of order did not violate his First Amendment rights).
In addition to the problems with plaintiff's argument addressed above, it appears that he did not appeal his challenge to the adjournment of the February 19, 1989 meeting under the Union's internal procedures. Even if the adjournment was defective, therefore, plaintiff has not shown that he properly exhausted his administrative remedies.
Finally, plaintiff has failed in any event to proffer competent evidence supporting his allegation of a "campaign to silence [him] and to punish him for his dissident views." Second Amended Complaint P 26. Even assuming plaintiff's version of the February 19, 1989 meeting, the challenged behavior is, at worst, episodic and not systematic. George's claim is that defendants engaged in an entire "pattern of conduct," Plaintiff's Mem., at 5, but the only evidence arguably sufficient to survive defendants' motion is of a single "back-turning" incident. Plaintiff fails to offer material evidence creating a genuine issue of fact on his claim that the Union systematically suppressed or punished him for his speech.
Because Feaster was within the scope of his authority when he adjourned the February 19, 1989 meeting and George has failed to proffer any materially probative evidence in support of his claim that Feaster applied the Rules of Order in a discriminatory manner, defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to George's First Amendment claim will be granted.
In his third amended complaint, George largely repeats the allegations of his original complaint. Relitigation of these claims is barred by the June 28, 1990 Memorandum and Order, which granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on these counts. However, George also includes several additional allegations of events occurring after he filed the original complaint. He claims that the Union improperly issued him a withdrawal card and then manipulated the referral hall rules to prevent him from gaining Union employment and thus from regaining active membership in the Union.
At all relevant times, George was employed by Ryder/Jacobs. The Union and Ryder/Jacobs were parties to a series of collective bargaining agreements, the most recent of which expired in 1985. Thereafter, the Union and Ryder/Jacobs negotiated until at least October 1988, when the events giving rise to this litigation occurred.
In response to charges filed by George, the National Labor Relations Board ruled on April 30, 1990, that Ryder/Jacobs lawfully refused to bargain with the Union because it had a good faith belief that the Union no longer represented a majority of the Ryder/Jacobs employees. See Defendants' Motion, Attachment 2. Subsequently, on June 26, 1990, the National Labor Relations Board, dismissing a second charge filed by George, reacknowledged this determination. See id., Attachment 12.
On February 14, 1991, the Union advised employees of Ryder/Jacobs that the National Labor Relations Board had found that the company no longer was required to bargain with the Union and that, given the Union's lack of representational rights, it was necessary to issue withdrawal cards six months after the members had become unemployed in the Union's jurisdiction. The letter further stated that to be eligible for a withdrawal card a member had to be current in his dues. See id., Attachment 14. Since George was the only member current in his dues, he was sent a withdrawal card with the February 14 letter. See id., Attachment 14. The remaining Ryder/Jacobs employees were suspended.
On February 22, 1991, George returned his withdrawal card to the Union with his dues for March and April. See id., Attachment 17. Both the card and dues were returned to him. See id., Attachment 18. George repeated this exercise on March 8, 1991, March 12, 1991, and again on April 27, 1991. See id., Attachments 22, 24, 33. Each time the Union returned the withdrawal card and the dues to him. See id., Attachment 23, 28. In response to George's final request, Feaster sent George a letter notifying him that his withdrawal card should have been effective earlier, and enclosed a revised withdrawal card. See id., Attachment 1.
Meanwhile, George appealed the decision to issue him a withdrawal card to Joint Council No. 55 on February 21, 1991. At George's request, the Joint Council transferred the appeal to the International Teamsters Union (the "International Union") without a hearing, but the International Union remanded the case with instructions that the Joint Council hold an expeditious hearing. See id., Attachments 16, 20, 26 & 27. The Joint Council conducted a hearing on May 7, 1991, and issued its decision on June 10, 1991. See id., Attachment 15. Based on the panel's determination "that Local Union #639 did not have a valid or enforceable Labor Agreement with Ryder/Jacobs," it unanimously concluded that the Union "was within [its] rights when [it] issued an Honorable Withdrawal Card to Daniel George on February 14, 1991." Id., Attachment 36.
George appealed the Joint Council's decision to the International Union on June 23, 1991. On November 5, 1991, the International Union affirmed the decision of the Joint Council.
George now challenges the Union's decision, as upheld by the International Union, to issue him a withdrawal card. At issue is defendants' interpretation of Article XVIII, § 6(a) of the Constitution of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (the "Constitution"), which states in relevant part:
When a member becomes unemployed in the jurisdiction of the Local Union, he shall be issued an honorable withdrawal card upon his request. If no request is made, an honorable withdrawal card must be issued six (6) months after the month in which the member first becomes unemployed, if he is still unemployed at that time. (Emphasis added.)
The Union maintains that because it lost its right to bargain with George's employer, Ryder/Jacobs, George was no longer employed "in the jurisdiction of the Local Union." George argues that the Union's "jurisdiction" extends to all people working "at the craft" and not only to people working "at the craft" in a union workplace and, therefore, the Union did not have the authority to issue him an involuntary withdrawal card.
A union's interpretation of its constitution and rules is entitled to deference, provided that interpretation is fair and reasonable. Pignotti v. Local #3 Sheet Metal Workers' Int'l Ass'n, 477 F.2d 825, 831 (8th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 1067 (1974); English v. Cunningham, 108 U.S. App. D.C. 365, 282 F.2d 848, 850 (D.C. Cir. 1960). In this case the unanimous conclusion of the Joint Council was that the issuance of the withdrawal card to George was proper because the Union "did not have a valid or enforceable Labor Agreement with Ryder/Jacobs." In other words, the Council, and then the International Union, accepted the Union's argument that George ceased to be "employed in the jurisdiction of the Local Union" when his employer no longer had a contract with the Union.
The parties' dispute presents a difficult issue on which there is scant guidance in legal authority. Article II, § 1(a) of the Constitution defines "jurisdiction" by listing the types of employment capable of being organized by the Union, without reference to the employer or the union status of the workplace. Section 2(a) of that same Article broadly states that "any person shall be eligible for membership in the organization," without significant restriction.
Therefore, there is no language explicitly including the concept of Union representation in the meaning of the term "jurisdiction."
Nevertheless, the Union's interpretation makes some logical sense. Once an employee ceases working for a company under contract with the Union, the Union can no longer represent the employee regarding the terms and conditions of employment. Although the employee may remain in the Local Union's geographical area and may continue to work "at the craft," the employee is no longer under the Union's protective umbrella, and in this sense is no longer employed within its "jurisdiction." Put another way, the Union may have "personal jurisdiction" but not "subject matter jurisdiction" over the employment relationship.
The Union's interpretation finds some indirect support in the language of some cases. See Bright v. Schlinke, 119 L.R.R.M. 3463, 3465 (E.D. Tex. 1984) (withdrawal card relieves former employees "from the burden of union dues when they had little or no income and when the union could do nothing to save their jobs") (emphasis added); Schmutz Foundry & Machine Co., 251 N.L.R.B. 1494, 1500 (1980), enf'd, 678 F.2d 657 (6th Cir. 1982) (an inactive member on withdrawal card may be restored to active status without payment of an initiation fee if he "is later employed on a job where the Union is the collective bargaining agent") (emphasis added). There is also some support for the Union's position in the practice among Teamsters local unions of issuing withdrawal cards when an employment relationship is not covered by a labor contract. See, e.g., Phillips v. Kennedy, 542 F.2d 52, 55 n.8 (8th Cir. 1976); Kehm v. Central Pa. Teamsters Pension Fund, C.A. 85-2241 (E.D. Pa. 1986) (Defendants' Motion, Attachment 45); Harley-Davidson Transportation Co., 273 N.L.R.B. 1531, 1535 (1985); Sinclair & Valentine Co., 238 N.L.R.B. 754, 756 (1978). These cases may be of limited value here, however, because they all appear to have involved the issuance of voluntary withdrawal cards.
Although there is no directly applicable authority supporting the Union's interpretation of Article XVIII, there also appears to be none rejecting it. Plaintiff's strongest argument is that the plain language of Article XVIII requires nothing more than employment "at the craft" for full membership status. However, there is no convincing reason why the term "jurisdiction" could not encompass the deeper meaning (analogous to subject matter jurisdiction) suggested by defendants. The Joint Council and the International Union adopted such an interpretation. The cases do indicate that the purpose of a withdrawal card is to protect employees from the burden of union dues. See, e.g., Bright, 119 L.R.R.M. at 3465. On the other hand, there apparently is no case suggesting that the withdrawal card cannot have a broader function, as urged by the Union.
In light of the lack of clear authority on the question, the reasonableness of the Union's interpretation, and the obligation to defer to that reasonable interpretation, it will be adopted here. Because his employer was no longer under contract with the Union, George was not employed "in the jurisdiction of the Local Union." His withdrawal card therefore was properly issued pursuant to Article XVIII, § 6(a) of the Constitution.
Plaintiff's additional arguments in connection with the Union's issuance of the withdrawal card are without merit. George fails to establish that he was entitled to a hearing before issuance of the withdrawal card. Hearings are unnecessary where, as here, a Union makes only a ministerial or mathematical decision. Galke v. Duffy, 645 F.2d 118, 120 (2d Cir. 1981). Plaintiff's challenge to the Joint Council proceeding is also unpersuasive. Plaintiff did not raise the issue of bias before the Council and therefore has waived the argument. In any event, plaintiff's claim of bias is utterly unsupported.
Finally, plaintiff has not established his entitlement to the discovery he requested during the internal Union appeals, nor has he shown that such material was relevant, that it could lead to relevant material or that it would have affected the outcome of the proceedings.
Accordingly, the accompanying Order dismisses plaintiff's withdrawal card claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
George's remaining claim is that the Union manipulated the rules of the referral hall to prevent George from regaining active Union membership status.
George's claim cannot withstand defendants' motion for summary judgment.
A union "may not apply arbitrary or invidious criteria in referring employees to jobs." International Union of Operating Eng'rs v. NLRB, 701 F.2d 504 (5th Cir. 1983). Plaintiff has failed to proffer material evidence in support of such a claim. The record reveals that George began seeking referrals on February 27, 1991. Feaster then determined, and confirmed, that George was not working at Ryder/Jacobs because of an injury. On March 11, 1991, Feaster wrote that it would be irresponsible and imprudent for the Union to refer George for work while he was on worker's compensation status. George did not submit evidence of his medical availability. Nevertheless, in late March the Union referred George for employment, and George worked pursuant to that referral for a number of days in March and April.
George fails to present any evidence, or even to allege, that the Union ever acted on Feaster's statement that George should not be referred because of a known medical problem. Moreover, a decision on the Union's part to refrain from referring an employee with a medical problem would not have been arbitrary or invidious. Indeed, a referral of an employee in the face of reasonable notice of that employee's disability could potentially raise the specter of a breach of the Union's obligations. Cf. Riley v. Tokola Offshore, Inc., 626 F. Supp. 616, 619-20 (C.D. Cal. 1985).
George also fails to show that the Union lacked credible evidence of George's medical disqualification from work, and George's failure to respond to discovery requests on the matter further undermines his position. Finally, George does not proffer any evidence showing a genuine issue as to any arbitrary or improper action taken by the Union in connection with use of a "preferred" list of employees.
Accordingly, the accompanying Order grants defendants' motion for summary judgment on the remaining counts.
Date: June 8, 1993
Louis F. Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
ORDER - June 8, 1993, Filed
For the reasons stated in the accompanying Memorandum, it is this 8th day of June, 1993, hereby
ORDERED: that defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED: that plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment is DENIED; and it is further
ORDERED: that plaintiff's claims are DISMISSED pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56.
Louis F. Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE