McDonald v. Oliver, AFL--CIO

Decision Date14 January 1976
Docket NumberNo. 74--3731,AFL--CIO,74--3731
Citation525 F.2d 1217
Parties91 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2215, 78 Lab.Cas. P 11,264 Michael J. McDONALD et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Harold OLIVER et al., Defendants-Appellants. John T. DUNLOP, Secretary of Labor, U.S. Department of Labor, Plaintiff- Appellee, v. LOCAL UNION 795, INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN'S ASSOCIATION,, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

C. T. Sykes, Jr., Gulfport, Miss., Thomas W. Gleason, Herzl S. Eisenstadt, New York City, Victor H. Hess, Jr., New Orleans, La., for defendants-appellants.

Alben N. Hopkins, Gulfport, Miss., for McDonald.

Robert E. Hauberg, U.S. Atty., Jackson, Miss., for Brennan.

George Palmer, U.S. Dept. of Labor, Birmingham, Ala., William Kanter, Barbara L. Herwig, Paul Blankenstein, App. Sec., Civ. Div., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for plaintiffs-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Before GEWIN, COLEMAN and GEE, Circuit Judges.

COLEMAN, Circuit Judge.

The various defendants appeal the judgment of the District Court, rendered under Titles I, III, and IV of the Labor Management Reporting Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. Sections 401, et seq., 1 mandatorily enjoining compliance with the results of a union election in which the plaintiffs were chosen to be officers of Local 795 of the International Long-shoremen's Association, dissolving a trusteeship over that Local, enjoining defendants from declaring McDonald ineligible for Local office, enjoining further violations of Title III, and awarding both back pay and attorney fees, McDonald v. Oliver, 400 F.Supp. 660 (S.D.Miss.1974).

Appellees cross appeal, asserting inadequacy of the awarded attorney fees and challenging the two year length of the term of office prescribed by the District Court.

Except as to that portion of the appeal which has been rendered moot, the Judgment of the District Court is affirmed on both direct and cross appeals.

Facts of the Case

Local 795 is one of two branches of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) operating in the Gulfport, Mississippi area. Internal dissension in the Local reached a peak in 1970, during Harold Oliver's second term as president, when all the other officers and 103 union members petitioned the International president to impose a trusteeship on the Local. The purpose of the petition, of course, was to relieve Oliver of his presidency. Among the specifications in the bill of particulars submitted to an International special committee were that (1) Oliver had solicited new members into the Local at a time when there was insufficient work available for the current members of the Local; (2) he had controlled the appointment of foremen and thereby the hiring practices of management, to the detriment of senior members of the union; (3) in collusion with management, he had usurped the right of other officers and members of the Local to engage in collective bargaining; and (4) he had failed and refused to seek arbitration of grievances as provided for in the collective bargaining agreement after having been requested to do so by members and officers of the Local.

There were complaints, also, concerning the management of Local 795's Pension, Welfare and Vacation Trust Funds. Specifically, as a trustee for the Fund, McDonald objected to the $220 per week Oliver and the president of 795's sister Local 1303 were receiving as compensation for handling claims against the Funds.

After a hearing, the special committee recommended that Local 795 be placed in trusteeship. The committee found that Oliver never had any intention of implementing the seniority provisions of the Local's collective bargaining agreements, that employees were being selected for work without regard to seniority, and that Oliver had appointed supervisors to head the Local's election committees in order to insure his continued control of the Local's affairs. The ILA Executive Council then voted to invoke the trusteeship.

In April of 1971, the ILA president appointed the Trustee. He was Fred Field, a general organizer and vice-president of the ILA. Field was authorized to assume immediately the duties of trustee, to take all steps necessary to correct any abuses in the Local's pension and welfare fund operation, to negotiate and place into effect a seniority system for the protection of all longshoremen, and to remove, if necessary, any and all officers of the Local.

Oliver's alleged mismanagement of the Local's affairs and abuse of his powers as president caused the imposition of the trusteeship. Trustee Field acknowledged that Oliver drank heavily and was in trouble with respect to the trust funds. Nevertheless, Field did not remove Oliver from office. On the contrary, he delegated virtually all of his duties to Oliver. As should have been expected, this course met with dissatisfaction. By September, 1972, the amount owed by companies to the trust funds rose to over $658,000, with no legal attempt at collection. This was not all. The seniority plan was not effected, Oliver traveled to union meetings and conventions as an observer at the Local's expense, and the rosters of Local 795 and black Local 1303 had not been integrated.

On February 16, 1973, a complaint was filed with the Secretary of Labor, in which members of the Local asserted that the trusteeship had not 'accomplished the purpose for which it was established and under present conditions there is no just cause to continue the trusteeship'. The complaint also asserted that the continuance of the trusteeship was detrimental to the membership of the Local. Accordingly, the complaining members requested that the trusteeship be brought to an immediate conclusion, and an election for new officers be held at once.

The Secretary investigated the complaint and found probable cause to believe that no valid purpose would be served by a continuance of the trusteeship which had been in existence for more than 18 months. However, during the course of the investigation, the Secretary had information that the ILA intended to end the trusteeship and had set up a schedule for the election of new officers. Based upon this information the Secretary determined for the time being not to pursue legal action to terminate the trusteeship.

In June of 1973, Field set up the following schedule for resumption of the Local's autonomy.

(1) July 7, 1973--Membership meeting to explain Seniority Plan.

(2) August 4, 1973--Distribution of seniority cards.

(3) August 13, 1973--New hiring system under Seniority Plan to go into effect.

(4) September 1, 1973--Meeting for nomination of officers of Local 795.

(5) October 6, 1973--Election of officers.

(6) November 3, 1973--Installation of new officers.

This timetable for dissolution of the trusteeship was adhered to through the October 6 election, except that in the meeting of July 7, Oliver chose not to explain the Seniority Plan but sought approval of a new constitution and by-laws which would have had the effect of disqualifying both his opponents for the Local presidency. Because the constitution and by-laws were not approved by the International prior to election, they were deemed not to have any effect upon the eligibility of the candidates for the various offices.

On October 6, McDonald received 136 votes for president, Oliver received 115, and LeBeau 66; McDonald's plurality, 21.

After the winners were certified, a number of protests to the election were filed by individual members of the Local, such as that (1) McDonald was ineligible to hold union office because he had not been working or seeking work as a longshoreman for the year prior to the election, contrary to the provisions of the International's constitution and (2) LeBeau, who had been working as a supervisor for the Sealand Terminal Company, had not resigned this capacity sufficiently prior to the election, contrary to the ILA constitutional provision prohibiting union officers or candidates from holding supervisory positions.

The District Court found that McDonald had been seeking work but was unable to find employment on the docks because of pressure imposed by Oliver upon gang foremen not to hire him. The Court also found that when LeBeau ran for the presidency he was no longer working as a supervisor and was therefore eligible for the office.

On October 22, 1973, through his attorney, McDonald wrote ILA President Gleason requesting information about the election protests so that 'appropriate measures may be taken to insure the installation of duly elected officers'. On October 24, Gleason wrote McDonald that he was awaiting a recommendation from the president of the South Atlantic & Gulf Coast District of the ILA before taking action. The following day, the district president telegraphed Gleason that the scheduled installation of officers should be stayed pending further investigation. The International's president concurred in the recommendation, and the ILA Executive Council voted to stay the installation of officers. The members of the Local were notified that a committee of three ILA vice-presidents had been appointed to investigate the election.

Because of the ILA's decision to stay the scheduled installation, plaintiffs filed suit on November 27, 1973, under Titles I and III of the LMRDA seeking, among other things, their installation as officers and an end to the trusteeship.

In the meantime, the ILA continued its investigation of the alleged election irregularities. On the basis of hearings held by the International in early January, the committee concluded that the October 6 election should be declared invalid. Specifically, the committee found that the following violations of the constitution and by-laws of the Local and of the International had influenced the election: (1) members who were not qualified were nominated and received votes for the office of president (McDonald and LeBeau); (2)...

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