who chose to work an equal and reasonable opportunity to vote. Plaintiffs allege that some 2,000 to 8,000 members worked on the day of the vote and that "many members" applied for work permits unaware that a dues increase was pending (pl. mem. at 12). They allege that the district council provided no absentee ballots and also failed to hold open the polls to accommodate working members.
Plaintiffs almost exclusively rely upon McGinnis v. Local 710, 774 F.2d 196 (7th Cir. 1986). We question that reliance. In McGinnis, the Seventh Circuit held that where a union chose to open only a single polling place, either absentee ballots or regional meetings were required for members who lived more than 150 miles from the union hall. Id. at 201-03. The union could not impose such a "very substantial burden on the right to vote of a very significant percentage of the Local 710 membership." Id. Here, however, there were some 29 polling places and only a small percentage of the membership was inconvenienced. The issue therefore appears to return to the reasonableness of the notice: were that notice reasonable -- and we hold it was -- then those who chose to work made their own choice. It cannot be argued that the choice between voting and working on Saturday is so coercive as to be a "substantial burden on the right to vote." Id. No matter when the vote was scheduled, the plaintiffs could contend that the right to vote of some members was being burdened.
Put succinctly, McGinnis cannot be read so as to require the mailing of ballots to those members who choose to work on the date of the vote, nor can it be read to require the vote be taken on a particular day, e.g., Sunday, or during particular hours. Plaintiffs provide us with insufficient legal support to conclude that the "anti-democratic" effects of the four-hour Saturday vote renders the union's actions unreasonable.
In addition, it appears that only 701 work permits were issued for the day of the vote (Isaacson aff. para. 24). Of these 701 individuals, several voted nonetheless. Id. at para. 25. Some 236 of these covered four or less hours of work, id. at para. 24. And most importantly, even had all 701 of the individuals to whom work permits were issued decided to vote against the measure, the proposition still would have passed because the margin of victory was 877 votes. Id. at para. 26.
III. The Balance of Harms
We now return to the analysis established by Judge Posner in Roland Machinery. Were the plaintiffs to establish that the balance of harms overwhelmingly favored the granting of a preliminary injunction, this small probability of success might be sufficient. But we do not see much in the way of injury to either side. The plaintiffs have marshalled the appropriate cliches, that the loss of voting rights is a per se irreparable injury. And the defendants have paraded numerous logistical fears before us: the district council is running out of money with which to organize workers and adjust grievances, the membership would be confused, et cetera.
Given the lack of probable success on the merits, we conclude that the degree to which plaintiffs' harms are irreparable is insufficient. It is no doubt true that the loss of voting rights is the type of injury for which injunctive relief was intended. But here two circumstances conspire to warrant denial of that relief. First, the probability of success is quite small. And second, the alleged denial of voting rights was not with respect to a relatively unquantifiable issue, e.g., the election of directors and officers. The contested issue was a dues checkoff, a quantifiable fee. In the event that the plaintiffs succeed on the merits, a new election would be held and monetary damages would appropriately compensate these plaintiffs for the assessments incurred after the original vote.
For the foregoing reasons, plaintiffs' motion is denied.
February 9, 1989.
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