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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters


for the



IN RE: HOFFA-HALL 2016,                      )           Protest Decision 2016 ESD 330

                                                                        )           Issued: November 15, 2016

            Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-381-101116-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 Joe Balkis violated the Rules by burning Hoffa-Hall 2016 campaign material.


            Election Supervisor representative Joe Childers investigated this protest.


Findings of Fact and Analysis


Joe Balkis was formerly an unaffiliated candidate for IBT vice president.  He withdrew his candidacy on April 4, 2016. 


The protest alleged that Balkis, operating under the pseudonym “John Brown,” violated the Rules by posting to Facebook a video that depicted the burning of Hoffa-Hall 2016 campaign material.  The extent of the evidence the protestor presented for the act complained of was the video itself, which showed a Hoffa-Hall 2016 yard sign, a Hoffa-Coli-Strzechowski bumper sticker apparently affixed to the yard sign, and a Hoffa 2006 pole sticker, all of which were placed on a small Weber grill or hibachi, doused with lighter fluid, and set ablaze.  The video was captioned, “Dump jr hogfa [sic] and the dance hall cabal.  We don’t need no water, let the mfrs burn!”


The protestor presented evidence that suggested that Balkis and “Brown” were one and the same.  Balkis neither confirmed nor denied that he was “Brown” and had posted the video in question.  The evidence presented persuades us that Balkis indeed is “Brown,” and we so find.


Turning to the act complained of, the protestor contended that the destruction of campaign material interfered with the right of Hoffa-Hall 2016 to campaign and otherwise solicit support, citing Hardison, 2006 ESD 116 (February 27, 2006), appeal withdrawn, 06 EAM 20 (March 8, 2006).  In Hardison, we found that a local union president removed campaign flyers from windshields in an employee parking lot before employees could see them.  We held that the placement of campaign flyers on vehicle windshields in an employee parking lot was, absent a uniformly-enforced employer rule to the contrary, protected activity under the Rules.  Therefore, the action of the local union president in removing the campaign material impermissibly interfered with the right of the protestor to campaign among fellow members. 


In contrast to Hardison, the protestor here presented no evidence that “Brown” acquired the campaign material that was burned in the video by removing it from one or more locations where it was placed legitimately.  The video depicted three items that were burned.  The Hoffa 2006 pole sticker cannot be cause for the protestor’s complaint here because it concerns an election that occurred ten years ago.  With respect to the Hoffa-Hall 2016 lawn sign and the Hoffa-Coli-Strzechowski bumper sticker that appears to be affixed to it, absent evidence that the sign was placed in a location protected by the Rules and was removed improperly, we cannot conclude that “Brown” interfered with the slate’s protected campaign rights by possessing the sign.  “Brown” may have acquired the material because he requested it, was given it, or because he removed it from a location, such as employer property, where its placement was not protected by the Rules.  We cannot assume, as protestor would have us do, that “Brown” acquired the material by misappropriating it as the local union president did in Hardison.


As for destroying the sign by fire, Article VII, Section 12(a) protects the rights of all members “to support or oppose any candidate.”  We find that burning campaign material and captioning the video as “Brown” did is symbolic speech expressing “Brown’s” opposition to Hoffa-Hall 2016, Coli, and Strzechowski.  Such symbolic speech is protected by the Rules.


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

            2016 ESD 330



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


Joseph Balkis


Joe Childers

201 W. Short Street, Ste. 300

Lexington, KY 40507


Bill Broberg

1108 Fincastle Rd

Lexington, KY 40502


Jeffrey Ellison

214 S. Main Street, Suite 212

Ann Arbor, MI 48104