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Frye v. United Steelworkers of America

decided: July 11, 1985.

BERNARD FRYE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, HARRY MAYFIELD, ROBERT JOHNS, JOSEPH COYLE, WILLIAM MOLLER, AND LOCAL UNION 3489, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. No. 79-C-58 -- Gene E. Brooks, Judge.

Eschbach and Flaum, Circuit Judges, and Doyle, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Flaum

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff Bernard Frye brought suit under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) against the International Union of the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) and Local Union 3489, as well as officials of both bodies, alleging that discipline imposed on him for incidents that occurred while Frye was president of the local union had been imposed in violation of sections 101(a)(2), 101(a)(5), and 609 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 411(a)(2), 411(a)(5), & 529 (1982). The district court granted summary judgment for the defendants. For the reasons set out below, we affirm.

I.

Frye was elected to a three-year term as president of Local 3489, USWA, in 1973.*fn1 During 1975, internal union charges were filed against Frye and others by James Stivertson and Morey Swanders, members of the Local.*fn2 Early in 1976, the Local's Trial Committee heard the charges separately and ruled, in both cases, that Frye was not guilty. The Local's membership accepted the Trial Committee's report; Stivertson and Swanders then appealed to the International's Executive Board. Several months later, in April 1976, Frye lost a bid for reelection as president of the Local. For reasons not disclosed in the record, the International put Local 3489 into an administratorship from July to December 1976. During this administratorship, another member of the Local, Robert Mix, who was the recording secretary during Frye's presidency, filed certain "requests" with the International; these documents contained additional charges against Frye.*fn3

Under procedures established by the International, the Stivertson and Swanders appeals were delegated to the Appeal Panel, a subcommittee of the Executive Board that designated a Commission to investigate the appeals. When the International received the Mix charges, those charges were referred to the same Commission. After some delay caused by postponed hearing dates and a change in the membership of the Commission, hearings were held on November 16, 1976 (Swanders appeal) and December 15, 1976 (Stiverston appeal and Mix charges); neither of these proceedings was transcribed into a written record.

The Commission issued separate opinions on each of the matters in April 1977. In these opinions, the Commission recommended that Frye be found guilty on both the Stivertson and Swanders complaints and on two of the Mix charges. As punishment, the Commission recommended that Frye be suspended from holding local union office for three years; other defendants were to be reprimanded. The Commission noted that the recommended discipline was based only on the Stivertson and Swanders charges. The Appeal Panel, acting for the Executive Board, adopted these recommendations and held, in addition, that the two Mix charges could also provide grounds for Frye's discipline; the penalty, however, was not changed. Frye appealed the Board's decision to the International Convention, and the Convention affirmed the decision on September 22, 1978.

Immediately after the Commission issued its report, Frye filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The charge filed with the NLRB alleged that the International had violated section 8(b)(1)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(1)(A) (1982), by imposing the discipline described above. The General Counsel issued a complaint, and there was a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ dismissed the complaint, finding that there was "more than ample evidence" to support the findings and recommendations of the Commission and that the Commission had had "reasonable" grounds for imposing the penalty. The ALJ's decision was then affirmed by the NLRB, United Steelworkers of America (Frye), 239 N.L.R.B. 374 (1978). Frye did not appeal the NLRB decision.

In the civil action now on appeal to this court, both parties filed motions for summary judgment in the district court. As set out by the district judge, the three issues raised were the following:

1. Whether Frye was disciplined for exercising rights of free speech and assembly, in violation of sections 101(a)(2) and 609 of the LMRDA.

2. Whether Frye was disciplined without being served with written specific charges, in violation of section 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA.

3. Whether Frye was disciplined without being afforded a full and fair hearing, in violation of section 101(a)(5) of the LMRDA.

Summary judgment was granted for the defendants on all issues. On appeal, Frye challenges all aspects of ...


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