United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
WILLIE ENGLISH, REMZI JAOS, RICARDO LOZA, BRENDA WOODALL, BASHIR B. NURUDDIN, TOM HALEY, and LEONARD SIMPSON, Plaintiffs,
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 73, and DENISE POLYAC, individually and as former Trustee of SEIU, LOCAL 73, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
JORGE ALONSO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Willie English, Remzi Jaos, Ricardo Loza, Brenda Woodall,
Bashir B. Nuruddin, Tom Haley, and Leonard Simpson, bring
this suit against their former employer and labor union,
Service Employees International Union (“SEIU”)
Local 73, and Denise Polyac, formerly one of the trustees in
charge of SEIU Local 73. Plaintiffs claim that they were
terminated in violation of their rights as union members
under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of
1959 (“LMRDA”), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et
seq. Defendants move to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the
motion is granted.
August 2016, SEIU Local 73 was taken into trusteeship by
SEIU, its international parent union. (See
Defs.’ Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. A, SEIU
Const. and Bylaws, Art. VIII, Sec. 7, ECF No. 18-1 at 20.)
Plaintiffs were all employees and members of SEIU Local 73,
as well as members of the Service Employees Staff Union
(“SESU”), the exclusive collective bargaining
representative of Local 73 employees. Some of the plaintiffs
held elective office in SESU. Plaintiffs disagreed with the
policies, direction, and management of Local 73 under
Polyac’s trusteeship, and, while the trusteeship was
still in place, plaintiffs independently formed a slate of
candidates to campaign for election to leadership positions
in the next Local 73 election.
began to publicly discuss the campaign, known as
“Members Leading Members” (“MLM”), in
March 2017. Poloyac threatened to terminate his employment
unless he desisted and supported the trusteeship. In June
2017, Jaos was terminated.
January 2018, the MLM campaign published its slate of
candidates, which included plaintiffs, and their positions on
a website. Within the month, English, Woodall, Loza,
Nuruddin, Haley, and Simpson were all suspended and then
terminated. Their termination letters specifically cited
their involvement in the MLM campaign as the reason for their
termination. Plaintiffs subsequently filed this suit.
motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests
whether the complaint states a claim on which relief may be
granted.” Richards v. Mitcheff, 696 F.3d 635,
637 (7th Cir. 2012). Under Rule 8(a)(2), a complaint must
include “a short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain statement under
Rule 8(a)(2) must “‘give the defendant fair
notice of what . . . the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.’” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson,
355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)).
federal notice-pleading standards, a plaintiff’s
“[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right
to relief above the speculative level.” Id.
Stated differently, “a complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.’” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “In reviewing the
sufficiency of a complaint under the plausibility standard,
[courts must] accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint
as true, but [they] ‘need[ ] not accept as true legal
conclusions, or threadbare recitals of the elements of a
cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements.’” Alam v. Miller Brewing
Co., 709 F.3d 662, 665-66 (7th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)).
LMRDA “was the product of congressional concern with
widespread abuses of power by union leadership.”
Finnegan v. Leu, 456 U.S. 431, 435 (1982).
“Tensions between union leaders and the rank-and-file
members and allegations of union wrongdoing led to . . .
legislation focused on disclosure requirements and the
regulation of union trusteeships and elections, ” but
that also provided “protection for members of unions
paralleling certain rights guaranteed by the Federal
Constitution.” Id. These provisions,
“ultimately enacted . . . under the title of
‘Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations,
’” id., include the following:
(a)(1) Equal rights
Every member of a labor organization shall have equal rights
and privileges within such organization to nominate
candidates, to vote in elections or referendums of the labor
organization, to attend membership meetings, and to
participate in the deliberations and voting upon the business
of such meetings, subject to reasonable rules and regulations
in such organization’s constitution and bylaws.
(2) Freedom of speech and assembly
Every member of any labor organization shall have the right
to meet and assemble freely with other members; and to
express any views, arguments, or opinions; and to express at
meetings of the labor organization his views, upon candidates
in an election of the labor organization or upon any business
properly before the meeting, subject to the
organization's established and reasonable rules
pertaining to the conduct of meetings: Provided,
That nothing herein shall be construed to impair the right of
a labor organization to adopt and enforce reasonable rules as
to the responsibility of every member toward the ...