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REICH v. LOCAL 890

June 25, 1996

ROBERT B. REICH, Secretary of Labor U.S. Department of Labor, Petitioner,
v.
LOCAL 890, INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, AFL-CIO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: INFANTE

I. INTRODUCTION

 The Secretary of Labor initiated this suit pursuant to Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. (hereinafter the "Act" or "LMRDA") against defendant Local 890, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, AFL-CIO ("Local 890" or "Union"), alleging that the Union violated section 401(g) of the Act by utilizing an employee payroll deduction system for campaign contributions. The Secretary moves for summary judgment, requesting that the court declare the September 1994 election results null and void, and direct a new election of officers under the Secretary's supervision pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 482(c). The Union opposes the motion and cross moves for summary judgment in its favor, asserting, inter alia, that the Secretary is precluded from challenging the payroll deduction system because the complainant failed to exhaust her internal union remedies.

 II. UNDISPUTED FACTS

 Defendant Local 890 is a local labor organization within the meaning of the Act. It maintains its principal office in Salinas, California, and is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The Union's elections are held triennially pursuant to the Constitution of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the local bylaws.

 In August 1992, the Local 890 Executive Board passed a resolution allowing employees to designate payroll deductions for any purpose. The minutes of the Executive Board meeting state:

 
The Executive Board approved a proposal to allow staff to designate payroll deductions for any purpose, with the condition that if the deduction related to union politics the union must be reimbursed for the bookkeeper's time.

 The minutes were read and approved at the subsequent general membership meeting, and thereafter were available for review by any Union member at the Union's Salinas office.

 During 1993 and 1994, many of the Union's business agents authorized payroll deductions to contribute money to the incumbent officers' campaign fund. The incumbent officers raised $ 17,442.00 through this payroll deduction system, which financed the incumbents' entire 1994 reelection campaign at a cost of approximately $ 12,500.00. The incumbents' campaign fund fully reimbursed Local 890 for the office bookkeeper's time in administering the payroll deduction program. *fn1"

 Guillermina Garnica, an unsuccessful challenger to the incumbent president, protested the election to the appropriate intermediate body within the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joint Council No. 7 *fn2" , and subsequently to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. *fn3" Pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 482(a)(2), Guillermina Garnica filed a timely complaint with the Secretary of the Department of Labor asserting "allegations regarding section 401(g) that were specific to the use of union membership lists and campaigning by Business Agents on union time." *fn4" Although the Secretary did not confirm any of Ms. Garnica's allegations, the Secretary determined that the Union had violated section 401(g) of the Act by utilizing the payroll deduction system for campaign contributions.

 Ms. Garnica was unaware of the Union's payroll deduction system prior to the Secretary's investigation, and thus at no time challenged the system during her internal Union protests. However, the payroll deduction system was well known to other Union members. In particular, at least two business agents representing Ms. Garnica and other Union members who worked at the Bud Antle company in Salinas used the payroll deduction system to contribute to the incumbent officers' slate. *fn5" In addition, at least three of Ms. Garnica's fellow rank and file Union members at Bud Antle knew that business agents used the payroll deduction system to make campaign contributions. *fn6"

 III. LEGAL STANDARD

 Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P., provides that summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). In this case, the parties agree that the material facts relating to whether Ms. Garnica failed to exhaust her internal Union remedies, and whether the Union's payroll deduction system violated section 401(g) are undisputed. Thus, the cross-motions for summary judgment present purely questions of law that may properly be adjudicated by the court. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. ...


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