The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge
Plaintiffs, Carl E. Bishop and Oscar Ingram, members of Atlanta Local
387 ("Local"), bring suit against the International Association of
Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers
("International"), which controls the Local under a trusteeship.
Plaintiffs allege that certain provisions of the International's
constitution violate their rights to free speech and to sue under Title I
of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA"),
29 U.S.C. § 411, et seq. They also allege that
the International's disciplinary procedures violate their right to due
process under Title I of the LMRDA.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary
Judgment. Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, and the
entire record herein, and for the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs'
Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.
Plaintiffs, Carl Bishop and Oscar Ingram, are members of Atlanta Local
387, which the International controls under a trusteeship. Plaintiff
Ingram was a Trustee of the Local.
In the Spring of 2002, Plaintiffs became concerned that the Local's
Business Manager, Hugh Dean Dryden, Jr., had misused Local funds,
specifically, the Local's credit card to purchase airline tickets for
personal travel, and the Local's cell phone for personal purposes.
Seeking "counsel and assistance," Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J., at 2,
Plaintiffs contacted Al Smith, a former Local member who, after accusing
Local officials of corruption and hiring hall abuse, had been expelled in
1997 based on charges that he had "fabricated lies" and "slandered" Local
officers. Pls.' Statement of Mat. Facts, ¶ 8. See Pls.'
Mot. for Summ. J. at 3. Plaintiff Bishop also contacted the U.S.
Department of Labor and the National Legal & Policy Center "in an
effort to learn what legal rights he might have to gain access to the
Local's financial records." Pls.' Mot. for Summ. J., at 3.
In August 2002, disciplinary charges were filed against both Plaintiff
Bishop and Ingram. Plaintiff Bishop was charged with
"slandering a brother member" in violation of Article XIX, Section
10 of the International's constitution and "violating his oath" under
Article XXVI, Section 18. See Pls.' Statement of Mat. Facts, 1
3. Plaintiff Ingram was charged with revealing the business or
proceedings of the Local or actions of its members to outsiders, in
violation of Article XXVI, Section 18. See id., ¶
In September 2002, Plaintiffs were tried separately. Business Manager
Dryden served as the prosecutor in both disciplinary proceedings. Bobby
Winkler, a member of the Local's Executive Board which heard the charges
against Plaintiff Bishop, had previously filed disciplinary charges
against Bishop accusing Bishop of costing the Local money defending
against a lawsuit by the Department of Labor. See
id., ¶ 11. These charges were dismissed at the outset of
Bishop's hearing. Id. Eight of the twelve jurors who heard the
charges against Plaintiff Ingram had previously signed a petition
circulated by Local officials demanding Ingram's removal as a Trustee of
the Local. See id., ¶ 10. Both Plaintiffs were
found guilty and ordered to pay fines and to apologize. Plaintiffs
appealed their convictions to the International's General Executive Board
which modified the penalties but upheld the guilty verdicts.
On February 25, 2003, Plaintiffs filed the instant action. By letter
dated April 10, 2003, the International informed Plaintiffs that, "on
further review," the General Executive Board had decided
"to reverse the imposition of fine and request for apology in your
case[s] so that no discipline is imposed and to dismiss the charges
against you." Pls.' Statement of Mat. Facts, at ¶ 14. The
International also noted that "[p]ast actions of the Local Union in the
conduct of its trial [s] were taken pursuant to advice given by this
Plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring unlawful the following provisions
of the International's constitution: (1) paragraphs 4, 6, and 7 of
Article XIX, Section 10; (2) the prohibition on discussing union matters
with outsiders in Article XXVI, Section 18; and (3) the third and fourth
sentences of Article XIX, Section 4. Plaintiffs also seek to enjoin the
International from applying any of the challenged provisions to
discipline union members in any manner, and to require removal of the
challenged language from all future printings of its constitution. In
addition, Plaintiffs request that the International be ordered to publish
a notice of the Court's decision in its newsletter "The Ironworkers."
Finally, Plaintiffs seek a judgment declaring that the International's
disciplinary procedures violate their right to due process under §
101(a)(5) of the LMRDA.
Summary judgment should be granted when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with any
affidavits or declarations, show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed.R.Civ.P.
56. Material facts are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit
under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the
initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material
fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986).
In determining whether the moving party has met this burden, "the court
must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, and
it may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence."
Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150
(2000); see Washington Post Co. v. U.S. Dep't of Health
and Human Servs., 865 F.2d 320, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1989). Once the
moving party makes its initial showing, however, the nonmoving party's
opposition must consist of more than mere unsupported allegations or
denials and must demonstrate "specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial." Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324;
McKinney, 765 F.2d 1135. Accordingly, the non-moving party is
"required to provide evidence that would permit a reasonable
[fact-finder] to find" in its favor. Laningham v. U.S. Navy,
813 F.2d 1236, 1242 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
Plaintiffs challenge as unlawful the following underlined language in
the International's constitution:
Article XIX, Section 10 ("Charges and Trials"):
Charges may be preferred against any . . .
member of the Association for commission of any
one or more of the following offenses:
(4) Defrauding, slandering or otherwise
wronging a member of the Association.
(6) Inciting or attempting to incite
dissatisfaction or dissension among any of the
members of Local Unions of the Association.
(7) Publishing or circulating among the
membership false reports or
Pls.' Statement of Mat. Facts, at ¶ 5.
Article XXVI, Section 18 ("Obligation of Members"):
I hereby solemnly and sincerely pledge my honor
that I will not reveal any private business
or proceedings of this Local Union or of the
International Association, or any individual
actions of its members. . . .
Id. at ¶ 6.
Article XIX, Section 4:
No suit or other action at law or equity shall be
brought in any court . . . until and unless all
rights, remedies and reasonable provisions for
hearing, trial and appeal within the International
Association shall have been properly followed and
exhausted. . . . This provision shall require
resort to internal remedies for a period not
exceeding four (4) months. Violation of this
Section shall be sufficient cause for expulsion
from membership in this International Association
and its Local Unions. In addition, any officer,
member or Local Union violating this provision
shall be subject to a fine equal to the full
amount of the costs ...