Wirtz v. Hotel, Motel and Club Employees Union, Local, No. 891

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRENNAN
Citation391 U.S. 492,88 S.Ct. 1743,20 L.Ed.2d 763
Decision Date03 June 1968
Docket NumberNo. 891
PartiesW. Willard WIRTZ, Secretary of Labor, United States Dept. of Labor, Petitioner, v. HOTEL, MOTEL AND CLUB EMPLOYEES UNION, LOCAL 6

391 U.S. 492
88 S.Ct. 1743
20 L.Ed.2d 763
W. Willard WIRTZ, Secretary of Labor, United States Dept. of Labor, Petitioner,

v.

HOTEL, MOTEL AND CLUB EMPLOYEES UNION, LOCAL 6.

No. 891.
Argued April 29, 1968.
Decided June 3, 1968.

Page 493

Harris Weinstein, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Sidney E. Cohn, New York City, for respondent.

Laurence Gold, Washington, D.C., for American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, as amicus curiae.

Mr. Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This action was brought by petitioner, the Secretary of Labor, in the District Court for the Southern District of New York for a judgment declaring void the May 1965 election of officers conducted by respondent Local 6, and ordering a new election under the Secretary's supervision. The action is authoritzed by § 402(b) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 73 Stat. 534, 29 U.S.C. § 482(b). The Secretary charged that a bylaw of the Local which limited eligibility for major elective offices to union members who

Page 494

hold or have previously held elective office1 was not a 'reasonable qualification' within the intendment of the provision of § 401(e) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 481(e), that 'every member in good standing shall be eligible to be a candidate and to hold office (subject to * * * reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed) * * *.'2 He charged further that enforcement of the bylaw 'may have affected the outcome' of the election within the meaning of § 402(c), 29 U.S.C. § 482(c).3

Page 495

The District Court, after hearing, entered a judgment which declared that the prior-office requirement was not reasonable, but also declared that it could not be found that its enforcement in violation of § 401(e) 'may have affected the outcome' of the election. The court therefore refused to set aside the May 1965 election and to order a new election under the Secretary's supervision, but did grant an injunction against enforcement of the bylaw in future elections. 265 F.Supp. 510. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the provision of the judgment which declared the bylaw not to be reasonable and its enforcement violative of § 401(e), and set aside the injunction.4 The court found it unnecessary in that circumstance to decide whether enforcement of the bylaw at the election may have affected the outcome. 381 F.2d 500. We granted certiorari. 390 U.S. 919, 88 S.Ct. 852, 19 L.Ed.2d 979. We hold that the restriction was not reasonable and that its enforcement may have affected the outcome of the election. The Secretary is therefore entitled to an order directing a new election under his supervision.

Page 496

I.

Title IV is one of the seven titles of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). Earlier this Term, we observed that 'Title IV's special function in furthering the overall goals of the LMRDA is to insure 'free and democratic' elections. The legislative history shows that Congress weighed how best to legislate against revealed abuses in union elections without departing needlessly from its long-standing policy against unnecessary governmental intrusion into internal union affairs.' Wirtz v. Local 153, Glass Bottle Blowers Assn., 389 U.S. 463, 470 471, 88 S.Ct. 643, 647—648, 19 L.Ed.2d 705. The Court of Appeals, however, in considering the reasonableness of the bylaw, emphasized only the congressional concern not to intervene unnecessarily in internal union affairs, stating that '(i)n deciding the issue of reasonableness we must keep in mind the fact that the Act did not purport to take away from labor unions the governance of their own internal affairs and hand that governance over either to the courts or to the Secretary of Labor. The Act strictly limits official interference in the internal affairs of unions.' 381 F.2d, at 504. But this emphasis overlooks the fact that the congressional concern to avoid unnecessary intervention was balanced against the policy expressed in the Act to protect the public interest by assuring that union elections would be conducted in accordance with democratic principles. As we said in Wirtz v. Local 153, Glass Bottle Blowers Assn., supra, 389 U.S. at 473, 88 S.Ct. at 649, decided after the Court of Appeals decided this case, '* * * Congress, although committed to minimal intervention, was obviously equally committed to making that intervention, once warranted, effective in carrying out the basic aim of Title IV.' Thus, 'the freedom allowed unions to run their own elections was reserved for those elections which conform to the democratic prin-

Page 497

ciples written into § 401.' Id., at 471, 88 S.Ct. at 648. In a companion case, Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125, Laborers' Int'l Union, etc., 389 U.S. 477, 483, 88 S.Ct. 639, 642, 19 L.Ed.2d 716, we said that the provisions of § 401 are 'necessary protections of the public interest as well as of the rights and interests of union members.' In sum, in § 401 '* * * Congress emphatically asserted a vital public interest in assuring free and democratic union elections that transcends the narrower interest of the complaining union member.' Wirtz v. Local 153, Glass Bottle Blowers Assn., supra, 389 U.S. at 475, 88 S.Ct. at 650.

A pervasive theme in the congressional debates about the election provisions was that revelations of corruption, dictatorial practices and racketeering in some unions investigated by Congress5 indicated a need to protect the rights of rank-and-file members to participate fully in the operation of their union through processes of democratic self-government, and, through the election process, to keep the union leadership responsive to the membership. This theme is made explicit in the reports of the Labor Committees of both Houses of Congress.6 It is

Page 498

reflected in the discrete provisions of Title IV and also of Title I, the 'Bill of Rights' for union members. 29 U.S.C. § 411. Title IV, and particularly § 401, was the vehicle by which Congress expressed its policy. That section prescribes standards to govern the conduct of union elections: International union elections must be held at least once every five years and local elections at least once every three years. Elections must be by secret ballot. Specific provisions insure equality of treatment in the mailing of campaign literature; require adequate safeguards to insure a fair election; guarantee a 'reasonable opportunity' for the nomination of candidates, the right to vote, and the right of every member in good standing to be a candidate subject to 'reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed,' the guarantee with which we are concerned in this case. 29 U.S.C. § 481(a)—(e). Furthermore, although Congress emphatically gave unions the primary responsibility for enforcing compliance with the Act, Congress also settled enforcement authority on the Secretary of Labor to insure that serious violations would not go unremedied and the public interest

Page 499

go unvindicated. See Wirtz v. Local 153, Glass Bottle Blowers Assn., supra; Wirtz v. Laborers' Int'l Union, etc., supra; Calhoon v. Harvey, 379 U.S. 134, 85 S.Ct. 292, 13 L.Ed.2d 190.7

Congress plainly did not intend that the authorization in § 401(e) of 'reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed' should be given a broad reach. The contrary is implicit in the legislative history of the section and in its wording that 'every member in good standing shall be eligible to be a candidate and to hold office * * *.' This conclusion is buttressed by other provisions of the Act which stress freedom of members to nominate candidates for office. 8 Unduly restrictive candidacy qualifications can result in the abuses of entrenched leadership that the LMRDA was expressly enacted to curb. The check of democratic elections as a preventive measure is seriously impaired by candidacy qualifications which substantially deplete the ranks of those who might run in opposition to incumbents.

It follows therefore that whether the Local 6 bylaw is a 'reasonable qualification' within the meaning of § 401(e) must be measured in terms of its consistency with the Act's command to unions to conduct 'free and democratic' union elections.

Page 500

II.

Local 6 has 27,000 members, assets of $2,300.000, and assets in welfare, pension, and medical funds of some $30,000,000. The Local represents bartenders, maids, dining room employees, and kitchen employees of hotels, motels, and private clubs in New York. It is structured into six geographic districts, each with five craft departments, for hotel and motel employees, and a seventh district for private clubs. The various crafts have their own representatives in each hotel, motel, or club. An Assembly, composed in 1965 of 372 members, meets four times a year and is the basic representative body. The delegates are elected from among the craft units within each of the seven districts on the basis of one delegate for each 75 members of a craft. The Assembly in turn elects from its membership an Executive Board on the basis of one board member for each 500 members, augmented by principal officers and by nonvoting business agents, 31 of whom are elected from the seven districts and others who are appointed by the Assembly. The Executive Board meets monthly. There is also an Administrative Board made up of, in addition to general officers, seven district vice-presidents elected from the districts and elected or appointed delegates to the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. Finally there are four paid full-time general officers—President, Secretary-Treasurer, General Organizer, and Recording Secretary, all elected by the membership at large. Terms of office are three years. In practice the affairs of the Local are administered by the general officers and the Administrative Board.

The bylaw under challenge9 limited eligibility for positions as a general officer, district vice-president or...

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185 practice notes
  • United States v. Burhoe, Nos. 15-1542 15-1612.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • September 8, 2017
    ...to the membership.’ " Harrington v. Chao, 372 F.3d 52, 54 (1st Cir. 2004) (quoting Wirtz v. Hotel, Motel & Club Emps. Union, Local 6, 391 U.S. 492, 497-98, 88 S.Ct. 1743, 20 L.Ed.2d 763 (1968) ).19 The relevant provision reads:The Employer will take the availability for the following day an......
  • Sellers v. Regents of University of California, No. 23581.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 17, 1970
    ...pursuant to appellee's motion. Our jurisdiction to hear the appeal is not questioned. Wilson v. City of Port Lavaca, 391 U.S. 352, 88 S.Ct. 1743, 20 L.Ed.2d 636 (1968); Schackman v. Arnebergh, 387 U.S. 427, 87 S.Ct. 1622, 18 L.Ed.2d 865 Treating the dismissal of the district court as a summ......
  • Local No 82, Furniture and Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers Warehousemen and Packers v. Crowley, No. 82-432
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 12, 1984
    ...389 U.S., at 473-475, 88 S.Ct., at 649-650; Wirtz v. Laborers, 389 U.S., at 482-484, 88 S.Ct., at 641-643; Wirtz v. Hotel Employees, 391 U.S. 492, 88 S.Ct. 1743, 20 L.Ed.2d 763 (1968). At the same time, we noted that another primary goal of Congress was to maximize the " 'amount of independ......
  • Usery v. Local Union No. 639 Intern. Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Ind., No. 74-1851
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 27, 1976
    ...not susceptible of quantification, which are committed in the course of an unsupervised election. Wirtz v. Hotel Employees Local 6, 391 U.S. 492, 505-09, 88 S.Ct. 743, 20 L.Ed.2d 763 (1968). "Here, however, the Secretary's supervision of the (rerun election) establishes a presumption of fai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
185 cases
  • United States v. Burhoe, Nos. 15-1542 15-1612.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • September 8, 2017
    ...to the membership.’ " Harrington v. Chao, 372 F.3d 52, 54 (1st Cir. 2004) (quoting Wirtz v. Hotel, Motel & Club Emps. Union, Local 6, 391 U.S. 492, 497-98, 88 S.Ct. 1743, 20 L.Ed.2d 763 (1968) ).19 The relevant provision reads:The Employer will take the availability for the following day an......
  • Sellers v. Regents of University of California, No. 23581.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • September 17, 1970
    ...pursuant to appellee's motion. Our jurisdiction to hear the appeal is not questioned. Wilson v. City of Port Lavaca, 391 U.S. 352, 88 S.Ct. 1743, 20 L.Ed.2d 636 (1968); Schackman v. Arnebergh, 387 U.S. 427, 87 S.Ct. 1622, 18 L.Ed.2d 865 Treating the dismissal of the district court as a summ......
  • Local No 82, Furniture and Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers Warehousemen and Packers v. Crowley, No. 82-432
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 12, 1984
    ...389 U.S., at 473-475, 88 S.Ct., at 649-650; Wirtz v. Laborers, 389 U.S., at 482-484, 88 S.Ct., at 641-643; Wirtz v. Hotel Employees, 391 U.S. 492, 88 S.Ct. 1743, 20 L.Ed.2d 763 (1968). At the same time, we noted that another primary goal of Congress was to maximize the " 'amount of independ......
  • Usery v. Local Union No. 639 Intern. Broth. of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Ind., No. 74-1851
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 27, 1976
    ...not susceptible of quantification, which are committed in the course of an unsupervised election. Wirtz v. Hotel Employees Local 6, 391 U.S. 492, 505-09, 88 S.Ct. 743, 20 L.Ed.2d 763 (1968). "Here, however, the Secretary's supervision of the (rerun election) establishes a presumption of fai......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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