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TISZA v. COMMUNICATION WORKERS
May 29, 1991
STEVE G. TISZA, GEORGE SULLIVAN, DALE ROCHFORD, TILLIE FREELAND, DIANE HOLMES, JOE W. KOROTENKO, GREG NAWROCKI, JON PETERSON and TANYA GARY-JONES, Plaintiffs,
COMMUNICATION WORKERS OF AMERICA, MORTON BAHR, JAMES BOOE and JAMES E. IRVINE, Defendants
Marvin E. Aspen, United States District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ASPEN
MARVIN E. ASPEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Defendants Communications Workers of America ("CWA"), Morton Bahr (CWA President), James E. Booe (CWA Secretary-Treasurer), and James E. Irvine (CWA Vice-President) (collectively, "Union") have moved for summary judgment
on the complaint filed by the plaintiffs, all of whom are members of both CWA and CWA Local 4250. The two-count complaint alleges that the Union violated § 101(a)(1) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1) (1988) by denying plaintiffs "and other members of the class represented by plaintiffs"
their "equal right to vote" (Count I), and that the Union violated article XVIII, § 4 of the CWA Constitution, a transgression actionable under § 301(a) of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 185(a) (1988) (Count II). For the reasons set forth below, we grant the Union's motion for summary judgment.
I. Summary Judgment Standard
Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and . . . the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). This standard places the initial burden on the moving party to identify "those portions of 'the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986) (quoting Rule 56(c)). Once the moving party has done this, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e) (emphasis added).
The suit stems from the ratification by certain CWA locals of an "enhanced pension program agreement" between CWA and American Telephone and Telegraph ("AT & T"). As the Union points out, it is undisputed that:
ii. CWA wrote its Locals on April 17, April 19, April 23, April 25, and April 27 and met with Local officials on April 28, 1990 regarding the ratification vote and the terms of the tentative agreement. Statement of Facts, paras. 20, 22-26; Allen Declaration, at paras. 24, 27-31; Exhibits "I"-"M".
iii. Approximately 35% of the eligible membership voted on the pension enhancement agreement. Statement of Facts, at para. 43; Allen Declaration, at para. 45 [footnote omitted]. In 1989, 44% of the eligible membership voted on the entire collective bargaining agreement, which determined all working conditions and affected all CWA-represented AT & T employees. Statement of Facts, at paras. 42-43; Allen Declaration, at paras. 44-45.
iv. Each CWA member was informed of the pension enhancement agreement and of the ratification of that agreement. Statement of Facts, at paras. 31-32; Allen Declaration, at paras. 36-37; Exhibits "P" and "Q" to Allen Declaration. Each affected Local was separately informed of the agreement and the ratification. Statement of Facts, at paras. 20-30; Allen Declaration, at paras. 34-35; Exhibits "N" and "O" to Allen Declaration. No member has claimed that he or she was not given the opportunity to vote, and no Local has claimed that it was unaware of the vote or that it did not give its members an opportunity to vote. Statement of Facts, at paras. 33-34; Allen Declaration, at paras. 38-39. None of these claims were made despite the fact that CWA has an established procedure for making such complaints. Statement of Facts, at paras. 48-50; Exhibit "A" to Allen Declaration, at Art. IX, § 7, and pp. 24-25.
v. The Plaintiffs' Local conducted a vote on the pension enhancement agreement, this vote counted in the official tally, and each of the Plaintiffs participated in that vote. Statement of Facts, at paras. 35-36; Allen Declaration, at para. 41[;] Complaint at para. 18.
vi. The ratification vote on the enhanced pension program was conducted in the same manner as other ratification votes. Statement of Facts, at para. 38[;] Allen Declaration, at para. 42. In AT & T ratification votes, it is normal for CWA to receive votes from fewer than all of its Locals, because many of these Locals have few or no members currently working at AT & T and not all eligible voters exercise ...
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