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Mamula v. United Steelworkers of America

June 5, 1962


Author: Staley

Before KALODNER, STALEY, and HASTIE, Circuit Judges.

STALEY, C.J.: The plaintiff, Nicholas Mamula, commenced this action under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA"), 29 U.S.C.A. § 401 et seq., alleging that certain of the rights guaranteed to him thereunder were violated by defendants, United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO ("union"), and its Secretary-Treasurer, I.W. Abel. At all times relevant, plaintiff was president of Local Union 1211 of District 20 of the union. The union is divided into a number of geographically defined "districts." Its constitution provides that each local shall have the right to nominate a candidate for district director, and nomination by any five locals within a district shall entitle the nominee to be placed on the district ballot. The union's constitution, however, does not prescribe the procedure for selecting nominees. This is left to the locals.

Nomination meetings were held by locals in District 20 in November and December of 1960. Plaintiff's name was not placed on the ballot for district director, although by letter his counsel requested the union to do so. Attached to the letter were affidavits by members of six different locals within District 20. Each one indicated that plaintiff's name had been placed in nomination for district director at each of the respective local's nomination meeting. The record showed, however, that plaintiff was defeated. Before the actual election for district director was held, plaintiff filed a complaint in the district court, alleging that defendants had denied him an opportunity to submit his name for candidacy to the membership and that the union's constitution and bylaws fail to prescribe procedures to be followed in selecting a nominee. This he said, constituted a violation of Title I, §§ 101(a)(1)(2) (4) and 102, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 411(a)(1)(2) (4) and 412 of the LMRDA, and requested a temporary injunction or restraining order enjoining the election of a district director, and that the court direct the union to place his name on the district ballot. The district court denied the request, and the election was held. The matter came on for full hearing, and thereafter the district court entered an order setting the election aside, under Title I, § 101(a)(1) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C.A. § 411(a)(1).*fn1 It is from this order that defendants have appealed. More particularly, the district court found that the union's constitution was "lacking and deficient in failing to set forth nominating procedures for its International officers in order that members' rights under Section 101 will be protected." Some of the particular inadequacies listed by the district court were that the union hall, where voting was conducted, had a capacity of 600, while Local 1211 had a membership in excess of 11,000. Further, that the nomination and voting took place at one meeting, although at the time set for the meeting one-third of the membership was at work and unable to attend.

The defendants first contend that Title IV, §§ 401-403 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 481-483, and not Title I, governs the procedures for nominating and electing officers and sets forth exclusive remedies for violation of these procedures, and that under Title IV the plaintiff lacks standing to bring this action. A reading of Titles I and IV in conjunction with the legislative history of the LMRDA, and consideration of the pertinent decisions that have been rendered, compel us to conclude that this contention is correct.

Title I guarantees union members an equal opportunity to vote, while Title IV prescribes the procedures that are to be followed in nominating and electing union officers. It also, just as clearly, prescribes the remedies available to a union member where these procedures are not followed. The present Title I was not in the LMRDA when it left Committee.*fn2 Title I, frequently referred to as the bill of rights section, was introduced as an amendment to the LMRDA by Senator McClellan who, during debate, referred to § 101(a)(1), saying:

"The select committee found time and again the denial of the right to vote, the denial of the right to work, the denial of the right to have a voice, the denial of the basic human rights on which our very freedom was founded."*fn3

The desire to protect the fundamental right of a union member to vote was again apparent when Senator McClellan told the Senate:

"* * * Obviously we give the union members some rights in the bill, because we insert in the bill a criminal penalty in the case of those who violate the rights given the union members. I simply propose that we define and describe those rights, which are basic, and which every citizen of the country is entitled to. I believe we should elucidate on this point."*fn4

Earlier he referred to it in debate and said:

"If this bill should be enacted into law, it would bring to the conduct of union affairs and to union members the reality of some of the freedoms from oppression that we enjoy as citizens by virtue of the Constitution of the United States, which incidently does not make an exception for union members."*fn5

Before he offered the amendment containing the bill of rights section, Senator McClellan introduced S. 1137.*fn6 The proposed bill contained a bill of rights provision which expressly directed that nominations and elections be conducted in accordance with section 302 thereof. That section, in turn, was in substance similar to the provisions of Title IV of the LMRDA.

On February 6, 1959, Senator Mundt introduced S. 1002, which was directed specifically at providing democratic procedures in the election of officers. That bill contained detailed provisions dealing with union nominations and elections, and was considered by the Senate side by side with the McClellan bill of rights amendment, and was not viewed as being incompatible with it. The Mundt bill did not pass the Senate. Thereafter, the McClellan amendment was replaced by the so-called Kuchel substitute that passed the Senate.*fn7 Debate on the substitute made it clear that it was in the main a reenactment of the McClellan amendment, which is now Title I.*fn8

Title IV, on the other hand, deals comprehensively with the procedure for nominating and electing union officials. It would be inappropriate to set it out in extenso here, so we shall summarize its provisions. Section 401 prescribes the frequency of elections for certain enumerated officers, distinguishing between local and international officers, and requires use of a secret ballot. It goes on to require that balloting shall be by members in good standing or at a convention of delegates selected by ballot.*fn9 Further, a union is under a duty to comply with all reasonable requests by candidates for union office to distribute by mail or otherwise at the candidate's expense campaign literature in aid of such person's candidacy to all members in good standing and to refrain from discrimination in favor of or against any candidate with respect to the use of lists of members.Also, every bona fide candidate has the right, which he can exercise once within a 30-day period prior to an election of a labor organization in which he is a candidate, to inspect a list containing the names and last known addresses of all members of the labor organization. The union is under an obligation to provide adequate safeguards to insure a fair election, including the right of any candidate to have an observer at the polls and at the counting of ballots.*fn10 Reasonable opportunities must be given members to nominate, and every member in good standing shall be eligible to be a candidate and to hold office, and shall have the right to vote for or otherwise support the candidate or candidates of his choice without being subject to penalty or discipline. Every member is entitled to advance notice of an election. Detailed procedures are provided for retaining ballots and other records, and the election must be conducted in accordance with the bylaws and constitution of the union, except to the extent that they are inconsistent with Title IV.*fn11 The credentials of delegates to a convention that elects officers, as well as the minutes of the convention and other records of the convention ...

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