IN RE: THOMAS BENNETT, Protestor.
Thomas Bennett, a member of Local Union 200, filed a pre-election protest pursuant to Article XIII, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 2005-2006 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (“Rules”). He alleged that the local union prevented candidates on the Teamsters4Teamsters slate (T4T slate) from attending a meeting of union members, in violation of the Rules.
Election Supervisor representatives Joe Childers investigated this protest.
Findings of Fact
On February 2, 2006, Local Union 200 conducted a meeting of its members employed in the ready-mix industry in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Marquette interchange, a large highway project in which three major ready-mix employers are operating as a joint venture. The employers had launched a second shift, and the union meeting was to address how union hiring would be conducted for that shift.
Notice of the meeting was posted on union bulletin boards at the employers involved. The notice invited all members and was well attended. Investigation showed that no member who sought to attend the meeting was denied admission.
Candidates on the T4T slate handbilled outside the meeting. Except for Mike Gurich, a candidate on the T4T slate and an employee and steward at one of the ready-mix employers, no T4T candidate entered the meeting.
On or before February 1, protestor Bennett learned that the meeting had been scheduled. He emailed Bill Broberg of our office on that date to inquire whether candidates in the delegate and alternate delegate election would be permitted to attend the meeting. Broberg in turn contacted the local union and asked business agent Jeff Dexter the purpose of the meeting. According to Broberg, Dexter said the meeting was for stewards and “company representatives.” Dexter told our investigator that he said the meeting was for stewards and “company guys,” referring to members employed by the ready-mix employers.
Broberg relayed to Bennett his understanding that the meeting was for stewards and company representatives and not one to which members generally were welcome.
The T4T candidates who handbilled in the parking lot outside the meeting were consequently surprised to see members stream into the meeting. Despite this observation, no T4T candidate aside from Gurich sought to enter.
Investigation showed that no campaign activity occurred from the podium during the course of the meeting.
The protest alleged that the local union deliberately misled Broberg about
the purpose of the meeting and the persons who could attend so that T4T
candidates would not seek to enter the meeting.
Article VII, Section 5(a) of the Rules states that “[n]o candidate may be denied access to any meeting of the Local Union to which he/she belongs as a member; however, the Local Union need not grant such candidate the opportunity to address the meeting for the purpose of campaigning unless a similar opportunity is granted to another candidate.”
Investigation showed that the local union did not violate this provision because no candidate who sought to attend the meeting was denied entry. The investigation further demonstrated that a failure of communication occurred between Broberg and business agent Dexter which, when conveyed to Bennett, led the T4T candidates to remain outside the meeting. However, the T4T candidates were privy to information not supplied to Broberg that should have caused them to reconsider their decision to remain outside. Specifically, the posted notice of the meeting, which candidate Gurich saw, stated expressly that members were invited, and this broad invitation necessarily included candidates in the delegate and alternate delegate election. Further, the candidates handbilling outside the meeting saw scores of individuals they knew were neither stewards nor company representatives walk into the meeting. From these facts, the candidates should have concluded that the meeting was open to members. Under these circumstances, we will not find that the candidates were denied admission to the meeting.
Accordingly, we DENY the protest.
Any interested party not satisfied with this determination may request a hearing before the Election Appeals Master within two (2) working days of receipt of this decision. The parties are reminded that, absent extraordinary circumstances, no party may rely upon evidence that was not presented to the Office of the Election Supervisor in any such appeal. Requests for a hearing shall be made in writing, shall specify the basis for the appeal and shall be served upon:
Copies of the request for hearing must be served upon the parties, as well as upon the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 1725 K Street, N.W., Suite 1400, Washington, D.C. 20007-5135, all within the time prescribed above. A copy of the protest must accompany the request for hearing.
Richard W. Mark
DISTRIBUTION LIST (BY EMAIL UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED):
Bradley T. Raymond, General Counsel
Sarah Riger, Staff Attorney
David J. Hoffa, Esq.
Judith Brown Chomsky
Tim Buban, Secretary-Treasurer
Joe F. Childers