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Chao v. Local 743

April 17, 2007

ELAINE L. CHAO, SECRETARY OF LABOR, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LOCAL 743, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The Secretary of Labor filed a complaint against Teamsters Local 743 alleging that the Local violated section 401 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 481-84, in its December 2004 election. The Secretary seeks an order declaring the December 2004 election null and void for the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and three Trustees. The Secretary also asks the Court to order a new election for those offices, to be held under her supervision.

The Secretary alleged in her complaint that in the December 2004 election, Local 743 failed to provide adequate safeguards to ensure a fair election and denied the right of candidates to have observers present during several phases of the election, in violation of section 401(c) of the LMRDA. The Secretary further alleged that Local 743 violated section 401(e) of the LMRDA when it denied members in good standing the right to vote by mailing ballots to incorrect addresses, where they allegedly were marked by individuals other than the designated recipients but nonetheless counted in the election tally. The Secretary also contends that Local 743 violated section 401(e) by failing to preserve its election records for one year.

The Secretary has moved for entry of partial summary judgment. She contends that complainant Richard Berg exhausted his internal union remedies before filing his complaint with the Secretary. She also contends that Local 743 violated section 401(e) by failing to preserve all records used to determine voter eligibility during the vote tally. Local 743 has cross-moved for summary judgment, arguing that Berg failed to exhaust internal union remedies.

For the following reasons, the Court grants the Secretary's motion in part and denies it in part and denies Local 743's motion.

Facts

Local 743 is a local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America. On December 4, 2004, Local 743 held an election for officers. The election was subject to the provisions of Title IV of the LMRDA. At the time of the election, Local 743 had approximately 12,000 members.

On December 6, 2004, Richard Berg, a Local 743 member in good standing, filed a post-election protest with Local 743's Secretary-Treasurer. Berg alleged several election irregularities in both the initial October 2004 election and the rerun election held on December 4, 2004.*fn1 Regarding the December 2004 election, he alleged, among other things, the following:

Patricia Velasco, the election supervisor, did not allow the 743 New Leadership slate (Berg's slate) to monitor the election; she did not allow the New Leadership slate to challenge any ballots; an employee with allegiance to the incumbent 743 Unity slate had resolved all challenges; there were no adequate safeguards of the integrity of the vote, making it likely that voter fraud occurred; many members who requested ballots did not receive them; incumbent officers and their agents collected ballots and marked and mailed them for members employed at Rush Hospital and at other units of the Local; and the incumbent 743 Unity slate intimidated members by telling them that if they voted for the 743 New Leadership slate, they would lose their jobs and no longer be in the Union. See Pl. Ex. 1.

On December 7, 2004, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Joint Council 25 confirmed by letter that it had received Berg's post-election protest. On February 25, 2005, IBT Joint Council 25's Secretary-Treasurer scheduled Berg's post-election protest for hearing on Monday, March 21, 2005. Due to a scheduling conflict, the hearing was rescheduled for April 7, 2005. On March 31, 2005, Berg filed a complaint with the Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Labor Management and Standards. Over a year after Berg's post-election protest, on March 17, 2006, the Executive Board of Joint Council 25 issued its decision on Berg's complaint.

Prior to the December 2004 election, the IBT provided Local 743 with an election control roster (ECR) report that indicated eligibility of the membership and identified members whose current eligibility was in question. The IBT also provided Local 743 with a set of guidelines for conducting local union elections. The guidelines explained, among other things, that for local union elections "the ECR cannot be used by itself to conclusively determine whether every individual voter is eligible or ineligible," partly because eligibility to vote in the International's elections differs from eligibility to vote in local union elections. See Pl. Ex. 8. The parties dispute whether Local 743 followed the procedures set forth in the IBT's guidelines for conducting local union elections.

In addition to the ECR, Local 743 used a printout dated December 3, 2004 from the Titan data base system, a computer system maintained by the IBT. The election officer, Thaddeus "Ted" Bania, used the printout to review dues payment history and determine voter eligibility for the December 2004 election with regard to individuals who were coded as "challenged" on the ECR.*fn2 The ECR list contained 3,687 eligible-coded members and 8,975 challenge-coded members. The parties dispute how many ballots Local 743 received from challenge-coded members.

The Local contends that the December 3 printout contained the same information that would have appeared on the screen had Titan been operating on December 4. Local 743 concedes that it cannot re-create the December 3 printout but says that on an individual basis, the dues payment history can be re-created in the Titan system by typing in the individual's name or Social Security number. The Secretary says it is not possible to re-create the necessary data.

During the tallying of the vote, Bania had half of the printout that detailed members' dues payment history and another Local 743 employee, Maria Chavez, had the other half. According to Local 743, both slates had observers posted next to Bania and Chavez. The parties dispute the ...


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