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DOLE v. GRAPHIC COMMUNS. INTL. UNION

September 22, 1989

ELIZABETH DOLE, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff,
v.
GRAPHIC COMMUNICATIONS INTERNATIONAL UNION, AFL-CIO, CLC, Defendant


Harold H. Greene, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREENE

HAROLD H. GREENE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This is a suit brought by the Secretary of Labor to set aside the results of an election held by the defendant Graphic Communications International Union. Plaintiff has filed a motion for summary judgment which will be considered below. The Court has jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to Section 402(b) of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. § 482(b).

 I

 Background

 Defendant is an international union made up of approximately 147,000 members in approximately 550 Locals throughout the United States and Canada. In February, 1988, the defendant union held its quadrennial elections for officers and general board members. These were the first elections conducted under a direct mail ballot procedure adopted by referendum of the union's members in May, 1987. Pursuant to that referendum, the following constitutional language was adopted in relevant part:

 
The elections of International Officers shall be by direct mail ballot conducted by the International Secretary-Treasurer . . . .
 
The International Secretary-Treasurer shall cause to be printed, self-addressed stamped envelopes, to be mailed together with the ballot, by the member voting to a lock post office box. . . .

 This procedure required the union to obtain the correct addresses of union members. In order to do so, the Secretary-Treasurer sent a letter to all Locals and District Councils on July 7, 1987, requesting updated membership lists, including members' last known addresses and their social security numbers. On October 21, 1987 and again on December 15, 1987, District Council No. 2 *fn1" provided the union with lists of some 14,000 members with their updated addresses, but did not include any social security numbers. The union advised Council No. 2 that the second list was unusable because the union could not cross-reference the names from the second list with those on the first without social security numbers.

 On February 11, 1988, the deadline for requesting duplicate ballots, Council No. 2 provided the names of 3,072 members who had requested duplicate ballots, but again provided no social security numbers. Because the union did not check any of the lists against previously submitted lists, many members of Council No. 2 never received ballots and never voted.

 Council No. 2, which had opposed the direct-mail voting procedures adopted by referendum, devised a plan the alleged purpose of which was to increase voter participation. Stewards were to collect voted ballots from the members. These ballots, enclosed in their addressed envelopes, were collected at the shops, placed in sealed boxes, and mailed to the post office box identified by the union. In order to increase participation, and presumably to encourage members to return their ballots to the stewards rather than to mail them themselves, Council No. 2 gave members who returned ballots to the stewards $ 3.00 in state lottery tickets or a check for that amount.

 Prior to implementing the plan, Fred Correll, Secretary-Treasurer of Council No. 2, spoke to Robert Slinskey, Chairman of the Board of Electors, to see if it would be permissible to return the ballots in bulk. Slinskey told him that the bulk mailing plan would be acceptable as long as each member voted a secret ballot.

 On or before February 17, 1988, Council No. 2 mailed twenty-six sealed boxes and one envelope containing voted ballots to the union. Four other boxes containing duplicate ballots were mailed subsequently. On March 1 and 2, 1988, the Board of Electors concluded that the ballots mailed in bulk were not voted in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and decided not to count any ballots returned in the boxes. This decision was not ...


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