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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters


for the



IN RE: HOFFA-HALL 2016,                        )           Protest Decision 2015 ESD 41

                                                                        )           Issued: October 16, 2015

            Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-054-092915-MW   



            Hoffa-Hall 2016 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 the Facebook profile of Local Union 414 improperly endorsed the Teamsters United slate.

            Election Supervisor representative Joe Childers investigated this protest.

Findings of Fact and Analysis

            Local Union 414 is located in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  It does not sponsor or maintain a Facebook profile.

            This protest was filed when a Facebook profile called “Teamsters 414” posted campaign material supporting Teamsters United.  The protest contended that the local union was liable for a Rules violation if it sponsored the profile.  Even if the local union did not, however, the protest argued that the local union was liable under the Rules for permitting an individual or group to establish a Facebook profile as “Teamsters 414.”

            The home page of the Teamsters 414 profile showed a photo of the local union hall.  Inset on the left side of the page was the IBT’s horses-and-wheel logo with the words “Local 414.”  The title of the profile as shown on the home page was “Teamsters 414” and was designated an “Organization.”

However, the “about” section of the profile stated – both before the protest was filed and presently – that it is “[a]n independent rank and file forum for Local 414 members – not affiliated with the Local Union or the present officials.”  Investigation showed that the Teamsters 414 Facebook profile is a virtual “public square” where members may comment on issues of concern to them, including the pending election of International officers.  In addition, investigation showed that no official of Local Union 414 sponsored or moderated the forum or knew the identity of any person who did.

Facebook’s terms of use governing creation and maintenance of profiles for organizations reads in relevant part as follows:

A.    A Page for a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure may be administered only by an authorized representative of that brand, entity (place or organization) or public figure (an “official Page”).

B.    Any user may create a Page to express support for or interest in a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure, provided that it does not mislead others into thinking it is an official Page, or violate someone's rights.  If your Page is not the official Page of a brand, entity (place or organization) or public figure, you must:

i.    not speak in the voice of, or post content as though it was coming from, the authorized representative of the Page’s subject matter; and

ii.    make clear that the Page is not the official Page of the brand, entity (place or organization) or public figure.

            Based on these terms of use, the organizer of the Teamsters 414 profile, at our request, agreed to retitle the home page as “Teamsters 414 – Members’ Forum – Unofficial,” so as to extinguish any doubt that the profile might be an official publication of Local Union 414.  In addition, the organizer of the profile amended the inset photo at the left of the home page to read “Teamsters 414 Members’ Forum.”  Finally, the profile category was changed from “organization” to “community.”

            While the “about” section of the page had previously (and still does) stated expressly that the profile was unofficial and not affiliated with the local union, the new home page title and other changes demonstrate to the viewer that the statements, information, and opinions posted to the profile are not the official pronouncements of Local Union 414.

            As the Facebook profile in question is the creation of members and is not the official publication of the local union, we find no violation of Article VII, Sections 8 or 9, which prohibit use of union publications (including union-sponsored social media) to campaign.  Further, the campaign opinions of contributing members to the forum are protected speech under the Rules.

            With the changes to the home page to make demonstrably clear that the profile is a member forum unaffiliated with the local union, we deem this protest RESOLVED.

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 41 




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

Teamsters Local Union 414

2644 Cass Street

Ft. Wayne, IN 46808


Aaron Cunningham


Joe Childers

201 W. Short Street, Ste. 300

Lexington, KY 40507


Bill Broberg

1108 Fincastle Road

Lexington, KY 40502


Jeffrey Ellison

214 S. Main Street, Suite 210

Ann Arbor, MI 48104