United States v. Brennan

Decision Date06 September 1955
Docket NumberCr. No. 8658.
Citation134 F. Supp. 42
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. Sidney L. BRENNAN, Eugene J. Williams, aka Gene Williams, Jack J. Jorgensen, Gerald P. Connelly, aka Jerry Connelly, James W. Moore, and Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, a corporation, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Minnesota



Elmer J. Ryan, St. Paul, Minn., Edw. B. Williams, Washington, D. C., for Brennan.

Irving Nemerov, Minneapolis, Minn., for Connelly.

Melvin H. Siegel, Minneapolis, Minn., for Williams.

Thomas Kachelmacher, Minneapolis, Minn., for Jorgensen.

Pierce Butler, St. Paul, Minn., Faegre & Benson, Minneapolis, Minn., for Archer-Daniels & Moore.

Geo. MacKinnon, St. Paul, Minn., for plaintiff.

DEVITT, District Judge.

The defendants herein are charged with having violated 29 U.S.C.A. § 186 (a), (b) and (d), the Taft-Hartley Law, which makes it unlawful for an employer to pay, and for any representative of employees to receive, money from the employer.

In response to the indictment, the defendants have filed a total of 34 motions. The principal issue raised by the motions is as to the meaning of the term "representative" as used in the Law. The issue is of substantial importance, and has recently been the subject of judicial dissension in the United States courts.

Two schools of thought have arisen as to the meaning of the term "representative." The first view is that expressed by United States Circuit Judge Learned Hand in the dissenting opinion in the case of United States v. Ryan, 225 F.2d 417 decided July 1, 1955, and by United States District Judge Palmieri in the case of United States v. Ryan, 128 F.Supp. 128, decided in the Southern District of New York on January 24, 1955. This view holds that Congress, in using the term "representative" in Section 186 (a) and (b) of the Law, intended to cover, in the ordinary sense of the term, any responsible representative of labor who represents employees employed in an industry affecting commerce.

The second school of thought is represented by a reversal of the Palmieri decision by the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the case of United States v. Ryan, supra, in which the majority opinion was written by Judge Frank (Judge Swan concurring, Judge L. Hand dissenting). The views expressed in this opinion adopt a strict or narrow interpretation of the term "representative" as used in the Taft-Hartley Law. Judge Frank held that the term "representative" was a word of art, having a restricted meaning as applying only to a representative (labor union or individual) who represented the union in a collective bargaining relationship with the employer.

Both the government and the several defendants, in lengthy briefs and by extensive oral argument, dissect the statutes, trace the social and economic history immediately preceding the enactment of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, Taft-Hartley Law, and explore the legislative history and Congressional debates and come out, each with his own conclusion, as to the proper meaning of the term as used by the Congress.

This Court is adequately persuaded that the Hand-Palmieri view of the meaning of the term "representative" is the preferable one, reflective of the language employed, more consonant with the broad Congressional purpose for the enactment of the Law, consistent with the legislative history and, above all, expressive of the plain, common sense of the matter.

The defendants herein are charged with having violated, and some of them, with conspiracy to violate, Section 186 (a), (b) and (d) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 186(a), (b), (d). Those sections read as follows:

"(a) It shall be unlawful for any employer to pay or deliver, or to agree to pay or deliver, any money or other thing of value to any representative of any of his employees who are employed in an industry affecting commerce.
"(b) It shall be unlawful for any representative of any employees who are employed in an industry affecting commerce to receive or accept, or to agree to receive or accept, from the employer of such employees any money or other thing of value.
* * * * * *
"(d) Any person who willfully violates any of the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a misdemeanor and be subject to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for not more than one year, or both."

The defendants move to dismiss the indictments on the theory that, assuming the payment of money as charged, it was not paid by the employer to "any representative of any of his employees". So the basic issue is whether or not the defendants Brennan, Williams and Jorgensen fall within the quoted clause.1

The indictment specifies that each of these named defendants is a labor union official occupying various positions which on their face, import positions of importance and authority, of unions, the members of which are employed by the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company.2

At first blush, therefore, it appears that these labor leaders are responsible representatives of unions, the members of which are employed by the corporate defendant in (admittedly) an industry affecting commerce.

The indictment consists of a conspiracy charge in Count 1, supported by 19 overt acts, and four substantive Counts against the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Brennan, Williams and Jorgensen. The essence of the facts alleged is that between approximately January 1, 1953 and November 8, 1954, the employer, Archer-Daniels-Midland, through its vice president, James W. Moore, paid $5,000 to Brennan, Williams, Jorgensen and Connelly, at or near the same time that Moore, acting for the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, had a conversation with Brennan and Connelly concerning the possibility of Brennan and Connelly inducing the Archer-Daniels-Midland employees at the Southeast Minneapolis Oil Mill and Elevator to switch their membership from the United Mine Workers Union to the Local Union affiliated with the Brotherhood of Teamsters. The money was paid by one George Rutman to Gerald J. Connelly (son of Gerald P. Connelly, defendant) in the form of a check payable to "National Sales Representative," a fictitious and pretended business entity, and that said Gerald J. Connelly in turn paid the defendants Brennan, Williams and Jorgensen each $1,000, Gerald P. Connelly $900, and presumably retained the remaining $1,000 for himself. At a later date George Rutman was reimbursed the $5,000 by the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company.3

An apparent purpose of Section 186(a), (b) and (d) from a reading of it and also from a reading of the new section added to the preamble to the so-called Wagner Act (reenacted by the 80th Congress) by the Taft-Hartley Law, is to preserve the integrity of the labor-management relationship by prohibiting bribery, extortion or any form of dishonesty as between employer and employees.4

The so-called "Findings and declaration of policy" set out in Section 151, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151, contains this addition to the former preamble, which significantly includes an allegation of past improper activities of some union officers, and a statement of intention to eliminate such practices:

"Experience has further demonstrated that certain practices by some labor organizations, their officers, and members have the intent or the necessary effect of burdening or obstructing commerce by preventing the free flow of goods in such commerce through strikes and other forms of industrial unrest or through concerted activities which impair the interest of the public in the free flow of such commerce. The elimination of such practices is a necessary condition to the assurance of the rights herein guaranteed." (Italics supplied.)

If, as is alleged, the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company through its vice president, James W. Moore, paid $5,000 to these labor leaders of employees then working for the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, at a time when the employer had an apparent interest in a "switch" of union affiliation, in the secret and circuitous manner stated, and not for a legitimate business purpose, it appears that such an act is of the kind contemplated to be prohibited by the Taft-Hartley Law, and that the indictment which alleges these facts states a cause of action.

But all of the defendants urge that when the Congress used the term "any representative of" employees, it did not mean that it covered "any representative", but only a special class of representative, to wit, one who was at the time the official bargaining representative of the union. In support of this view they refer us to the definition of the term contained in 29 U.S.C.A. § 152. It provides that:

"The term `representatives' includes any individual or labor organization."

As a passing comment, it is significant to me, in searching for Congressional intent, that this definition says that the term representative includes any individual or labor organization; it does not say that it means only an individual or labor organization, thus indicating a purpose to use the term in a broad sense. See State v. Standard Oil Co., 1912, 61 Or. 438, 123 P. 40.

With this statutory definition in mind, defendants urge that Congress contemplated prohibiting only the union itself (or in rare cases an individual acting in the same capacity), which conducts collective bargaining, from accepting money or a thing of value from the employer; the prohibition does not extend to Union officers or any other kind of representative. To buttress this contention they discuss the sense in which the term is used in subsequent sections of the Law, particularly Sections 157, 158 and 159.

It is true that in those sections of the Law the term is employed in references to a representative who is engaged in collective bargaining activities. But this is only natural because one of the principal purposes of the Taft-Hartley Law is to...

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