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Quibley v. Giblin

October 22, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reggie B. Walton United States District Court Judge


The plaintiffs*fn1 filed this action on March 29, 2007, against the defendants*fn2 alleging violations of §§101(a)(2) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("The Labor Act"), 29 U.S.C. §411(a)(2) (2006), and 101(a)(4) of the Labor Act, 29 U.S.C. §411(a)(4)(2006). Complaint ("Compl.") ¶¶ 41, 46. The plaintiff contends that the defendant International Union of Operating Engineers' ("Union") General Executive Board's "website password protection rule violates section 101(a)(2) of the [Labor Act], 29 U.S.C. §411(a)(2)."

Id. ¶ 41. In addition, the plaintiffs allege in their complaint that Article XVII, Section 4 of the Union Constitution "is void under section 101(b) of the [Labor Act], 29 U.S.C. §411(b)."*fn3 Id. ¶ 46.

Currently before this Court is the defendants' motion for summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings ("Defs.' Mot.") and the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment or in the alternative, for a preliminary injunction ("Pls.' Mot.").*fn4 After carefully reviewing the pleadings filed in this case, and the exhibits submitted with the parties' papers, the Court concludes for the reasons set forth below that it must grant the defendants' motion for summary judgment and the deny the plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment, or in the alternative, their motion for a permanent injunction.*fn5



The Union "is an international labor organization with approximately 396,000 members and with 138 chartered and autonomous local unions across the United States and Canada." Defs.' Mem., Exhibit ("Ex.") 1 (Declaration of Vincent J. Giblin ("Giblin Decl.")) ¶ 6. It "primarily represents Operating Engineers, who work as heavy equipment operators, mechanics, and surveyors in the construction industry, and Stationary Engineers, who work in operations and maintenance in building and industrial complexes, and in the service industries." Id. ¶ 8. The Union "also represents approximately 3,600 registered nurses and other medical personnel." Id. ¶ 8. The governing document for the Union is its Constitution. Id.,Attachment ("Attach.") 1 (Constitution of International Union of Operating Engineers ("Union Constitution") at 1). The principal officer of the Union is defendant Vincent J. Giblin, its General President. Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.) ¶ 1. Giblin has served as the General President since March 1, 2005, and before becoming the General President he was the General Secretary-Treasurer of the Union, the second highest ranking officer, from December 1, 2002 until he became the General President. Id. ¶¶ 1, 3.

The General President serves "as the chairman of the [Union's] General Executive Board." Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.) ¶ 2. "When in session, the Union is governed by the General Convention," which, according to Article III, Section 3 of the Union Constitution, "is composed of legally elected officers of the [Union], members of the [Union] General Executive Board and the Board of Trustees, and representative delegates from [Union's] local unions." Id. ¶ 9 &Attach. 1 (Union Constitution) at Art. III, § 3. "The General Convention meets every five years," and its most recent convention was scheduled for April 2008. Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.) ¶ 9. Between "[G]eneral [C]onventions, the [Union] is governed by the General Executive Board, which meets at least quarterly." Id. The Union Constitution sets forth the "laws, rules and procedures by which Local Unions [that are chartered by the [Union] shall conduct their affairs." Id., Attach. 1 (Union Constitution) at Art. XXIV.

Subject to other constraints, the Union Constitution establishes the requirements for candidates to run for local union offices and the procedure for how those elections will be conducted. Id. at subdivs. 1(a), 1(e). The Union Constitution mandates that local union elections "shall be held in the month of August" and that the "nominations shall be made at a regular meeting... no... earlier than the May meeting preceding the election." Id. at Article XXIV, Subdivision 1(e). Additionally, the Union Constitution includes an "outsider rule" that prohibits candidates for local union offices from accepting campaign contributions from persons other than members of the Union. Id.


"[I]n January of 2007, the [Union] adopted the Campaign Website Resolution ("Resolution")." Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.) ¶ 24 & Attach. 2 (Campaign Website Resolution). The Resolution in part provides:

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the General Executive Board, in order to assure the fullest expression of free speech by candidates in Local Union elections while protecting the Local Unions from adverse actions by employers, directs that, starting with Local Union elections to be held in 2007, Local Unions and their election committees shall require all candidates and their supporters who have set up or wish to set up campaign websites to include a password protection function.

Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.), Attach. 2 (Resolution). In a letter sent on May 11, 2007, to the Business Managers of all Union local union affiliates, General President Giblin reported that the General Executive Board had adopted a Campaign Website Resolution. Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.) at Attach. 5 (Letter from Giblin to Union Local Union Business Managers dated May 11, 2007) ("Giblin's May 11, 2007 Letter"). The letter informed the Business Managers that the guidelines and procedures that govern the Resolution require that "only nonmembers of the International Union must be excluded pursuant to the resolution's password protection provisions;" that the Union would retain "an independent outside information technology firm to be available to assist affected members in their compliance with the resolution, and provide for a waiver procedure in the event... [of] technological difficulties;" and that the guidelines and procedures would lay out "the usual procedure for obtaining a Decision and Opinion from the General President's office... to resolve questions from a member who is in doubt about whether his or her website is a'campaign' website subject to the resolution." Id.

General President Giblin's letter also provided that the Union would make assistance available at no cost to the affected members, Defs.' Mem., Ex. 1 (Giblin Decl.) ¶ 31(ii), and further noted that "[i]f the consulting firm [was] unable to resolve promptly any technological problems members might experience in establishing compliant campaign websites, the affected member [could] seek and obtain a waiver of the Resolution's requirements."*fn7 Id. ΒΆ 31(iii) & Attach. 5 (Giblin's May 11, 2007 Letter) at 2. The letter also advised that the General President's opinions regarding the application or scope of the Resolution would be available to all members of the union. Id. Finally, the General President relayed that a member who truthfully discloses the facts underlying a request for clarification and relies on the ...

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