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CROSS v. UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA

January 29, 1973

BERT CROSS ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Poos, District Judge.

OPINION AND ORDER

This is a class action by certain members of the United Mine Workers of America (hereinafter UMW), brought under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, Section 304, 29 U.S.C.A., Section 464 (hereinafter LMRDA) seeking the dissolution of an alleged trusteeship imposed by the UMW on District 12 of the UMW.

Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint for many and diverse reasons. Plaintiffs have moved for summary judgment.

I.

Plaintiffs allege that District 12 is a subordinate labor organization within the meaning of Section 3(i) and 3(j) of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 402(i) and 402(j) and that District 12 has been maintained in trusteeship within the meaning of Section 3(h) of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 402(h) since September 14, 1959, the effective date of LMRDA, and for many years prior to that time. Plaintiffs also allege that the trusteeship over District 12 is not necessary for any allowable purpose under Section 302 of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 462 and must be presumed invalid under Section 304(c) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 464(c) since it has been in existence for more than the 18 months. Section 304 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 464 authorizes a member of a labor organization affected by a violation of Title III to sue for such relief as may be appropriate.

Defendants contend that the Complaint should be dismissed because the Plaintiffs have not alleged an exhaustion of administrative remedies as provided by the Act. In analyzing Title III of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 464, the Court finds no requirement that prior to the commencement of a cause of action plaintiff must exhaust the administrative remedies of the Act. The Act establishes alternative avenues of relief to a union member who desires to abolish a Trusteeship, i.e., through the Secretary of Labor who then files suit, 29 U.S.C. § 464, or by filing a private action, 29 U.S.C. § 464. One avenue envisions the commencement of administrative proceedings, while the other does not. Parks v. IBEW, 314 F.2d 886, (CA4, 1963), cert. denied, 372 U.S. 976, 83 S.Ct. 1111, 10 L.Ed.2d 142; Carpenters v. Brown, 343 F.2d 872 (CA10, 1965); Hotel and Restaurant Employees v. Del Valle, 328 F.2d 885 (CA1, 1964), cert. denied, 379 U.S. 879, 85 S.Ct. 146, 13 L.Ed.2d 86; Schonfeld v. Raftery, 381 F.2d 446 (CA2, 1967). Defendants also allege that since Plaintiffs have not exhausted intra-union remedies, the complaint must be dismissed. Clearly this is not a ground for dismissal for two reasons: (1) exhaustion of intra-union remedies is not a prerequisite to initiation of a private suit to abolish a union trusteeship under 29 U.S.C. § 464; and (2) there is no adequate intra-union remedy in this case. See Lavender v. UMWA, 285 F. Supp. 869, 873 (D.C.), wherein the Court stated:

  "The obscurity surrounding the imposition of the
  trusteeship and the remoteness of the date of its
  creation produce uncertainties with respect to the
  efficacy of the internal union remedies."
  Defendants' argument that the Complaint should be dismissed because plaintiffs have not alleged that the autonomy of District 12 has been suspended is without merit and is rejected.

Likewise, defendants' argument that this cause of action should be dismissed because this is not a proper class action under 29 U.S.C. § 464, and because the requirements of Rule 23 and 23.2 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have not been complied with is also not considered meritorious. Accordingly, defendants' Motion to Dismiss this cause of action must be denied.

II.

The question now arises as to whether or not the plaintiffs are entitled to summary judgment. Rule 56 of The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in pertinent part as follows:

  ". . . The judgment sought shall be rendered
  forthwith if 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 judgment as a matter of
  law."

In reviewing the pleadings and deposition on file, in addition to the affidavits, the Court finds no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that this cause of action is in the ...


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