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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters


for the



IN RE: LOCAL UNION 817                       )           Protest Decision 2015 ESD 50

            NOMINATIONS MEETING          )           Issued: November 18, 2015

                                                                        )           OES Case No. P-066-102715-NE                 

__________________________________ )


            On information that was brought to our attention, we conducted an investigation of the validity of a nomination for alternate delegate made at Local Union 817’s nominations meeting.


            Election Supervisor representative Peter Marks investigated this matter.


Findings of Fact and Analysis


            To be eligible to nominate a candidate for delegate or alternate delegate, the nominator or seconder must be a member in good standing, with his/her dues paid through the month prior to the month in which the nominations meeting is conducted.  Local Union 817 held its nominations meeting for the delegate and alternate delegate election on October 24, 2015.  Accordingly, to be eligible to nominate or second a nomination at that meeting, a member was required to be in good standing with his dues paid through September 2015.


            Local Union 817 is entitled to one delegate and one alternate delegate.  Thomas O’Donnell, local union president, was successfully nominated for delegate.  As no other candidates were nominated for that position, he was declared elected at the close of the nominations meeting.


            The name of Francis J. Connolly, Jr., local union secretary-treasurer, was placed in nomination for alternate delegate.  The person who nominated him, James Sweeney, Jr., was ineligible to do so, as his dues were paid through August 2015 and not September.  This fact is undisputed. 


Although Sweeney’s nomination of Connolly was seconded by a member eligible to do so, no other member eligible to nominate Connolly did so.  Accordingly, Connolly’s nomination as alternate delegate is invalid.


            The circumstances leading to this result are as follows.  Several days before the nominations meeting, the local union’s TITAN operator phoned several members to inform them that their dues were not current and to advise them that if they wished to nominate or second at the nominations meeting they were required to bring their dues current before the meeting.  Sweeney Jr. was one of the persons the TITAN operator called.  He acknowledged to our investigator that he received the call and failed to bring his dues current.  The TITAN operator told our investigator that Sweeney Jr. told her during the call that he did not plan to nominate or second at the meeting.


            Sweeney’s son, Francis Sweeney, III, is also a member of the local union.  Sweeney III was current in his dues obligation and was eligible to nominate or second.  However, Sweeney III was not present at the nominations meeting.  The local union restricts attendance at nominations meetings to members only, and it controls access to the meeting room with a typewritten sign-in sheet listing all members.  The names of Sweeney Jr. and Sweeney III appeared on the sign-in sheet.  Sweeney Jr. signed in next to Sweeney III’s name, leaving the space next to his own name blank.


            James Fanning, local union vice president, chaired the nominations meeting.  According to draft minutes of the meeting and his statements to our investigator, Fanning read instructions to those in attendance, numbering some 207 members.  Among the instructions Fanning read were the following:


Any member in good standing with dues paid through September 2015 may nominate or second a nomination.


A member may be nominated by more than one person to guard against the nominator proving to be ineligible.


When the time came for nomination of candidates for alternate delegate, Fanning said that some 30 to 40 members raised their hands, seeking the chair’s recognition.  Sweeney Jr. raised his hand, and Fanning called on him.  Sweeney Jr. nominated Connolly, and the nomination was seconded by another member.  Connolly accepted the nomination.  Fanning told our investigator that he had been told prior to the meeting that a Sweeney was ineligible to nominate, but he mistakenly believed Sweeney III to be ineligible, not Sweeney Jr.  Fanning called for more nominations for alternate delegate three times.  No one raised their hand, and no one made a nomination.  Fanning then closed the nominations for alternate delegate.


            The local union through counsel acknowledges that Sweeney Jr. was ineligible to nominate and that Connolly therefore was invalidly nominated.  It explains that both O’Donnell and Connolly are very popular among the membership, and a “scrum” of members ensued for the honor of nominating each.  It argues that the meeting chair dealt with the throng by closing nominations prematurely, and that the local union is prejudiced by the action in being deprived of an alternate delegate.  The local union requests that we address the failed nomination by ordering a new meeting for the purpose of nominating one or more candidates for alternate delegate.  .


            The basis for the local union’s request is that the invalidation of Connolly’s nomination as alternate delegate deprives the local union of insurance against the risk that it will have no representation at the IBT convention, in the event the elected delegate is unable or unwilling to serve.   


            We are not unsympathetic to the local union’s request.  We conclude, however, that the Rules do not permit what the local union seeks, where there has been a failure to make a valid nomination but no failure to administer the process of nominations correctly. 


Before discussing the merits of the local union’s request for a new nominations meeting to receive nominations for alternate delegate, we observe that the result we order here – the invalidation of Connolly’s nomination – does not leave Local Union 817 without representation, for its delegate candidate, O’Donnell, was eligible for nomination and validly nominated.


We begin our analysis by noting that the eligibility rules are in place to insure that candidates and their nominators have a stake in the local union.  The Rules distinguish members in good standing from those who are not in an objectively determinable way.  Ultimately, the responsibility for establishing and maintaining eligibility lies with the member.  We have voided nominations where the nominator or seconder is not eligible to serve in that role.  Eligibility of Ham, 2011 ESD 138 (February 25, 2011), aff’d, 11 EAM 27 (March 8, 2011) (candidate invalidly nominated because nominator was one month in arrears on dues payments); Eligibility of Brogan, 2011 ESD 91 (January 28, 2011) (candidate invalidly nominated because seconder was on withdrawal status at time of nominations meeting).  In contrast, we have deemed a technically deficient nomination valid, where the nominations procedure administered by the chair of the nominations meeting was itself deficient.  Tews, 2011 ESD 154 (March 7, 2011) (nomination made without a second was deemed valid where nominations meeting chair failed to request a second). 


The invalid nomination occurred here despite the TITAN operator’s advice both to Sweeney Jr. and the local union leadership that Sweeney Jr., among others, was ineligible to nominate.  We need not determine whether Sweeney Jr. attempted to avoid discovery of his ineligibility by signing in as Sweeney III.  The facts are that Sweeney Jr. was granted the floor and made the nomination.  Once he concluded making his nomination, no other member nominated Connolly or any other candidate, despite the right and opportunity to do so.  The meeting chair called for additional nominations three times, providing an opportunity for a redundant nomination:  no additional nomination was made of Connolly or any other person. 


            In some cases where we voided a nomination as invalidly made, the effect was to remove a candidate from the ballot in a delegate and alternate delegate election that otherwise remained contested.  In other cases where we voided a nomination, the effect was to turn a contested election into an uncontested one, i.e., a white ballot.  Local Union 817 argues here that the effect of our action will be to leave it with no candidate for alternate delegate, and thus no alternate delegate to travel to the IBT convention prepared to serve in the event the elected delegate needs it.  For the reasons that follow, we conclude that this result is what the Rules contemplate and require.  Accordingly, we decline the local union’s invitation that we grant it a second chance to nominate a candidate for alternate delegate.


The Rules give the Election Supervisor authority to supervise the delegate and alternate delegate elections (at issue here) and to conduct the International officer election.  The Rules specify nomination procedures for these two separate phases of the election.  The delegate body serves as the supreme governing authority of the IBT, and the formal service of delegates is limited to the five days of the convention.  International officers serve executive, legislative and judicial functions and their terms of office last some five years.  While the eligibility criteria for International officer candidates and their nominators and seconders are similar to those for delegates and alternate delegates, the nominations processes differ in several ways, two of which are significant here.  First, each candidate for International office is limited to one nominator and one seconder (Article III, Section 5(c)), while each candidate for delegate and alternate delegate may be nominated multiple times by different members.  Of course, nominators and seconders at the convention must be delegates to that body, and their eligibility to nominate and second has in all cases been determined in advance through the process of verifying their credentials to serve in that capacity.  In contrast, nominators and seconders in the context of the local union delegates and alternate delegates election may nominate or second without first undergoing a verification of their eligibility to do so.[1]  To mitigate the risk of an invalid nomination, however, the Rules allow a delegate or alternate candidate to have redundant nominations and seconds.  The second distinguishing feature between nomination and seconding of International officer candidates at the IBT convention and the nominations process in the local union delegates and alternate delegates setting is that, with the former, a valid nomination is required for each International officer position, and “[t]he Convention shall not adjourn prior to verification of the nomination of at least one (1) candidate for each” such position.  Article III, Section 5(o).  No similar provision exists for local union delegates and alternate delegates elections, reflecting the drafters’ view that a local union may proceed to the convention without a full complement of delegates and alternate delegates.


In every election cycle, challenges to eligibility of nominators, seconders, and candidates made pre-election through the protest procedure have the effect of invalidating nominations shortly after the nominations meeting at the local union level.  In addition to this protest-driven examination of various nominations conducted pre-election, our office also reviews the eligibility of all elected delegates and alternate delegates post-election through the credentialing process to insure that no member elected to such a position was ineligible for it.  It inevitably occurs that the combination of these reviews reveals and disqualifies members ineligible to serve in these elected positions.  In addition, some local unions fail to validly nominate any candidates for delegate or alternate delegate or both.  Using the experience of the 2011 convention to illustrate the point, some 8 local unions failed to elect any delegates or alternate delegates, leaving these local unions with no representation at the convention.  Another 9 local unions validly nominated and elected a delegate but failed to validly nominate an alternate delegate.  For 11 local unions that elected alternate delegates, 9 saw their alternate delegates voluntarily relinquish their credentials and forfeit their office before the convention, and two were disqualified as invalidly elected, leaving these local unions with no alternate delegate at the convention. 


While alternate delegates serve a useful function, the Rules provide no remedy for filling alternate delegate positions that are vacant as a result of a failure to elect, an eligibility challenge, or a relinquishment of credentials.  Past International Conventions have successfully conducted business without the “full” complement of alternate delegates called for in local union election plans.  This weighs against granting the relief Local Union 817 requests.


Nor is there an easily derived principle that would justify the result Local Union 817 seeks.  Here it has lost an alternate delegate to an invalid nomination.  Had it lost its elected delegate instead, a validly elected alternate delegate would assume the displaced delegate’s seat, fulfilling the raison d’etre of the alternate delegate[2], and no sound argument could be mounted that the local union should be directed to reopen nominations to provide another chance to nominate a delegate candidate validly.  As another example, for which anecdotal support exists just in the last election cycle, elected delegates and alternate delegates are pressed by personal circumstances not to travel to the convention, or are promoted to supervisory positions out of the union, or die before the convention.  All of these circumstances leave their local unions without the representatives originally determined in the delegate election.  Would the “second chance” nominations meeting Local Union 817 seeks here also require new nominations meetings in those cases?  We conclude that the structure of the Rules, the absence of precedent for a principle of the type the local union espouses, and the unwieldy process for applying such a principle compel the conclusion that no new nominations meeting can or should be ordered, where Local Union 817 has already conducted a nominations meeting in accordance with the Rules.

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 50 




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 817

817 Old Cuttermill Road

Great Neck, NY 11021

Fax: (516) 365-2609


Eugene Friedman

Friedman & Anspach

1500 Broadway, #2300

New York, NY 20036


Peter Marks

116 Nagle St

Harrisburg, PA 17104


Jeffrey Ellison

214 S. Main Street, Suite 210

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

[1] A procedure exists under Article II, Section 5(d) by which candidates, nominators, and seconders may request that OES verify their eligibility.  While use of this procedure is strongly recommended, it is optional, and members may participate in the nomination process in the local union setting without exercising it – at the risk of an invalid nomination as occurred here.

[2] Indeed, the 2011 convention saw this happen 9 times in local unions of only 1 delegate.