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ASHLEY MEADOWS FARM v. AMERICAN HORSE SHOWS

United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D


May 9, 1985

GEORGE LOCKETT AND LEONARD PIERCE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN'S ASSOCIATION, LOCAL 19 AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT.

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

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted.

Plaintiffs essentially complain that their removal from union offices and disqualification from eligibility to run for union office for two years constitutes improper disciplinary action under 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(5).*fn1 It is clear, however, that section 411 "refers only to union members — not officers — and that it protects members of a labor organization qua members but has no application to officers of the union qua officers." Lux v. Blackman, 546 F.2d 713, 716 (7th Cir. 1976); see also Airline Stewards and Stewardesses Ass'n v. Transport Workers Union, 334 F.2d 805 (7th Cir. 1964), cert. denied, 379 U.S. 972, 85 S.Ct. 648, 13 L.Ed.2d 563 (1965). The Supreme Court recently noted that Congress specifically intended not to protect a member's status as a union employee or officer. In Finnegan v. Leu, 456 U.S. 431, 102 S.Ct. 1867, 72 L.Ed.2d 239 (1982), the Court discussed the legislative history of section 411:

  The Conference Report accompanying S. 1555 as
  finally enacted, H.R.Rep. 1147, 86th Cong., 1st
  Sess. 31 (1959), I Leg. Hist. 935, explains that
  this "prohibition on suspension without observing
  certain safeguards applies only to suspension of
  membership in the union; it does not refer to
  suspension of a member's status as an officer of
  the union" (emphasis added).

Id., 456 U.S. at 438, 102 S.Ct. at 1871. Thus, members of a union may be removed summarily from union office. Lux, 546 F.2d at 716.*fn2

Plaintiffs concede that Pierce, who was Vice President of Local 19, was an officer. However, they argue that Lockett was not a union officer because he served as steward and trustee of the welfare and pension funds, two positions not specifically named in Article VII, Section 1 of Local 19's by-laws.*fn3 This argument is unconvincing. The enumeration of officers in the by-laws is obviously not intended to be all-inclusive, as Article VII, Section 1 goes on to provide that "[t]he executive board, with the consent of the membership, shall appoint or hire additional employees or officers for such periods as may be deemed advisable." We therefore find that Lockett was an officer in the union, at least insofar as status as an officer is distinguished from status as a union member for purposes of section 411. See Cehaich v. International Union, U.A.W., 710 F.2d 234 (6th Cir. 1983) (benefits representative was a union officer without a § 411 cause of action for summary dismissal).

Plaintiffs likewise have no claim under section 411 arising from their two year disqualification from running for union offices. Ineligibility from running for or holding office — like removal from an office already held — does nothing to suspend membership in the union, which is the sole object of section 411's protection. Finnegan, 456 U.S. at 438, 102 S.Ct. at 1871. Thus, plaintiffs' disqualification is not a disciplinary action governed by section 411.*fn4

Accordingly, defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. It is so ordered.


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