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O'CONNOR v. LOCAL 719

May 8, 1990

JOHN O'CONNOR, Q.L. PATTERSON, RONALD SIEVERTSON, LEON ELLIS, FRANCES LaREAU and KENNETH MACEK, Plaintiffs,
v.
LOCAL 719, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN

 MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 John O'Conner, *fn1" Q. L. Patterson, Ronald Sievertson, Leon Ellis, Frances LaReau and Kenneth Macek are members of Local 719 of the United Auto Workers. The plaintiffs claim that Local 719 violated their rights under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 411 ("LMRDA"). Currently before us is Local 719's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, we grant this motion.

 Background

 The plaintiffs are six disgruntled union members who allege wrongdoing by union officials during the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement. *fn2" The plaintiffs were employed as maintenance painters by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors ("Electro-Motive"). Their collective bargaining agent was Local 719, the local affiliate of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America ("the International Union"). During the fall of 1987, the International Union and Local 719 were in the process of negotiating new agreements with General Motors and Electro-Motive.

 Local 719 and Electro-Motive reached a tentative local agreement, which included a provision for the consolidation of a number of production and skilled trade classifications. Local 719 scheduled this proposed agreement for a ratification vote on October 11, 1987. Pursuant to a provision of the constitution of the International Union, separate ratification votes were held for production employees and skilled trade employees. Although the production employees voted in favor of ratification, the skilled trade employees elected not to ratify the proposed agreement by a vote of 263 against ratification and 132 in favor of ratification.

 Accordingly, Local 719 and Electro-Motive went back to the drawing board in an effort to draft an agreement that would satisfy the skilled trade employees. Beginning on October 11th, union and company officials re-negotiated the skilled trade provisions of the agreement. A meeting was held on November 4 to discuss the progress of negotiations and to allow union members to express their concerns. Finally, on November 11th, the two parties reached a tentative agreement.

 Following the conclusion of negotiations on November 11th, officials of Local 719 contacted officials of the International Union. Because the National Agreement and the vast majority of local agreements had already been ratified, they decided that a ratification vote should be held as soon as possible. The union officials decided to hold the vote on November 16th, the following Monday. They chose this date because they believed that there would be greater participation if the election were held on a work day and members were given an opportunity to vote throughout the day.

 The ratification vote was held on November 16th as scheduled. Members were permitted to vote at any time from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Union officials held informational meetings throughout the day for those members who sought additional information before voting. It is undisputed that five of the six plaintiffs voted in the election. *fn3" The Local Agreement was ratified by a vote of 255 for ratification and 234 against ratification.

 On February 24, 1988, O'Conner, Macek, Sievertson, LaReau and Ellis filed an appeal with the Executive Board of the International Union. They contended that they had received insufficient advance notice of the second ratification vote. The Executive Board denied the appeal on two grounds. First, they found that the appeal was untimely pursuant to Article 33, § 4(c) of the International Union's constitution. Second, the Executive Board found that the appeal was without merit for a number of reasons. Among the reasons given were the absence of concrete evidence that any eligible member was denied the opportunity to vote and the fact that the number of voting participants exceeded the normal participation in such an election. This decision of the Executive Board was appealed to a Public Review Board, which also found the plaintiffs' contention of insufficient notice to be without merit.

 Standard of Review

 "A motion for summary judgment should be granted only when there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Checkers, Simon & Rosner v. Lurie Corp., 864 F.2d 1338 (7th Cir. 1989) (citation omitted). The moving party bears the burden of establishing the absence of any disputed facts. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). If, however, the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving an issue at trial, it also bears the burden of presenting sufficient facts on summary judgment from which a trier of fact could find in its favor, and the moving party need only "[point] out to the ...


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