United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG United States District Judge.
September 2, 2016, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
separate Order granting Defendant Amalgamated Transit
Union's Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. See ECF Nos. 74-75. Plaintiffs Janice
Murray and Alnett (Tim) Queen now move under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 59(e) to alter or amend that judgment. They
contend that, in part because of new evidence, the Court
erred in its prior ruling.
the Court concludes that the evidence is neither new nor
persuasive, it does agree that one of Plaintiffs'
arguments warrants a revisiting of part of the Court's
decision. It thus will grant the Motion as to Plaintiff Queen
only, reinstating what remains of his suit.
present Motion challenges the Court's Opinion granting
the ATU's Motion to Dismiss, the Court presumes the
reader is familiar with that decision and the background
information contained therein. See Murray v. Amalgamated
Transit Union (Murray IV), 2016 WL 4594222
(D.D.C. Sept. 2, 2016). A more expansive recounting of the
factual background and procedural history can be found in the
Court's first and second summary-judgment Opinions.
See Murray v. Amalgamated Transit Union (Murray
III), 2016 WL 1664775 (D.D.C. Apr. 26, 2016); Murray
v. Amalgamated Transit Union (Murray I), 2014
WL 11281392 (D.D.C. Dec. 19, 2014).
short, this lawsuit emerged because of a controversial union
election. Plaintiffs Murray and Queen sought to become
officers of Local 1300, a local affiliate of Defendant
Amalgamated Transit Union. Murray I, 2014 WL
11281392, at *1. The ATU represents nearly 200, 000
individuals employed in the public and private sectors of the
transportation industry, and Local 1300 represents
public-sector workers employed by the Maryland Transit
Administration. Id. In June 2013, Murray and Queen
ran for President and Vice President, respectively, and won.
Id. at *3. One month later, the runner-up for
President, David McClure, challenged the election, arguing
that Plaintiffs had been ineligible to run for office because
they were not members in good standing, having failed to
reimburse the union for certain payments. Id.
September 2013, while McClure's challenge was pending,
Murray traveled to the ATU Convention, intending to
participate as a delegate. See ECF No. 69-2
(Affidavit of Janice Murray, July 6, 2016), ¶¶ 15,
19. The ATU refused to permit Murray and other Local 1300
officers in attendance to sit as delegates because the
ballots Local 1300 had used to elect them did not feature the
words “and Convention Delegate” or “and
Alternate Delegate” next to the offices being voted
upon. Id., ¶¶ 13-29.
months later, in February 2014, the ATU's then-President
made a decision regarding McClure's challenge, concluding
that Plaintiffs had not been in good standing at the time of
the June 2013 election and thus invalidating the election
results, stripping Plaintiffs of their offices and causing a
re-run election that McClure won. Murray III, 2016
WL 1664775, at *4.
and Queen responded by filing suit in this Court in March
2014, alleging that the ATU had violated Title I of the Labor
Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), 29
U.S.C. § 411(a)(5), and breached its contractual duties
under the ATU Constitution. See ECF No. 23 (Amended
Complaint), ¶¶ 34-42. More than two years later,
after a motion for a temporary restraining order, a motion
for a preliminary injunction, two periods of discovery, two
summary-judgment motions, and one reconsideration motion, the
Court independently identified potential jurisdictional
defects in the suit and ordered the parties to consider
whether section 403 of Title IV of the LMRDA stripped the
Court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the case.
See ECF No. 64 (Order of May 2, 2016).
addressing the jurisdictional question, the Court explained
the relationship between Title I and Title IV of the LMRDA.
See Murray IV, 2016 WL 4594222, at *3-5. To briefly
recap, Title I is “designed to guarantee every union
member equal rights to vote and otherwise participate in
union decisions, freedom from unreasonable restrictions on
speech and assembly, and protection from improper
discipline.” Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano
Moving v. Crowley, 467 U.S. 526, 536-37 (1984). Among
other things, it prohibits “labor
organization[s]” from “fin[ing], suspend[ing],
expel[ling], or otherwise disciplin[ing]” its members,
“except for nonpayment of dues, ” absent notice
and a hearing. See 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5). Title
IV protects similar rights: it “regulates the conduct
of elections for union officers, ” Crowley,
467 U.S. at 539, and gives “every member in good
standing” the right to “be eligible to be a
candidate and to hold office (subject to . . . reasonable
qualifications uniformly imposed) . . . without being subject
to penalty, discipline, or improper interference or reprisal
of any kind by such organization or any member
thereof.” 29 U.S.C. § 481(e).
they concern similar rights, Title I and Title IV have
distinct enforcement mechanisms. Title I grants to individual
members a federal cause of action that may be brought in
federal court. See id. § 412. Title IV, by
contrast, requires a union member to file a complaint with
the Secretary of Labor, who then may sue the union in federal
court if he or she determines such intervention is warranted.
See id. § 482(a)-(b). Title IV also contains
“an exclusivity provision, ” which explains when
a Title IV remedy will preempt a plaintiff's ability to
seek relief under other laws, including Title I. See
Crowley, 467 U.S. at 540; 29 U.S.C. § 483. As
relevant here, because Title IV claims can only be brought by
the Secretary, Title IV's exclusivity provision divests
federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate
claims brought by individual union members after a completed
union election that, in substance, seek to challenge the
already-conducted election itself. See Crowley, 467
U.S. at 541 & n.16, 544.
one further wrinkle: the LMRDA generally does not apply to
unions whose membership consists entirely of public-sector
employees. See 29 U.S.C. § 402(e), (i). But
when a non-covered local union (like Local 1300) has a
mixed-union parent (like the ATU) - i.e., a parent
body comprised of private- and public-sector locals - Title I
“protect[s] members of such locals in their dealings
with [the] parent union.” Murray I, 2014 WL
11281392, at *6 (citing Wildberger v. Am. Fed'n of
Gov't Employees, AFL-CIO, 86 F.3d 1188, 1192-93
(D.C. Cir. 1996)). And when a non-covered local union
“participate[s] in the election of officers of a
national or international labor organization . . . through
delegates to the convention” of the mixed-union parent
body, Title IV applies “to the election of such
delegates.” 29 C.F.R. § 452.124; see also
id. § 451.3(a)(4); id. § 452.12.
early September 2016, after considering the parties'
briefing on the jurisdictional issue, the Court concluded
that because Plaintiffs' election challenge properly fell
under Title IV, it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction and
granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. See Murray
IV, 2016 WL 4594222, at *14. A few weeks later,
Plaintiffs timely filed this Motion to Alter or Amend
Judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).
The ATU opposed the Motion, arguing that reconsideration was
not warranted. Briefing is now complete.