McDonald v. Oliver, Civ. A. No. 735-263(R)

Decision Date26 September 1974
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 735-263(R),S74-55(R).
Citation400 F. Supp. 660
PartiesMichael J. McDONALD et al., Plaintiffs, v. Harold OLIVER et al., Defendants. Peter J. BRENNAN, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff, v. LOCAL UNION 795, INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN'S ASSOCIATION, et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi

Alben N. Hopkins, Gulfport, Miss., for Michael J. McDonald and others.

Robert E. Hauberg, U. S. Atty., Jackson, Miss., for Dept. of Labor.

Charles T. Sykes, Jr., Gulfport, Miss., for defendants.

OPINION OF THE COURT

DAN M. RUSSELL, Jr., Chief Judge.

On November 23, 1973, Michael J. McDonald and other individually named plaintiffs, claiming to be the duly elected officers of Local 795, International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO, at Gulfport, Mississippi, filed this action against Harold Oliver and other individual hold-over officers, Local 795, Fred R. Field, Jr., Trustee over the local and the ILA. Claiming jurisdiction under Titles I and III of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 401, 462, 463 and 464, plaintiffs charge in Count I a conspiracy among ILA, its officers and agents, Field and Oliver to perpetuate the trusteeship over Local 795, coercing and intimidating a majority of the members and especially its duly elected officials, plaintiffs herein, and to prohibit by illegal means the installation and formal recognition of plaintiffs as the duly elected officers of Local 795 in an election held on October 6, 1973. Plaintiffs charge that the defendants individually and in concert and under the cover of the trusteeship have eliminated jobs for members not espousing defendants' views, refused payment of dues by members who chose to run for office against the trusteeship regime, refused work to members who opposed the corrupt practices of the trusteeship, and redrafted rules and regulations so as to destroy any semblance of democratic government or fair dealing within the local union. Plaintiffs allege that any exhaustion of intraunion remedies required decisions by those already committing wrongs and illegal acts and served only to perpetuate and compound the inequities. In Count II, plaintiffs allege that on May 1, 1971, Local 795 was placed in trusteeship. In a trustee's report to the Department of Labor under date of October 31, 1972, a copy being attached to the complaint, the report reflects that the trusteeship resulted from charges brought by a majority of the elected officials and more than 100 members of Local 795, the charges including but not limited to: (a) the president of the local (Oliver) solicited new members into the local and industry when there was insufficient work available; (b) the president (Oliver), by controlling the appointment of foremen, controlled the hiring practices of a company with which the local had a contract to the detriment of older members with seniority in favor of new men in the industry; (c) upon complaints to management that the foremen were ignoring seniority, management stated that it had nothing to do with the hiring of foremen; (d) the president (Oliver), in collusion with management, usurped the right of all other officers and members of the local to bargain collectively; and (e) the president (Oliver) failed and refused to seek arbitration of grievances as provided for in the collective bargaining agreement after being requested to do so by members or other officers of the local. This report also shows that a committee appointed by the Executive Board of ILA recommended that the local be placed in trusteeship, finding that (a) the president (Oliver) never had any intention of implementing the seniority provisions of the agreement; (b) the superintendents and supervisors were selecting employees without regard to seniority; and (c) the president (Oliver) appointed supervisors to head election committees to maintain control over the local; and, finally, the report shows that the committee's recommendation was adopted by the ILA Executive Council, the trusteeship having been established on May 1, 1971. The complaint alleges that the charges have not been remedied during the course of the trusteeship, but to the contrary have multiplied in that the trustee, defendant Field, appointed defendant Oliver to act as president and as his agent throughout the trusteeship, and that they have furthered and compounded the grievances resulting in the trusteeship. Plaintiffs charge that the continued existence of the trusteeship is in violation of Section 461 et seq. of 29 U. S.C. and is for the sole purpose of continuing in office those whom the trusteeship should have eliminated. Plaintiffs also aver that they were individually elected to the offices of the local and have sought to perform their duties, but have been unlawfully denied their right to do so by the actions of the defendants, and that the defendants, under the guise of the trusteeship, its cessation being long overdue, have usurped the powers, rights and privileges guaranteed to plaintiffs and other members of Local 795 by the constitution of the defendant International and the laws of the United States. In Count III of the complaint, plaintiffs charge that Oliver, individually and as agent of the trustee, in an effort to eliminate competition in union elections, illegally and in an undemocratic way sought to change the constitution and by-laws of the local union on July 7, 1973, a short while before an election of officers was scheduled to bring an end to the trusteeship.

For relief, plaintiffs, among other things, asked for a temporary order restraining defendants from interfering with plaintiffs' rights to hold office, for preliminary and permanent injunctive and declaratory relief dissolving the trusteeship, preserving union assets and records, declaring the election of October 6, 1973, valid, and for reimbursement of all salaries and expenses improperly incurred during the trusteeship.

At an early hearing, the Court denied plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order and set the matter for a trial on the merits beginning January 15, 1974, meanwhile urging the parties to try to resolve their differences through union procedures. Prior to the scheduled hearing, the trustee, Local 795 and ILA filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their internal union remedies, and that plaintiffs were not proper parties in that their remedy is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Secretary of Labor. In their answer, defendants admitted the jurisdiction of the Court under Title I but denied jurisdiction under Title III as to all allegations concerning the trusteeship, and, as to all allegations concerning the election (Title IV), again pled that the Secretary of Labor had exclusive authorization to initiate legal action. Affirmatively, defendants pled that a committee had been appointed to investigate plaintiffs' complaints, including the validity of the election of October 6, 1973, and to report its findings to ILA's President and Executive Council; and that it was conceivable that the report could contain findings and recommendations for relief equivalent to that sought by plaintiffs. Defendants amended their answer to plead that all plaintiffs' allegations pertaining to their denial of employment are exclusively within the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board which had previously ruled against McDonald on such charges. Defendants further pled that the ILA investigation of the October 6, 1973, election shows that it should be set aside on the grounds that McDonald and E. J. Lebeau were not qualified nominees for elective office, ineligible members voted, and observers were not permitted to observe within the polls.

The hearing began as scheduled, with the Court finding that it had jurisdiction under Title I as it pertains to union members' voting rights and under Title III inasmuch as Section 464(a), 29 U.S. C., specifically provides that a member may bring an action under Title III. The Court heard numerous witnesses for plaintiffs and received documentary evidence before recessing the cause to June 11, 1974.

On March 25, 1974, the Secretary of Labor filed his action, styled and numbered above, against Local 795 and ILA, invoking jurisdiction under Title IV, Section 482(b), 29 U.S.C. The Secretary alleged that Michael J. McDonald, plaintiff in Cause No. 73S-263(R), and a member in good standing of Local 795, by a letter of October 22, 1973, addressed to Thomas W. Gleason, ILA president, protested the ILA's failure to install the officers duly elected on October 6, 1973; that Gleason acknowledged McDonald's protest by letter of October 24, 1974, advising that an investigation of the matter would be made. On January 17, 1974, McDonald and others appealed from the findings of the committee appointed to investigate, and have invoked all available remedies without obtaining a final union decision within three months. Pursuant to Section 482(a)(2), 29 U.S.C., McDonald and others filed a complaint with the Secretary. Pursuant to 29 U.S.C., Section 521 and in accordance with 29 U.S.C., Section 482(b), the Secretary investigated and found probable cause to believe that Section 481(e) was violated in that the defendants denied members in good standing the right to hold office through defendants' failure to install the officers elected on October 6, 1973, and that said violation may have effected the outcome of the election. The Secretary, for a second cause of action relating to Title III, alleged that the ILA imposed trusteeship has continued far beyond its eighteen months' presumed validity; that by letter of February 16, 1973, members of the local had complained to the Secretary that the trusteeship should be dissolved; that the Secretary has investigated and found probable cause to believe that a violation of Title III has occurred and has not...

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4 cases
  • McDonald v. Oliver, AFL--CIO
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • January 14, 1976
    ...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 ter......
  • Fennelly v. LOCAL 971, Civ. A. No. 74-5034-F.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts
    • September 23, 1975
    ...members. The Court is unable to see how there has been a colorable violation of equal rights. Plaintiff's reliance on McDonald v. Oliver, 400 F.Supp. 660 (S.D.Miss. 1974), is misplaced. In that case there was a trusteeship question which added considerable complexity to the matter. Further,......
  • United States v. Brown
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Mississippi
    • September 17, 1975
    ... ... Henry Newton BROWN, Jr., et al., Defendants ... Civ. A. No. J74-141(N) ... United States District Court, S. D. Mississippi, ... ...
  • McDonald v. Oliver
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • April 10, 1981
    ...grows out of protracted litigation begun in November, 1973. The underlying facts were delineated fully by the district court in McDonald v. Oliver, 1 400 F.Supp. 660 (S.D.Miss.1974) and by this court in McDonald v. Oliver, 525 F.2d 1217 (5th Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 817, 97 S.Ct. ......

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