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Local 165 v. Bradley

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 7, 1986.

LOCAL 165, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, AFL-CIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

RONALD C. BRADLEY ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. John J. O'Toole, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE SCARIANO DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied November 12, 1986.

Defendants, Ronald C. Bradley and Andrew J. Stankoskey, two union members, appeal from the circuit court's grant of summary judgment and award of $1,357 against each of them in a contract action filed by their union because they worked during a strike. We affirm.

On June 4, 1984, Local 165, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), (hereinafter referred to as plaintiff) filed a small claims suit against Bradley. The complaint alleged that on August 7, 1983, the union went on an economic strike against Illinois Bell Telephone Company. Pickets were established at Bell until August 23, 1983. Following settlement of the strike, plaintiff asked defendant Bradley to appear at a hearing before its trial board to answer allegations that he had crossed the picket line during the strike. The trial board found Bradley guilty and assessed $1,357 against him and barred him from membership meetings for five years.

On September 4, 1983, plaintiff filed a small claims suit in the circuit court against Stankoskey. The complaint alleged that plaintiff mailed to defendant Stankoskey a copy of the charges against him for crossing the picket line and a notice of time and date of a hearing. The trial board found Stankoskey guilty of crossing a picket line and assessed a fine of $1,357 against him and barred him from membership meetings for five years.

Plaintiff filed motions for summary judgment against both defendants, asserting that it had demanded the assessment but that defendants had refused to pay. The motion against Bradley indicated that he received written notice on October 3, 1983, but that he did not attend the October 10 hearing. Two union members, John F. Cheeseman and Dewey Viars, testified that they observed Bradley crossing the picket line and working throughout the strike. The trial board found Bradley guilty and mailed a notice of the decision and his appeal rights to Bradley's last known address on October 28, 1983, but he did not appeal the decision within the union. Similarly, the summary judgment motion against Stankoskey asserted that he received notice on October 7, 1983, and that the trial board held a hearing 10 days later, on October 17, 1983. Stankoskey did not appear at the hearing. Written charges by union member James Leamy, that defendant crossed the picket line and worked throughout the strike, were read into the record. Leamy testified that he had nothing to add to the written charges. The trial board found Stankoskey guilty of the charges and mailed a copy of the decision and notice of appeal rights to Stankoskey's last known address, but he did not appeal the decision of the trial board. Attached to both motions for summary judgment were the notices of charges against defendants, the relevant portions of the IBEW constitution, notices of the trial board's decision and appeal rights, and an affidavit by Hazel Mann, who sat on the trial board, that she knew from personal knowledge that the facts set forth in the motions for summary judgment were true.

In opposition to summary judgment, defendants filed identical affidavits stating that they never received copies and were never informed of the contents of the IBEW constitution or the bylaws for Local 165. Defendants asserted that they were never told that the IBEW constitution contained disciplinary provisions which were enforceable in State court. They contended that they had remained members of the union during the strike because they were never informed of their right to resign from it without forfeiting their jobs, and stated:

"That in July of 1983, the Union conducted a Strike Authorization Vote. The membership including affiant, was advised by the Union that the Strike vote was for the limited purpose of letting the Company know that the members stood behind their bargaining committee. The membership, including affiant, was told by the Union that a second vote would be taken before a Strike was called and that under the I.B.E.W. Rules any final offer made by the Company would be sent to the members for a vote. No second vote was ever taken."

Attached to defendants' memoranda in opposition to summary judgment were what appear to be reports of the trial board proceedings against the two defendants, and a photocopy of the front page of the Local 165 Communicator, plaintiff's official newsletter. Conspicuously at the top of the front page, under the heading "Strike Authorization Vote," the newsletter says:

"Strike authorization is our most important bargaining tool. It is an invaluable part of the negotiating process, no matter what the company has or has not offered. It lets the company know that we stand behind our bargaining committees."

Two paragraphs later, in boldface, it states:

"Remember: A Strike Authorization does not mean we are going out on strike. Under our IBEW rules, the final offer made by the company must be sent out for a vote.

IT IS IMPORTANT THAT WE ALL PARTICIPATE."

In reply to defendant's memorandum and documents, plaintiff filed an affidavit by John F. Cheeseman, who had been a member of the Local 165 executive board since August 1982. Cheeseman stated that Local 165 was part of the nationwide collective bargaining that IBEW conducted with AT&T in the summer of 1983, and that it was bound by the conduct of the two larger entities. Cheeseman added that copies of the IBEW constitution and the bylaws of Local 165 were available on request at the business office of Local 165 and at each jobsite.

Plaintiff also filed a certified copy of an affidavit by Arthur Perry, who was director of the telephone department of the IBEW in August, 1983 and chief negotiator for the IBEW's committee of international and local union representatives, that negotiated the collective-bargaining agreements between AT&T and its subsidiary companies and various locals, including that between Illinois Bell and Local 165. Perry stated that the members of Local 165 had authorized a strike if the terms of a new collective-bargaining agreement were not reached by August 6, 1983, the end of the then-existing agreement. He added that the IBEW constitution requires that the international president give his approval before members engage in a strike. Perry then stated:

"4. Following the conclusion of negotiations on Friday, August 5, 1983, I spoke with Anthony J. Salamone, Administrative Assistant to International President Charles H. Pillard * * *. Mr. Salamone advised me that, in accordance with the provisions of the International Constitution, and consistent with IBEW policies and procedures, President Pillard had authorized a strike to be called against the AT&T System, including Illinois Bell Telephone Company, if AT&T refused to make its final offer by midnight, August 6. Such a strike would involve all IBEW members employed in the AT&T System, including those members of Local 165, IBEW, employed by Illinois Bell.

5. At the negotiation meeting on Saturday, August 6, 1983, the AT&T representatives refused to present the Company's final offer to the representatives of the IBEW. After that final negotiating session on August 6, I carried out the strike sanction authorized by President Pillard, and advised the IBEW representatives that a strike would commence on August 7, 1983, because AT&T representatives had not given a final offer to the IBEW. I further advised the IBEW representatives that there was no need for the Local Unions to conduct votes concerning a final offer, because the Company had made no such final offer."

Plaintiff also filed a copy of the tally, by an election judge, of the strike authorization vote dated July 27, 1983. It indicated that the strike authorization vote of Local 165 on national issues was yes: 1330 to no: 720, and yes: 1447 to no: 847 on local items.

Based on the foregoing, the circuit court granted plaintiff's motions for summary judgment against Bradley and Stankoskey on June 27, 1985. ...


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