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American Postal Workers Union, O'Hare Midway " T" Local 7011 v. American Postal Workers Union

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

February 18, 2015

AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION, O'HARE MIDWAY " T" LOCAL 7011 ET AL., Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION, AFL-CIO, Defendant

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For American Postal Workers Union, O'Hare Midway " T" Local 7011, Donald Greer, Patrick Hooper, Saunder Jones, Thais Hampton, Plaintiffs: Brian C. Hlavin, LEAD ATTORNEY, Baum, Sigman, Auerbach, Pierson, Neuman & Katsaros, Ltd., Chicago, IL; Patrick N. Ryan, Baum Sigman Auerbach & Neuman, Ltd., Chicago, IL.

For American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, Defendant: Arlus J Stephens, LEAD ATTORNEY, Murphy Anderson Pllc, Washington, DC; Lee Wilbert Jackson, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, O'donnell, Schwartz And Anderson, P.c., Washington, DC; Karen I. Engelhardt, Thomas Deacon Allison, Allison, Slutsky & Kennedy, P.C., Chicago, IL.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, United States District Judge.

American Postal Workers Union, O'Hare Midway " T" Local 7011 and several of its officers and members (collectively referred to as Local 7011) have sued the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO (APWU), alleging violations of section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. 29 U.S.C. § 185. APWU has moved to dismiss the complaint. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants APWU's motion.

Background

For purposes of the motion to dismiss, the Court accepts as true the facts alleged in Local 7011's complaint. APWU is a national union that represents postal service employees. Am. Compl. ¶ 5. The relationship between APWU and its local unions, including Local 7011, is governed by APWU's constitution, by-laws, and merger guidelines.[1] Those documents were attached to Local 7011's complaint and are therefore considered part of the pleadings. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c).

Local 7011 represented approximately 350 employees who worked for the United States Postal Service at the Chicago International Military Service Center (CIMSC), located at 11600 West Irving Park Road in Chicago, Illinois. Am. Compl. ¶ 2. Donald Greer is the president of Local 7011, and the other individual plaintiffs, Patrick Hooper, Saunder Jones, and Thais Hampton, are members of the local. Id. ¶ 3.

On September 14, 2012, the Postal Service notified APWU that it would be consolidating the CIMSC and the Irving Park Road Processing and Distribution Center, located next to the CIMSC. Id. ¶ 11. The letter stated that Irving Park Road bargaining unit employees, who were represented by Local 0001 of the APWU, would be involuntarily reassigned to work at the CIMSC. Id.

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On September 22, 2012, " Local 7011 sent a request to the APWU that it be designated as the exclusive bargaining representative of the merged employees." Id. ¶ 16. Local 7011 cited the provision of APWU's merger guidelines that states: " [w]hen the operation of an identified section within a Local is transferred permanently to an existing postal installation represented by a different Local, the gaining Local shall assume representation rights of the employees." Id. ¶ 13 (quoting Ex. B, § 2.8(2)(D)). Local 7011 contended that it should assume representation of the employees that were reassigned because it was the gaining local. Id. ¶ 15.

" [O]n June 28, 2013, the National Executive Board of the APWU decided to conduct a jurisdictional representation referendum to determine which Local Union would represent all employees at the merged facilities." Id. ¶ 18. Local 7011 objected to the referendum on July 13, 2013, arguing that it should represent the employees. In the alternative, Local 7011 argued that the approximately 1,000 members of Local 0001 who worked at facilities other than Irving Park Road should not be allowed to vote. Id. ¶ 18-19. The executive board denied the objection on July 30, 2013. That same day, Local 7011 " requested that the National Executive Board reconsider its decision and stated its intention to appeal the decision to the next National Convention, to be held in July or August 2014. Absent reconsideration, Local 7011 requested that the APWU stay the referendum pending consideration by the National Convention." Id. ¶ 21. APWU denied both requests, and on August 6, 2013, it " notified Local 7011 that Local 0001 won the referendum by a vote of 199 to 122, with just 323 out of 2040 eligible members voting." Id. ¶ 23. Local 7011 appealed the referendum, claiming that many members did not receive ballots or return envelopes and that the certified results were " facially inaccurate." Id. ¶ 24. Since that appeal, Local 0001 has assumed representing bargaining employees at the merged facility, including the individual plaintiffs in this case. Id. ¶ 25.

Local 7011 filed this suit in October 2013, alleging that APWU violated the union's constitution and merger guidelines. The Court stayed the case in March 2014 after the parties agreed that Local 7011 could present resolutions concerning the merger and referendum at APWU's biennial national convention in July 2014.

After the convention, Local 7011 filed an amended complaint, adding allegations that APWU violated the constitution during the meeting. Local 7011 contends that although it timely submitted materials for the convention, its resolutions were not included in the convention booklet. Id. ¶ 27-28. Additionally, " Local 7011's resolutions were not presented until the last issue on the last day of the Convention, after a substantial number of delegates (over 60%) had left." Id. ¶ 31. Local 7011's president, Donald Greer, was allowed only five minutes to speak, while at least three other union representatives spoke against Local 7011's resolutions. Id. ¶ 32. Local 7011 contends that " [t]his lack of debate was inconsistent with how the Convention handled all prior resolutions, each of which required a motion to end debate." Id. After the presentations, delegates were asked to stand to vote on whether to affirm the executive board's decision to grant Local 0001 responsibility over employees at the merged facility. Id. ¶ 33. The general president determined that the delegates had voted to affirm, although Greer thought the vote was " too close to call." Id. ¶ 34. A delegate requested a tally, " but the General President stated that the vote was clear and no tally would be held. Thereafter, delegates began leaving the Convention en mass [sic].

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Only after a substantial number of delegates had left was a vote held on whether to conduct a tally, which was voted down." Id. ¶ 35.

Local 7011 contends that APWU violated the union's constitution and merger guidelines by

(a) failing to designate Local 7011 as the exclusive bargaining representative of the bargaining unit employees at the CIMSC;

(b) failing to give sufficient notice of the referendum;
(c) failing to conduct a fair referendum;
(d) failing to present Plaintiffs' resolutions at the Convention in good faith;
(e) failing to conduct the Convention consistent with due process and the procedural rules ...

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