Parks v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Wkrs.

Decision Date23 January 1963
Docket NumberNo. 8649.,8649.
Citation314 F.2d 886
PartiesJohn E. PARKS, Jr., and Robert M. Foote and Albert McHugh and Paul Ziegler and Silvio Stamerro, Individually and as Representatives of the members of Local 28, I.B.E.W., in a Class Action, and Local Union 28, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Appellees and Cross-Appellants, v. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, Appellant and Cross-Appellee. Local Union No. 24 (IBEW), Intervenor.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit




John Henry Lewin, Baltimore, Md., and Thomas X. Dunn, Washington, D. C. (Robert R. Bair, and Venable, Baetjer & Howard, Baltimore, Md., on brief), for appellant and cross-appellee.

George Cochran Doub, Baltimore, Md. (Weinberg & Green, Baltimore, Md., on brief), for intervenor-appellant.

Melvin J. Sykes, Baltimore, Md. (Patrick A. O'Doherty, Baltimore, Md., on brief), for appellees and cross-appellants.

J. Albert Woll and Theodore J. St. Antoine, Washington, D. C., on brief for American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations as amicus curiæ.

Before SOBELOFF, Chief Judge, and SOPER and J. SPENCER BELL, Circuit Judges.

Certiorari Denied April 22, 1963. See 83 S.Ct. 1111.

SOBELOFF, Chief Judge.

A dispute between an international union and one of its component local unions which led to the revocation of the local's charter and the establishment of a new local embracing its jurisdiction, occasioned two suits against the international. One was brought by the local union and the other by five of its members in behalf of the membership, both suits seeking declaratory judgments and injunctive relief to restore the local to good standing in the international and to obtain incidental relief. The two suits have been consolidated. The revocation action complained of was taken by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) after its Local Union No. 28-IBEW (Local 28) went out on strike without obtaining the approval of the IBEW International President (IP) in contravention of the IBEW Constitution and failed to return to work in defiance of his repeated directions to do so. The strike was undertaken by the Local to enforce demands made by it in the course of contract negotiations with the Maryland Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

The plaintiffs contended below that the IP had no constitutional authority to refuse permission for the strike or to revoke Local 28's charter for disregard of his order. They further contended that even if constitutionally authorized, the action was invalid because: (1) it was in breach of a duty owed to the Local and its members, and was taken in bad faith for improper reasons; (2) the Local was not afforded a fair hearing before a properly constituted tribunal; and (3) the revocation was unjust and an unreasonably severe sanction in the circumstances.

More particularly, the plaintiffs maintained that the IP improperly collaborated with the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) during Local 28's collective bargaining negotiations with the Maryland Chapter of NECA; illegally sought to impose a perpetual collective bargaining agreement on the Local; and harbored animosity toward the Local and its leadership because of their efforts to maintain local autonomy. Moreover, they asserted that by deciding the charges against Local 28 when his own good faith was called into question, the IP denied the Local a fair hearing — a defect which was not cured by the appellate review of the IBEW International Executive Council.

The International replied that the revocation was justified because by engaging in a strike contrary to the IP's order, Local 28 was in clear violation of the IBEW Constitution; that the revocation was reasonable and necessary to maintain proper union discipline, did not result from improper motives on the part of the IP, and was enforced only after fair procedures provided in accordance with law and the IBEW Constitution. It contended that, in any event, the plaintiffs' claims were barred by their own unclean hands and failure to exhaust intra-union remedies. The defendant also raised serious jurisdictional defenses.1

The District Judge, after hearing evidence and argument for twenty-two days, held that the strike did require approval of the IP. He further held that there was no sufficient evidence that the IP had been moved by "express or particular malice, i. e. ill-will, spite, a grudge, or a desire to be revenged on a particular person or persons, resulting in a deliberate intention to commit an injury." 203 F.Supp. at 309. Nevertheless he concluded that the IP had acted from "mixed motives" amounting to "legal malice" in forbidding the strike and in revoking the charter. With respect to the fairness of the hearing and the severity of the discipline, the Judge upheld the plaintiffs.

The decree ordered the restoration of the charter of Local 28 and all appurtenant rights and privileges. It enjoined any retrial or future charges against that Local for any past conduct involving the issues in the instant cases, but did not preclude the proper officials of the defendant from pressing charges for such past misconduct against certain members who were the ringleaders in defying the IP's order forbidding the strike. The decree expressly did not enjoin disciplinary action for breaches of the defendant's Constitution occurring after the decree, including continuation of the present strike after reasonable notice from the IP "issued with proper motives." The charter of Local 28, which was organized by IBEW to take over the jurisdiction of Local 28, was ordered revoked. The plaintiffs' claims for damages and counsel fees were denied.

From the order of the District Judge for the restoration of the charter of Local 28 and the revocation of the charter of the newly created substitute, Local Union No. 24, the International appeals. From the denial of additional relief requested by the plaintiffs, they appeal. Local 24 has intervened on appeal claiming that as it was not a party to the action in the court below, that court's decree could not alter its status.


The nature and complexity of the issues raised require not only close examination of the proximately operative facts, but also of the context in which the dispute developed. Particularly is it necessary to study the relationship, within the electrical contracting industry, of the IBEW with its component local unions and individual members, and with the principal employers' association, NE CA. One cannot decide the issue of "breach of duty owed the Local and its members" without first considering carefully what were the respective duties resting in the IP, the Local, and its members.2

Organization and Structure of the IBEW

The IBEW, one of eighteen members of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, is about seventy years old and has 750,000 members organized into almost 1800 component local unions. About 150,000 of these members work in the electrical construction industry. These belong to locals in the United States and Canada having about 800 working agreements with chapters of NECA and a few other employer associations.3

Local 28 received its charter from the IBEW in 1900, and through the years it has served as the uncertified bargaining representative for its members. As of June 1, 1961, it had about 1400 members, most of whom were employed in the electrical construction industry in Baltimore City and the ten nearby Maryland counties. As authorized by the IBEW Constitution, it includes among its members supervisory and managerial personnel who are restricted from voting or attending meetings. (IBEW Const. Art. XVII, § 6). See § 14(a) of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C.A. § 164(a).4 The Local operated a hiring hall and provided a local pension and other benefit funds. Its welfare assets amounted to between one-half and three-quarters of a million dollars.

The organizational structure of the IBEW and the relations, rights and duties therein are pervasively governed by the International Constitution.5 The International Convention (IC), comprised of representatives of the locals, is the ultimate governing body. During intervals between conventions control is in the International Executive Council (IEC), composed of nine members meeting quarterly, the International President and subsidiary officers.

Actually, effective control of IBEW activities is entrusted to the IP who, since 1955, has been Gordon M. Freeman. He is empowered to decide all controversies including questions of law (Art. IV, § 3 (2)); to remove International officers for cause and to fill vacancies by appointment (Art. IV, § 2); to enter into agreements with national or international labor organizations or associations of employers, or with companies doing an interstate business in electrical work to cover the entire jurisdiction of the IBEW (Art. IV, § 3(12)). "The I.P. can, in any situation, delegate the powers of his office to an International Representative, Vice-President or Assistant." (Art. IV, § 4). He may also appoint "a referee who may or may not be a member, to take testimony and report to him." (Art. IV, § 3(11)).

The IP's authority over local unions is notably extensive. (See Art. IV, § 3(8), (9), (10); Arts. XV & XVII). Locals receive their charters only upon his authorization. (Art. XV, § 1). He assigns the locals their jurisdiction, can merge or amalgamate locals or suspend or revoke a local's charter if it does not organize or protect its jurisdiction. (Art. XV, §§ 2-4). In addition, when necessary to protect or advance the interests of its members, the IP can take charge of the affairs of any local, (Art. IV, § 3(9)); he can also remove or suspend local officers for various reasons. (Art. IV, § 3 (10)).


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