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LABORERS' D. COUNCIL OF WASHINGTON, D.C. v. LABORERS' INT'L UN.

March 2, 2004.

LABORERS' DISTRICT COUNCIL OF WASHINGTON, D.C. AND VICINITY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
LABORERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES ROBERTSON, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Plaintiffs in this case are Laborers' District Council of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity ("WDC"), Building Construction Laborers' Local Union No. 74 ("Local 74"), Road, Highway and Heavy Construction Laborers Union No. 456 ("Local 456"), and seven officers of WDC who are also members of Locals 74 or 456. They complain that the decision of the defendant, Laborers' International Union of North America ("LIUNA"), to merge the WDC with the Laborers' District Council of Baltimore ("BDC") and to revoke the charters of Locals 74 and 456(1) was in bad faith; (2) violated union members' freedom of speech and association; (3) was an unlawful imposition of discipline; and (4) constituted an unlawful trusteeship. On May 9, 2003, after hearing plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction, I declined to grant affirmative relief but ordered the defendant to maintain the status quo pending trial or other disposition on the merits. Page 2 Now before the Court is defendant's motion for summary judgment, which, for the reasons stated below, must be granted.

Background

  LIUNA is an international labor organization that has local union and district council affiliates throughout the United States and Canada. LIUNA's constitution provides for two types of affiliated subordinate organizations: (1) local unions, which are primarily responsible for enforcing collective bargaining agreements, see Unif. Local Union Constitution of the LIUNA, art. 2, § 2; and (2) district councils, which are primarily responsible for negotiating, bargaining for, and entering into collective bargaining agreements on behalf of affiliated local unions, see Unif. Dist. Council Constitution of the LIUNA, art. 2, § 2.

  At LIUNA's 2001 international convention, General President Terrence O'Sullivan proposed, and the delegates adopted, a resolution calling for each local union to increase its market share in every sector in which it organizes by twenty percent within five years. Following the resolution's adoption, LIUNA developed a reorganization plan, which proposed to merge WDC and BDC (to form the Baltimore/Washington Laborers' District Council), and to revoke the charters of Locals 74 and 456 (and merge the locals, to form a newly-created, provisional local union, Local 657). Page 3

  On January 15, 2003, O'Sullivan issued a "Notice of Hearing" to Locals 74 and 456, WDC and BDC, inviting all members and officers to attend a hearing before a panel of LIUNA's General Executive Board ("GEB") to consider the proposed reorganization that would affect those entities:
[A] Hearing will be held before a Hearings Panel of the LIUNA General Executive Board to consider a Reorganization Proposal submitted by Vice President and Regional Manager Dennis L. Martire. The Proposal includes two aspects:
1. To merge the Laborers' District Council of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity into the Baltimore, Maryland Laborers' District Council, to be renamed the Baltimore/Washington Laborers' District Council; and
2. To merge Local Unions 74 and 456 into a new Local Union that will include the jurisdictions of both Local Unions.
  The purpose of the proposed reorganization is to provide the most efficient and productive structure possible to increase our share of the work in this single metropolitan area. It is anticipated that the reorganization will result inbetter services, more jobs for our members, and greater resources for increasing our market share.*fn1 Page 4

  Letter from O'Sullivan, to Locals 74 and 456, WDC and BDC, dated January 15, 2003, at 1.

  The hearing was held before a GEB panel on January 28, 2003. Testimony was taken in support of and against the proposed merger. The panel held the record open for submissions until February 7, 2003. By letter dated April 29, 2003, the plaintiffs were provided with a copy of the hearing panel's report, which recommended that the WDC be merged with the BDC, and that the charters of Locals 74 and 456 be revoked and the locals merged into a new provisional local union. The letter also informed the plaintiffs that the entire 15-member GEB had voted on April 12, 2003, to adopt the findings and recommendations of the panel. The hearing panel's report included these conclusions:
• "that the cities of Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. function as a single metropolitan area . . .[and m]any signatory building and heavy highway contractors are interchangeable in either city, from larger outfits . . . to smaller masonry contractors";
  • "the International Union and the Mid-Atlantic Region['s] devot[ion of] substantial resources to assist the D.C. District Council and its Local Unions to increase organizing efforts [have met] with disappointing results"; Page 5
 
• "the Washington, D.C. area's market share continues to lag substantially behind that of other major urban areas in the Mid-Atlantic Region [and, w]hile exact market share figures are in dispute,. . . the Laborers' experience in the D.C. area has been a long and ongoing struggle merely to stay afloat with little forward movement. Even assuming that the percentage may have improved somewhat in recent months,. . . overall share in this area remains marginal at best";
• "the D.C. District Council has been unable effectively to fulfill its Constitutional duties with respect to collective bargaining, policing its jurisdiction, and enforcing its hiring hall procedures[,] fail[ing] to renegotiate agreements with contractors, resulting in laborers working under expired and outdated agreements, and, in some cases, in contractors making fringe benefit contributions in contravention of federal labor law";
• "[t]he territorial jurisdictions of the two Local Unions are identical[, although they differ] with respect to the work jurisdictions granted to them by their respective charters [and] in recent years . . . many members of Local Union 456 have been employed on Local Union 74 jobs";
• "[c]onsolidation of the [WBC and BBC] will necessarily eliminate the substantial and duplicate costs needed to support two separate entities . . .[and, i]n addition to the operational efficiencies and economies which would result from the merger, it is estimated that a significant one-time transfer of assets of over $800,000 would result from closure of the [WBC office; t]hese funds could then be more productively directed to support organizing, training and other initiatives which must be implemented if an increase in market share is to be achieved";
  • "the proposed merger of Local Unions 74 and 456 . . . would free up more than one-half million dollars in fixed assets and provide approximately Page 6 $200,000 in increased funds available each year for use in organizing, policing existing contracts, servicing our members, and increasing LIUNA's market share in a more efficient and effective Local Union";
 
• "[t]he Reorganization Plan . . . is also likely to result in greater administrative efficiency at both the District Council and Local Union level [with] members in the area [being] better served by a single, focused decision-making authority in a single location than by two separate authorities with competing and/or overlapping interests in separate locations."
  Findings and Recommendations of the Hearings Panel, at 2-4. The day after this letter was sent, April 30, 2003, plaintiffs sued in this court for a preliminary and permanent injunction to block the merger of the district councils and revocation of the locals' charters.

  Analysis

  Summary judgment will be granted when "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's favor, and accept the uncontroverted evidence of the nonmoving party as true. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). However, in proffering evidence to defeat a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party cannot simply Page 7 rely on conclusory statements or allegations. See Greene v. Dalton, 164 F.3d 671, 675 (D.C. Cir. 1999). Rather, the nonmoving party must come forward with specific facts that, when viewed in the context of the record as a whole, could reasonably lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986).

 1. Bad Faith

  It is well-established that "[a]n interpretation of a union constitution rendered by officials of a labor organization is entitled to considerable deference by a reviewing court and should not be overruled unless the court finds that the interpretation was unreasonable or made in bad faith." Monzillo v. Biller, 735 F.2d 1456, 1458 (D.C. Cir. 1984); see also, e.g., Local No. 48, United Bhd. of Carpenters and Joiners of Am. v. United Bhd. of Carpenters and Joiners of Am., 920 F.2d 1047, 1051 (1st Cir. 1990). ...


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