Usery v. Local Union No. 639 Intern. Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Ind., No. 74-1851

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore WRIGHT, LEVENTHAL and WILKEY; Opinion for the Court filed by LEVENTHAL; LEVENTHAL
Parties93 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2113, 177 U.S.App.D.C. 222, 79 Lab.Cas. P 11,570 William J. USERY, Jr., Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants, v. LOCAL UNION NO. 639 INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, Ind.
Decision Date27 August 1976
Docket NumberNo. 74-1851

Page 369

543 F.2d 369
93 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2113, 177 U.S.App.D.C. 222,
79 Lab.Cas. P 11,570
William J. USERY, Jr., Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants,
v.
LOCAL UNION NO. 639 INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS,
CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, Ind.
No. 74-1851.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Nov. 26, 1975.
Decided Aug. 27, 1976.

John V. Long and Lester M. Bridgeman, Washington, D. C., for appellants.

Harold A. Mouzon, Jr., Atty., U. S. Dept. of Labor with whom Morton Hollander, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., was on the brief for appellee Dunlop.

Solomon G. Lippman, Washington, D. C., with whom Thomas J. Hart, Washington, D. C., was on the brief for appellee Local 639 IBT.

Michael H. Gottesman and Robert M. Weinberg, Washington, D. C., filed a brief on behalf of United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO as amicus curiae.

Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., Washington, D. C., filed a brief on behalf of Edward Sadlowski as amicus curiae.

Before WRIGHT, LEVENTHAL and WILKEY, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the Court filed by LEVENTHAL, Circuit Judge.

LEVENTHAL, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from two orders of the District Court, entered on June 24, 1974, in an action brought by the Secretary of Labor (Secretary), appellee here, under Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. § 481 et seq. The first order granted final judgment, without evidentiary hearing, approving the Secretary's certification of the results of an election conducted under his supervision by defendant local union, appellee here. The court decreed that the persons named in the certification were the duly elected officials of the union, and appeal is brought by intervenors, defeated candidates who were not certified. The second order denied the motion of those intervenor-plaintiffs for an award of attorney's fees, costs and suit money. The Secretary, while defending the District Court's approval of his certification, takes no position on the order denying the award of fees. The case presents significant questions of interpretation of Title IV, as to the court's role at the remedial stage of an enforcement suit to set aside an unlawful union election. We affirm the District Court's judgment approving the Secretary's certification, but reverse and remand the case on the attorney's fees issue.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statutory Scheme

In response to findings of extensive corruption and improper fiscal and electoral practices by labor unions, 1 Congress passed the LMRDA in 1959. That law injected into the pre-existing scheme of self-regulation an unprecedented dose of federal regulation of the internal affairs of labor organizations. Title IV, set out in the Appendix,

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implements a federal guarantee of "free and democratic unionism." Section 401 of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 481, is a core provision. It establishes procedural safeguards for the conduct of union elections, and for the exercise of candidacy and voting rights by union members. However, Congress wished to maximize union democracy at minimal cost to union institutional effectiveness. Hence it vested primary enforcement responsibility for Title IV in the Secretary of Labor and provided an exclusive post-election remedy under the Secretary's stewardship. Certain LMRDA provisions concerning pre-election union conduct, 2 including section 401(c), 3 are enforceable in suits brought by individual union members. "Provisions concerning the conduct of the election itself, however, may be enforced only according to post-election procedures specified" in section 402, 29 U.S.C. § 482. Dunlop v. Bachowski, 421 U.S. 560, 566, 95 S.Ct. 1851, 1857, 44 L.Ed.2d 377 (1975). 4 Those procedures are as follows:

A union member with a grievance must first invoke his internal union remedies. If he is unable to obtain a satisfactory resolution within three months of the contested election, he files a complaint with the Secretary. If upon investigation the Secretary finds probable cause to believe a violation of Title IV has occurred and has not been remedied, he is authorized 5 to bring suit in federal district court, within sixty days of the complaint, 6 to set aside the election. If the court determines upon a preponderance of the evidence "that the violation . . . may have affected the outcome of an election," it is directed to "declare the election, if any, to be void and direct the conduct of a new election under supervision of the Secretary and, so far as lawful and practicable," in conformity with the union's constitution and bylaws. After the supervised election is held, "(t)he Secretary shall promptly certify to the court the names of the persons elected, and the court shall thereupon enter a decree declaring such persons to be the officers of the labor organization."

B. The Instant Case

Daniel George and Phillip Feaster, candidates for union office, were defeated in the regular election held January 23, 1972 by defendant Teamsters Local 639. After unsuccessful exhaustion of internal remedies, they filed a timely complaint with the Secretary. On September 20, 1972, the Secretary filed suit under section 402, attacking the election held by Local 639 as invalid because the union had (a) failed to notify its members of the election, (b) used an invalid attendance requirement for candidate eligibility,

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and (c) made use of union funds to promote the candidacy of the incumbents. George and Feaster intervened as plaintiffs in support of the Secretary's complaint, under the authority of Trbovich v. United Mine Workers, 404 U.S. 528, 92 S.Ct. 630, 30 L.Ed.2d 686 (1972). 7

On August 21, 1973, the District Court granted the motions for summary judgment filed by the Secretary and by the intervenor-plaintiffs. The court directed defendant to conduct a new election of officers under the Secretary's supervision. Defendant appealed, but on March 8, 1974, this court affirmed the grant of summary judgment, Brennan v. Local Union 639, Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters, 161 U.S.App.D.C. 173, 494 F.2d 1092 (1974).

Meanwhile, on December 16, 1973, after oral argument in this court, the ballots for the rerun election were cast, although they were not counted until March 18, 1974. Intervenor-plaintiffs and other members of Local 639 were dissatisfied with the outcome. On March 26, 1974, they filed with the Secretary of Labor a protest of the supervised election. The Secretary investigated the protest, and rejected it. On June 12, 1974, he certified the results of the rerun to the District Court. On June 24, 1974, the District Court issued the two orders on appeal here.

II. THE JUDGMENT APPROVING THE SECRETARY'S CERTIFICATION

Before we can determine on the merits whether the District Court properly upheld the Secretary's certification, we must confront the threshold questions of reviewability, standing and scope of judicial review.

A. Reviewability 8

Section 402 directs that "(t)he Secretary shall promptly certify to the court the names of the persons elected, and the court shall thereupon enter a decree declaring such persons to be the officers of the labor organization." The question arises whether this seemingly mandatory language identifies the court's role as being of a non-judicial ministerial nature, to "rubber stamp" the Secretary's certification by issuing a decree incorporating the Secretary's determination as to winners of the contest.

We adopt the view of Judge Gibbons, writing for the Third Circuit, that section 402 when read in its entirety "imposes upon the court a judicial obligation with respect to enforcement of the Secretary's certification." Hodgson v. Carpenters Resilient Flooring Local Union No. 2212,457 F.2d 1364, 1368 (3d Cir. 1972) (emphasis supplied.) 9 The court's function is to attach its imprimatur to the Secretary's

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certification only if it is satisfied that the supervised election has been conducted in conformance with legal requirements. The Secretary's prayer for relief asks the court to direct the conduct of the rerun election "in accordance with the provisions of (Title IV) and such rules and regulations as the Secretary may prescribe." Under the statute, the court directs the supervised rerun "so far as lawful and practicable, in conformity with the constitution and bylaws of the labor organization." Section 402(c), 29 U.S.C. § 482(c). Thus, the statute confers an independent responsibility on the reviewing court, one which requires the aid of the Secretary but which cannot be discharged by mechanical ratification of his determination. 10 Moreover, a court's order "designating elected officials of a labor organization shall be appealable in the same manner as the final judgment in a civil action . . .." Section 402(d), 29 U.S.C. § 482(d). Appealability entails reviewability. This permits appellate review at the behest of both the labor organization 11 and candidates complaining of the manner in which the Secretary-supervised election was held.

In Dunlop v. Bachowski, the Supreme Court held that even the Secretary's initial decision whether or not to bring a section 402 action to set aside the union election was judicially reviewable, on an "arbitrary and capricious" standard. The Court declared that the Secretary "failed to make a showing of 'clear and convincing evidence' that Congress meant to prohibit all judicial review of his decision." 421 U.S. at 568, 95 S.Ct. at 1858. It follows that the Secretary's determination as to the validity of the election held under his supervision is also subject to judicial review. In Bachowski a reviewing court was interposed even in a case of failure to take action, where the Secretary has broad latitude because of his "special responsibility" to protect unions from frivolous litigation, 12 and the situation presents sensitive problems akin to judicial review of prosecutorial discretion. 13 Where, as here, the Secretary has...

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44 practice notes
  • Erkins v. Bryan, Nos. 84-7455
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • April 8, 1986
    ...has implicitly reaffirmed such fee-shifting in post-Alyeska cases. See, e.g., Usery v. Local 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 543 F.2d 369 (D.C.Cir.1976) (noting that Alyeska did not impair the common benefit theory used in LMRDA cases); Monzillo v. Biller, 735 F.2d 1456 (D.C.Ci......
  • Brennan v. United Steelworkers of America AFL-CIO-CLC (Dist. 15) (Dist. 31), AFL-CIO-CLC
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 20, 1977
    ...Circuit in Usery v. Local Union 639 International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Ind., 543 F.2d 369 (D.C.Cir.1976) (hereinafter Local 639 ), cert. denied sub nom. Local Union No. 639 v. Marshall, 429 U.S. 1123, 97 S.Ct. 1159, 51 L.Ed.2d 573 (1977)......
  • Doyle v. Turner, No. 86 CIV 2792 (CSH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 7, 2000
    ...107 S.Ct. 74, 93 L.Ed.2d 30 (1986) (Title IV); Catlett v. Local 7370, 69 F.3d 254 (8th Cir.1995) (Title I); Usery v. Local Union No. 639, 543 F.2d 369 (D.C.Cir.1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1123, 97 S.Ct. 1159, 51 L.Ed.2d 573 (1977) (Title V); and McDonald v. Oliver, 525 F.2d 1217 (5th Cir.......
  • Solis v. Laborer's Int'l Union of North Am., Civ. No. 09–00512 ACK–BMK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • April 29, 2010
    ...for conformance with the Act.” Usery v. Local Union No. 639 Intern. Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of Am. Ind., 543 F.2d 369, 387–88 (D.C.Cir.1976). In this case, instead of bringing a civil action against Local 368 pursuant to Section 402, 29 U.S.C. § 482(b)-(c),......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
44 cases
  • Erkins v. Bryan, Nos. 84-7455
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • April 8, 1986
    ...has implicitly reaffirmed such fee-shifting in post-Alyeska cases. See, e.g., Usery v. Local 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 543 F.2d 369 (D.C.Cir.1976) (noting that Alyeska did not impair the common benefit theory used in LMRDA cases); Monzillo v. Biller, 735 F.2d 1456 (D.C.Ci......
  • Brennan v. United Steelworkers of America AFL-CIO-CLC (Dist. 15) (Dist. 31), AFL-CIO-CLC
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • April 20, 1977
    ...Circuit in Usery v. Local Union 639 International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Ind., 543 F.2d 369 (D.C.Cir.1976) (hereinafter Local 639 ), cert. denied sub nom. Local Union No. 639 v. Marshall, 429 U.S. 1123, 97 S.Ct. 1159, 51 L.Ed.2d 573 (1977)......
  • Doyle v. Turner, No. 86 CIV 2792 (CSH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • March 7, 2000
    ...107 S.Ct. 74, 93 L.Ed.2d 30 (1986) (Title IV); Catlett v. Local 7370, 69 F.3d 254 (8th Cir.1995) (Title I); Usery v. Local Union No. 639, 543 F.2d 369 (D.C.Cir.1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1123, 97 S.Ct. 1159, 51 L.Ed.2d 573 (1977) (Title V); and McDonald v. Oliver, 525 F.2d 1217 (5th Cir.......
  • Solis v. Laborer's Int'l Union of North Am., Civ. No. 09–00512 ACK–BMK.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • April 29, 2010
    ...for conformance with the Act.” Usery v. Local Union No. 639 Intern. Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of Am. Ind., 543 F.2d 369, 387–88 (D.C.Cir.1976). In this case, instead of bringing a civil action against Local 368 pursuant to Section 402, 29 U.S.C. § 482(b)-(c),......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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