United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. BOASBERG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Eugene Hudson, Jr. brought this action alleging that he was
improperly removed from his position as National
Secretary-Treasurer for Defendant American Federation of
Government Employees. Although this litigation has featured
some twists and turns - e.g., Hudson's
reinstatement via preliminary injunction and his subsequent
removal after the Order was vacated - AFGE now files a
straightforward Motion to Dismiss. The Court will largely
grant the Motion, aside from one count alleging retaliatory
termination in violation of Plaintiff's statutory
Court first sets out the conduct for which Hudson was removed
and then charts both the Union's procedures and the
history of the litigation.
juncture, the Court, as it must, treats the allegations in
the Complaint as true. AFGE is a national labor organization
with over 1000 affiliated local unions. Its elected national
officers include a National President, National
Secretary-Treasurer, and National Vice-President for Women
and Fair Practices. See ECF No. 1 (Complaint),
¶ 3. Hudson was elected National Secretary-Treasurer
(NST) for consecutive three-year terms in 2012 and 2015.
Id., ¶ 6. In August 2016, Plaintiff announced
that he would again run for national office at the next
Convention, to be held in August 2018. At the time, he did
not specify the position he sought, but he clarified in
December 2016 that he would run for President. Id.,
week after the 2016 American presidential election,
Plaintiff, using an AFGE computer and email, directed his
subordinate to send an email to “several hundred AFGE
officers and members.” Id., ¶¶ 9,
11. The recipients included both personal and
federal-government email addresses. Id., ¶ 11.
The three-and-a-half-page email did not go through any formal
review process before dissemination. It was entitled,
“AFGE, the Trump administration, and the attack on the
way, ” and it stated, in relevant part:
For many of us, the results of the November 8th election were
unexpected. There remains much to analyze about the
election[, ] . . . [b]ut one thing is certain, the new
administration and the Republican Congressional majority have
a bull's eye planted on the backs of federal workers and
the unions that represent them. The question is whether we
are ready for this assault. . . .
Is AFGE prepared for this? [AFGE] President Cox has spoken up
on this and has reminded us all of some of the efforts that
have been undertaken under the banner of “Too Big to
Fail.” Such efforts are important to support, though I
will suggest that we need to completely rethink the
battlefield terrain on which we have been operating. . . .
The Trump administration, and their allies in Congress, will
claim that they have a “mandate” to reconstruct
the federal government and workforce. Our response should be
“mandate my…” There is no mandate. Trump
did not even get the majority of the popular vote!
Id., Exh. 1 (November 15 Email) at 1-2. The email
then lists four items for consideration: 1) “Recognize
that we must fight; we have no choice”; 2)
“Rethink the way that we operate as an
organization”; 3) “We need to build our support
within the larger community”; and 4) “[T]his is a
time for AFGE to join with other unions operating in the
federal sector in coordinated responses to the
attacks.” Id. at 2-3. According to Hudson, the
“email was not part of [his] campaign for AFGE
office” but rather “valid commentary on public
affairs involving AFGE as an entity and AFGE's
members.” Compl., ¶ 10.
of its intended purpose, the email rankled several Union
officials, including AFGE's General Counsel David Borer.
Borer sent a memorandum to Union President David Cox on
November 22 regarding potential legal implications of the
email. See Compl., Exh. 2. The memorandum noted
possible liability under the Hatch Act, which restricts the
political activity of certain federal employees. Id.
at 1. Borer also suggested that Hudson may have
misappropriated Union resources by using its assets
“(the email list, staff time, AFGE email, and AFGE
equipment), ” id. at 6, and also potentially
exposed it to liability because AFGE annually certifies to
its insurance carrier that its General Counsel's Office
reviews all publications.
one month later, National Vice-President Keith Hill filed an
internal charge against Hudson, including, among other
allegations, an accusation that Plaintiff's dispatch of
the November 15 email was “a supreme case of multiple
violations.” Compl., Exh. 3 at 1. Hill believed that,
by assigning an AFGE employee the task of sending the email,
Hudson had violated the “ethical conduct requirements
for all NEC members” and “exposed AFGE to certain
civil and/or administrative liability.” Id. at
2. “In addition, ” Hill continued, “the use
of AFGE's e-mail directories for personal use is a
violation of the policies on official use of AFGE
resources.” Id. He did not, however, cite to
any portions of the AFGE Constitution or other Union
guidelines that prohibit such activity. The charge also
alleged that Hudson had violated the ...