United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT RE: DKT. NOS. 27, 33
William H. Orrick United States District Judge.
Sandford Taylor brings claims against his union’s
district council, alleging it used a corrupt process to pass
new bylaws-including salary increases for council
leadership-without sufficient notice to or participation by
union membership. Before me are cross-motions for summary
judgment by Taylor and by the Painters and Allied Trades
District Council 36 (“District Council 36”) and
the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades,
AFL-CIO (“IUPAT” or “international
union”), the two defendants in this case. Although
Taylor raises valid concerns about the manner in which
District Council 36 handled the bylaws referendum, the
defendants are entitled to summary judgment because the
undisputed facts show that Taylor himself was able to vote.
has been a member of Sign, Display & Allied Crafts, Local
Union 510 (“Local 510”) since about 2006 or
2007. Deposition of Sandford D. Taylor
(“Taylor Depo.”) [Dkt. No. 35-1] 14:12-20. Local
510 is one of 11 local unions that make up District Council
36, which comprises approximately 10,000 members in all.
Declaration of Ana Hanson (“Hanson Decl.”) [Dkt.
No. 34] ¶ 5. District Council 36 is affiliated with
IUPAT, although IUPAT has no role in overseeing its
day-to-day operations, its employee hiring or supervision, or
its collective bargaining negotiations or agreements. Hanson
Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6, 7. IUPAT represents members who work
across the United States and Canada in the finishing trades,
as painters, drywall finishers, glass workers, and more.
Id. ¶ 4.
IUPAT Constitution, ratified in 2015, requires that each
district council frame its own bylaws and periodically amend
those bylaws to conform to the IUPAT’s Model
Bylaws. Taylor Decl. Ex. XX, IUPAT Constitution
(“IUPAT Const.”) § 124(a); Hanson Decl.
¶¶ 8, 9, 10; see Taylor Depo. 21:9. A
Bylaws Committee for each district council must follow
certain procedures to amend or modify bylaws. IUPAT Const.
§ 124(b). The bylaws themselves, along with all proposed
changes, must be submitted to IUPAT for approval before they
go into effect. § 124(a); Hanson Decl. ¶ 10.
the district council intends to amend or modify its bylaws,
it must provide notice to the membership by mail “at
least 15 days prior to the meeting(s) at which the members
will consider and vote on the question.” IUPAT Const.
§ 124(c). “The notice must specifically state the
question to be voted on, including the precise amount or rate
of any change in dues, fees or assessments, and must include
a copy of any proposed Bylaw amendment.” Id.
From May 22 to July 5, 2018, District Council 36’s
Bylaws Committee met to review and make changes to its
bylaws. Hanson Decl. ¶ 12; see Id. Ex. B (old
bylaws). Among other changes, including to bring the bylaws
into conformity with the new IUPAT Model Bylaws, the
committee proposed salary changes for District Council 36
leadership. The Business Manager/Secretary-Treasurer’s
salary would be made equal to 65% of the General
President’s salary, rather than 50%, and certain
district council 36 employee salaries would be made equal to
a certain percentage of the Business
Manager/Secretary-Treasurer’s salary. Id.
¶¶ 14, 15.
17, 2018, District Council 36 sent a notice by first class
mail to the home addresses of all of its members. Hanson
Decl. ¶ 19. The mailer notified members that a
referendum vote would take place on August 4, provided a list
of voting locations along with the hours of the vote, and
included a 43-page copy of the proposed new bylaws.
Id. ¶¶ 19, 21, Ex. D [Dkt. No. 34-4]
(notice). District Council 36 sent the mailer to all members
on the same date. Id. ¶ 20. IUPAT played no
role in this process. Id. ¶ 22.
learned about the proposed amendments when he received the
notice in the mail around July 20. Taylor Depo. 26:6-11,
33:2-7. He spoke with a few other Local 510 members about the
mailer and understood that all members had received it at the
same time he did. Id. at 34:2-25, 60:7-12. He called
Hanson, the Executive Assistant of District Council 36, on
July 25, 2018 asking for a copy of the then-existing bylaws
so that he could compare them with the proposed new bylaws.
See Id. at 32:10-12, 36:3-9; Hanson Decl. ¶ 23.
The same day, she mailed Taylor a cover letter and a copy of
the then-existing bylaws. Id.; see Hanson
Decl. Ex. E [Dkt. No. 34-5] (cover letter). He received it a
few days later. Taylor Depo. 37:2-21. Two other members
contacted Hanson to request a copy of the bylaws, and she
also responded to them the same day they made the request.
Hanson Decl. ¶ 25.
compared the then-existing bylaws with the proposed new
bylaws, writing down some of the changes that he noticed.
Taylor Depo. 39:18-40:8. As he did so, “what really
caught [his] eye was the change in compensation for district
council management.” Id. at 39:18-40:1. Prior
to the vote, Taylor spoke with about 50 members of Local 510
to tell them the amendments were “bad” and that
it looked like District Council 36 was “trying to sneak
it through.” Id. at 42:21-43:14. Although he
knew that other local unions that make up District Council 36
would be participating in the vote, he did not have enough
time to reach out to those members. Id. at 43:15-22.
ratification vote took place on August 4, 2018 as scheduled.
Hanson Decl. ¶ 26. District Council 36 members ratified
the changes to the bylaws by a vote of 320-54. Id.
¶ 28. Including Taylor, 12 Local Union 510 members
voted. Id. ¶ 26; Taylor Decl. ¶ 10. Out of
the people Taylor spoke to, 30 or 40 people said they would
vote against the amendments but in fact did not vote. Taylor
Depo. 48:3-15. Taylor believes that the process of passing
the new bylaws was unreasonable because only a tiny fraction
of Local 510 members and District Council 36 members voted.
Id. at 77:16-20, 78:19, 79:15-16.
IUPAT approved the changes to District Council 36’s
bylaws on August 24, 2018. Hanson Decl. ¶ 29; Taylor
Decl. ¶ 15; see also Taylor Depo. 81:17-25
(acknowledging that the bylaws had been implemented). On
December 31, 2018, Taylor filed his complaint in this court
alleging a single claim under section 101(a)(1) of the Labor
Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
(“LMRDA”), 29 U.S.C. § 411(a)(1). Complaint
(“Compl.”) [Dkt. Nos. 1, 3]. Taylor moved for
summary judgment on July 2, 2019, and the defendants filed
their own motion on July 10. See Plaintiff’s
Motion for Summary Judgment (“Pl. MSJ”) [Dkt. No.
27]; Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment
(“Def. MSJ”) [Dkt. No. 33].
judgment on a claim or defense is appropriate “if the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In order to
prevail, a party moving for summary judgment must show the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact with respect to
an essential element of the non-moving party’s claim,
or to a defense on which the non-moving party will bear the
burden of persuasion at trial. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the movant has
made this showing, the burden then shifts to the party
opposing summary judgment to identify “specific facts
showing there is a genuine issue for trial.”
Id. The party opposing summary judgment must present
affirmative evidence from which a jury could return a verdict
in that party’s favor. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 257 (1986).
summary judgment, the court draws all reasonable factual
inferences in favor of the non-movant. Id. at 255.
In deciding the motion, “[c]redibility determinations,
the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate
inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a
judge.” Id. However, conclusory and
speculative testimony does not raise genuine issues of fact
and is insufficient ...