverage of the activities of the principal officers of an organization in its "house organ." The dosage of "pablum and ...


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