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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters


for the



IN RE: SAM BUCALO,                            )              Protest Decision 2015 ESD 35

                                                                    )               Issued: October 1, 2015

            Protestor.                                        )              OES Case No. P-044-090315-ME    


            Sam Bucalo, member and secretary-treasurer of Local Union 100, filed a pre-election protest pursuant to Article XIII, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 2015-2016 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (“Rules”).  The protest alleged that Local Union 100 impermissibly expended union resources to support protests filed against him.

            Election Supervisor representative John Pegula investigated this protest.

Findings of Fact and Analysis

            As detailed in Hoffa-Hall 2016, 2015 ESD 28 (August 28, 2015), protestor Bucalo published and distributed to the membership of Local Union 100 as campaign literature a self-financed “member newsletter” that presented information and personal views on events within the local union, promoted Bucalo’s candidacy for re-election as local union secretary-treasurer, and endorsed the Teamsters United slate of candidates for International office.

            Two protests were filed alleging that Bucalo’s publication was so similar to the official Local Union 100 newsletter as to mislead members into believing that the local union endorsed the Teamsters United slate.  We denied these protests, finding that Bucalo’s publication stated in clear language in several places that it was campaign literature, was not an official union publication, and that no union funds were used to produce or distribute it.  See Hoffa-Hall 2016, 2015 ESD 28 (August 28, 2015). 

            Following the publication of the Bucalo’s “member newsletter,” local union president David Webster and vice president Ron Butts sought advice from the local union’s law firm concerning the local union’s potential liability arising from Bucalo’s publication and recommendations to ameliorate that potential.  Legal counsel prepared two letters to Bucalo for Webster’s signature.  The first expressed Webster’s concern that Bucalo’s publication was very similar to the official Local Union 100 newsletter, might cause confusion among members, and may expose the local union to liability as a result.  The letter also instructed Bucalo not to respond on behalf of the local union to matters arising because of his candidacy without notifying the executive board of his actions.  The second letter repeated Webster’s concerns, and concluded with the statement that Webster’s “only goals are to protect the Local Union and all of its officers and to make sure there are no violations of the Local 100 or IBT election procedures or of the IBT Constitution or Local 100 bylaws.”

            The law firm billed the local union for its services in meeting with Webster and Butts and drafting the letters for Webster.  When the check paying the billing was presented for signature to Bucalo as secretary-treasurer, he filed this protest.  At bottom, the protest asserts that use of the union resources to pay the law firm for advice on a matter that is the subject of protests constituted impermissible support for the campaign that filed one of the protests.

            In previous election cycles, we have considered whether a local union official or employee violated the Rules by researching, filing, and processing a protest on union-paid time or using union-provided staff or equipment, including phone, fax, computers, and TITAN terminal to do so.  We have held generally that filing a protest “is protected, and does not constitute support for a candidate or campaigning under the Rules.”  Link & Blitsch, 2011 ESD 135 (February 23, 2011) (local union official did not violate Rules by using union fax to file protest printed on union letterhead); Brown, 2006 ESD 194 (April 20, 2006) (local union official may investigate potential protest on union-paid time because protest activity is protected under the Rules); Reyes, 2000 EAD 28 (September 27, 2000) (use of a union fax machine to file protest no violation); Kieffer, P360 (March 19, 1996) (same).  The right to file a protest is paramount and may not be restricted in any way.  Koles, P487 (March 4, 1996) (use by local union officer of local union’s fax machine and other equipment as well as secretarial time does not violate Rules); Bennett, 2006 ESD 99 (February 24, 2006) (use of union hall as return address when filing protest permitted); Koch, 2006 ESD 169 (April 3, 2006) (protest written during union-paid work hours, printed on union stationery, and faxed from a union office does not violate Rules).  Union resources may be used in connection with protest activity if the union is, in some way furthering or protecting “the independent, institutional interest of the union.”  Wood, 2011 ESD 202 (April 4, 2011) (protests filed by local union official on union-paid time using union equipment advanced the institutional interests of the local union and were not pursued to advocate for a particular candidate).  Under these rulings, if a local union has an interest in a protest and spends union resources to respond to, analyze, or investigate a protest, or pays for legal advice in connection with protests, that is compliance activity allowed under the Rules

            In the present case, neither the local union, its officers or employees, nor its legal counsel researched, filed, or processed a protest concerning Bucalo’s publication.  Instead, they expended union resources responding to a situation about which protests also were filed.  In particular, we find that Webster and Butts met with counsel, and counsel drafted correspondence for Webster’s signature, for the purpose of addressing the local union’s institutional interests.  The Rules do not prohibit that conduct. 

Accordingly, we DENY this 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:

Kathleen A. Roberts

Election Appeals Master


620 Eighth Avenue, 34th floor

New York, NY 10018

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, 1050 17th Street, N.W., Suite 375, Washington, D.C. 20036, all within the time prescribed above.  A copy of the protest must accompany the request for hearing.

                                                                        Richard W. Mark

                                                                        Election Supervisor

cc:        Kathleen A. Roberts

            2015 ESD 35 


Bradley T. Raymond, General Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

25 Louisiana Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001

David J. Hoffa

1701 K Street NW, Ste 350

Washington DC 20036

Ken Paff

Teamsters for a Democratic Union

P.O. Box 10128

Detroit, MI 48210-0128

Barbara Harvey

1394 E. Jefferson Avenue

Detroit, MI 48207

Teamsters United

315 Flatbush Avenue, #501

Brooklyn, NY 11217

Louie Nikolaidis

350 West 31st Street, Suite 40

New York, NY 10001

Julian Gonzalez

350 West 31st Street, Suite 40

New York, NY 10001

David O’Brien Suetholz

515 Park Avenue

Louisville, KY 45202

Fred Zuckerman

P.O. Box 9493

Louisville, KY 40209

Sam Bucalo

6158 Kingoak Drive

Cincinnati, OH 45248

Teamsters Local Union 100

2100 Oak Drive

Cincinnati, OH 45241

John Pegula

1434 Greendale Dr.

Pittsburgh, PA 15239

Jeffrey Ellison

214 S. Main Street, Suite 210

Ann Arbor, MI 48104