The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHEN
A union business agent, summarily dismissed from office by the president of his union, sues for back wages and reinstatement. Initially required is a determination of whether jurisdiction under Sections 102
of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, 29 U.S.C. §§ 412 and 529, is properly posited and whether a cause of action is stated thereunder. The dispute has been submitted upon stipulation, pleadings, depositions and briefs.
Plaintiff, Dominick H. DeCampli, alleges that on August 7, 1964, he was summarily discharged as business agent of the defendant-union, Truck Drivers and Helpers Local No. 676 (Union), by its President, defendant John P. Greeley (Greeley), in violation of those rights guaranteed to him by the "Bill of Rights"
and "Free Speech Rights"
sections of the Act. Specifically, he maintains that his discharge, as an officer of the Union resulted from his outspoken remarks at a union meeting on July 27, 1964, opposing Greeley's request for the support with union funds of two business agents of the union, Greeley's appointees, who were under Federal indictment charging them with illegal union activities, and for the further reason that thereafter Greeley expressed his belief that the plaintiff was secretly meeting with other members in advocating a candidate for president in opposition to Greeley. Plaintiff contends that, despite the protection of the Act prohibiting reprisal for expressing such opinions on business matters properly before the union meeting, he was dismissed; further, he was denied due process in that he was not served with written specific charges, nor given a reasonable time to prepare his defense, nor was he afforded a full and fair hearing, all, he submits, in violation of Title I, Section 101(a)(5) of the Act.
Since the filing of the complaint, it was stipulated by all parties that:
"DiCampli [sic] was removed from the position of appointed Business Agent by the appointing authority, Greeley, President of Local No. 676, because he believed that DiCampli [sic] was engaging in activities, together with other appointed Business Agents, in secretly meeting in order to select and elect a candidate of their choice to oppose and defeat the incumbent President, Greeley, at the elections of officers of Local No. 676 to be held in November of 1965, and to establish and present union policy positions contra to those of Greeley.
"DiCampli [sic] received a salary as appointed Business Agent of $240.00 per week. Upon his termination by Local No. 676, DiCampli [sic] was afforded the opportunity to return to his former job as a truck driver with his former employer at a weekly wage of $120.00 per week. It is agreed that should the Court find in favor of the Plaintiff, that his damages will be in the sum of $120.00 per week for the period from August 7, 1964, the date of his termination, to December 31, 1965, the date of the expiration of the terms of all elected officers of Local No. 676."
We note that the above stipulation recites Greeley's belief of DeCampli's alleged disloyalty. This does not establish as a fact that his belief was correct. It merely assigns his reason for the plaintiff's dismissal.
Among the undisputed facts are these: Plaintiff DeCampli was appointed as business agent in January 1961 by the Union's President, Greeley, pursuant to Article IX, Section 7, of the Constitution of the Local Union, which provided at that time, as well as now, that:
Thereafter, Plaintiff (as well as Thomas B. Kelly, Jr., in a companion case, Civil No. 1205-65) was discharged by Greeley upon the authority of Article IX, Section 8 of the Constitution of the Local Union, which provides:
"[The President] shall have the power to remove such assistants from employment and there shall be no appeal from such dismissal, even though such assistants may also hold an office in the Local Union."
Upon his dismissal, plaintiff appealed to President Backhus of the Teamsters Joint Council No. 53 and to President Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America A.F. of L., both of whom denied any power or authority to review the action of Greeley.
Thus, the issue presented is whether the "Bill of Rights" provisions and the "Free Speech" section of the LMRDA, supra, prohibit a labor union, or its chief executive officer, from discharging an officer, or employee of the Union for allegedly exercising membership rights and, if so, does the Act provide for a federal cause of action.
The answer is in the affirmative. The plaintiff is protected by the Act, and reprisal by dismissal for exercising such rights is prohibited, for which he may maintain an action here.
As to the jurisdictional issue, it must be observed that the assertion of a substantial claim under a federal statute, as here, gives a United States Court jurisdiction of that claim, even though it may determine ultimately that the claim fails, either because no cause of action on which relief could be granted was alleged, or for want of proof. Hughes v. Local 11, Int'l Ass'n of Bridge ...