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DUFFY v. IBEW

December 5, 1991

JOSEPH DUFFY, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, LOCAL NO. 134, and INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, Defendants.


DUFF


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRIAN BARNETT DUFF

Introduction

 Joseph Duffy has sued the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, No. 134 ("Local 134") and its parent organization, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ("IBEW") for allegedly violating his rights as a union member. His one-count complaint alleges that the Defendants have violated 101(a)(1), (2) and 609 of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act ("LMRDA"), *fn1" 29 U.S.C. §§ 411(a)(1),(2) and 529. § 102 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 412, creates a civil action for the violations alleged. IBEW has filed an answer but Local 134 has moved pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the action against it. For reasons stated herein, Local 134's motion to dismiss is denied.

 Background2

 Local 134 represents over 7000 construction electricians in the Chicago metropolitan area. IBEW is the parent organization of Local 134 and has ultimate authority to take control of the local's affairs.

 Plaintiff Duffy was an active member of Local 134 from 1945 to 1990. Beginning in the early 1960s, he served in various elected and appointed offices for the local and its associated organizations, including serving simultaneously as chairman of the local's executive board (an elected position) and as business representative (an appointed position) in the spring of 1990--prior to his ouster.

 Throughout Duffy's career with Local 134, and presently, the local has been responsible for issuing working credentials, certifying journeymen electricians and operating an exclusive job referral system for union electrical contractors and union electricians. Unless issued a journeyman card (known also as an "A" card), an apprentice card, or an "A" probationary permit by Local 134, an electrician may not work for a union contractor.

 Under Local 134's bylaws, and in practice, there have been only three means by which an electrician can obtain full journeyman status and an "A" card. Those three means are (1) completing an apprenticeship program, (2) passing a test after working 4,000 hours for a union contractor (or 6,000 hours for more than one contractor, or (3) remaining in the employ of a newly organized, formerly non-union employer for whom the electrician had previously worked for at least a year. In addition, all job referrals of certified electricians are to be made by the local's seniority board.

 In November, 1988, at a meeting of the Electrical Insurance Fund, it was disclosed that $ 350,000 had been paid out to Local 134 members in supplemental unemployment benefits even though the Fund's records showed that there were no electricians out of work. At that time, Duffy was a trustee of the Fund and he, along with another trustee, was asked to investigate the discrepancy. In the course of his investigation, Duffy interviewed officials of the Local 134 seniority board and learned that at least 1,000 electricians were working in the industry who had obtained their "A" cards directly from the union's executive board without having satisfied one of the three requirements for obtaining "A" cards.

 Duffy informed James Conway, IBEW's vice-president, of the fact that over 1,000 electricians had illicitly obtained "A" cards. The finding was also reported at the local's April, 1989 membership meeting. The membership then passed a resolution to establish a special committee to investigate the improper issuance of "A" cards by Local 134's executive board. Duffy was one of five members appointed to the special investigative committee.

 In what seems to be a classic example of the fox guarding the hen house, two of the five members of the special investigative committee declined to participate in the investigation. One of them was Tim Bresnahan who at the time was Local 134's Business Manager. The other was an individual identified in the complaint as "Dunne" who was allegedly a "key player" in the scheme to wrongfully issue "A" cards.

 Local 134 also engaged in more active means of thwarting the investigation. The local's Financial secretary, Ed Ryan, actively attempted to obstruct the investigation. He tried to delay the special committee's meetings and also instructed union employees not to cooperate with it. Despite the lack of cooperation from certain elements of Local 134's leadership, the special committee discovered evidence that the local's executive board had issued hundreds of "A" cards to electricians who were reportedly employed by newly organized, formerly non-union, employers. The special investigative committee, however, also uncovered evidence that the claim that the credentials were being issued to newly organized employees was simply false.

 The executive board's circumvention of the established procedures for issuing "A" cards flooded the labor market with large numbers of inexperienced but credentialed electricians. These electricians were then placed with employers without going through the union's seniority board. As a result of the scheme to issue unauthorized credentials and then bypass the seniority board, employment opportunities were greatly reduced for properly certified Local 134 journeymen electricians awaiting job referrals through the seniority board.

 The scheme affected most adversely job opportunities for minority class members covered by a consent decree in Ridgeway, et al. v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, No. 134, et al., 74 C 3045 (N.D. Ill). The Ridgeway consent decree required the union to train minority electricians through the apprentice program and also to provide tests for experienced electricians working on "A" probationary permits. Moreover, ignoring the seniority ...


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