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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters














October 24, 1996




Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

Page 1




Johnnie Robinson III

14811 Grant Street

Dolton, IL 60419


Gerald Zero, Secretary-Treasurer

Teamsters Local Union 705

1645 W. Jackson Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60612

Freeman Wilson

c/o Lorelei Anderson

Teamsters Local Union 705

1645 W. Jackson Boulevard

Chicago, IL 60612

Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

Page 1




Re:  Election Office Case No. P-963-LU705-CHI




Johnnie Robinson III, a member of Local Union 705, filed a pre-election protest pursuant to Article XIV, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (Rules) alleging that he was harassed and intimidated by Local

Union 705 Steward Freeman Wilson at their workplace on September 12, 1996, due to

Mr. Robinsons support for James P. Hoffa, a candidate for general president.  Specifically, Mr. Robinson contends that Mr. Wilson sought him out and started an argument that involved threats that Mr. Robinsons political affiliation would result in his not receiving equal representation by the local union.  Mr. Robinson states in his protest:  (1) that Mr. Wilson pushed him three times by pushing against a Hoffa campaign button that Mr. Robinson was wearing; (2) that Mr. Wilson said, Hoffa is a mobster; (3) that Mr. Wilson said, referring to a former steward terminated by the local union about two years previously, that Business Representative Bob Ovideo would no longer represent you or anyone else who supports Hoffa; and (4) that Mr. Wilson said to Mr. Robinson to be careful who youre sleeping with. 


Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

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Mr. Wilson admits having an argument with Mr. Robinson but denies touching him except for a tap on the shoulder.  Mr. Wilson also admits referring to Mr. Ovideo, but states that he meant that Mr. Ovideo had not done a good job and that things are better now. 

Mr. Wilson denies making the mobster or sleeping with comments.


This protest was investigated by Regional Coordinator Julie E. Hamos.


Mr. Robinson works at a UPS facility on South Jefferson Street, Chicago, Illinois.  The investigation revealed that there are three Local Union 705 stewards at the facility.  In general, the stewards do not have formal divisions of responsibility, handling problems that are brought to them by individual members.  Mr. Wilson further states, however, that the stewards discuss problems with each other on an informal basis.  Mr. Ovideo was a steward at the facility, who was terminated by the local union approximately two years ago.


According to Mr. Robinson, Mr. Wilson acted as his steward on several matters when Mr. Robinson was a loader, about two years before the events raised in this protest.  Although Mr. Robinson denies that Mr. Wilson acts as his steward currently, Mr. Wilson states that he represented Mr. Robinson as recently as March or April 1996 in connection with a pre-grievance problem concerning attendance for a group of employees, including Mr. Robinson.


The investigation further revealed that Mr. Robinson had a grievance pending at the time of the argument.  Mr. Wilson admits knowing that Mr. Robinson had filed a grievance and that it involved a problem with attendance.  He contends, however, that he was not aware at the time of the argument whether Mr. Robinsons grievance was outstanding or had been resolved.


The argument underlying this protest took place on Thursday, September 12, 1996.  Mr. Robinson had attended a Hoffa campaign rally on the previous Friday, September 6.  The Election Officers investigation indicated that Mr. Wilson looked for and found Mr. Robinson on break outside the UPS building.  According to Mr. Wilson, he wanted to talk to

Mr. Robinson about a remark that another member had attributed to Mr. Robinson at the Hoffa rally, which was that Mr. Wilson had not represented Mr. Robinson effectively. 

Mr. Robinson denies, however, that he made such a remark.


Mr. Robinson states that Mr. Wilson sought him out and threatened him for supporting Mr. Hoffa.  Specifically, Mr. Robinson states Mr. Wilson pushed against his Hoffa button, referred to Mr. Hoffa as a mobster, told Mr. Robinson--who had a grievance pending at the time--that Business Representative Bob Ovideo would no longer represent you or anyone else who supports Hoffa, and warned Mr. Robinson to be careful who he was sleeping with.  Mr. Robinson states that he feared these statements threatened the proper representation by his steward in his grievance.


Mr. Wilson responds that there was no physical altercation and that the entire conversation was as follows:


Wilson:              Youre saying Im not doing my job?

Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

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Robinson:              Its not you.  Its [Local Union Recording Secretary] Benny Jackson and [Business Representative] Lorelei Anderson.


Wilson:              Im here as a steward to represent you because of these people in office.  Thats why I can do my job.  If you have a problem with Benny or Lorelei, then talk to [President] John McCormick or [Secretary-Treasurer] Gerry Zero.  I know of no time that Bob Ovideo made himself available to you during a break or gave you his home phone number like I did.


Mr. Wilson also states that he did not touch Mr. Robinsons Hoffa button, which he acknowledges Mr. Robinson has worn for months.  Mr. Wilson further states that he would not have made a comment about Mr. Hoffa being a mobster because I have no way of knowing that.  He denies making the sleeping with comment alleged by Mr. Robinson.  He further states that as he walked away he said to two members who overheard the conversation, Would you explain to him the difference in the Union now and the way it was before?


The Regional Coordinator identified two witnesses, neither of whom overheard the actual argument:  Jerry Jones and Michael Shy.  Mr. Jones states that he was standing outside the building with a group when Mr. Wilson approached and asked to speak to Mr. Robinson privately.  Mr. Jones states that Messrs. Robinson and Wilson moved about 10 feet away, out of hearing, and spoke for about five minutes.  He further states that he is sure that Mr. Wilson did not touch Mr. Robinson, and that Mr. Wilson did not make a comment to anyone as he walked away.  Mr. Shy states that he went back into the building before Messrs. Robinson and Wilson finished talking.  For the period that he was outside, however, he states that there was no pushing or shoving or other physical encounter.


Article VIII, Section 11(f) of the Rules provides as follows:


Retaliation or threat of retaliation by the International Union, any subordinate body, any member of the IBT, any employer or other person or entity against a Union member, officer or employee for exercising any right guaranteed by this or any other Article of the Rules is prohibited.


This section is violated when, in response to protected activity, members engage in physically or verbally aggressive behavior that threatens actual harm.  Passo, P-469-LU705-CHI et seq. (February 29, 1996) (finding intent to provoke physical confrontation violates Rules), affd in relevant part, 96 - Elec. App. - 124 (KC) (March 13, 1996).  It is also violated when, in response to protected activity, members take or threaten action that could result in adverse job-related consequences.  In Re: Bruno, 96 - Elec. App. - 202 (KC)

Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

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(June 20, 1996) (local union president threatening member with loss of job); Justus, P-462-LU104-RMT et seq. (March 13, 1996) (member making accusation to employer of improper conduct by other member without basis), affd, 96 - Elec. App. - 140 (KC) (March 25, 1996); Thibeault, P-898-LU1150-ENG (October 4, 1996) (same). 


In the absence of harassment or a credible threat, however, the Election Officer will view even heated arguments as part of the natural discourse that arises as a result of campaign-related activities and not retaliation under the RulesFurst, P-949-LU430-PNJ (October 9, 1996) (heated discussion between protester and charged party does not violate Rules).  See Dunn, P-110-LU25-BOS (July 28, 1995), affd, 95 - Elec. App. - 8 (KC)

(August 21, 1995) (local union president did not violate Rules by following, hovering near and blocking path of campaigning member); Corriea, P-930-LU150-CSF (September 12, 1996) (fact that charged party, much taller than protester, stood over latters desk did not constitute violation, as charged party was not aggressive or violent, nor did he threaten aggression or violence in any way).


In evaluating the testimony of Messrs. Robinson and Wilson under this standard, the Election Officer finds that Mr. Wilson engaged in prohibited retaliation by seeking out

Mr. Robinson to confront and threaten him with respect to his support for Mr. Hoffa. 

Mr. Robinson had a pending grievance, and Mr. Wilson admits that it is the practice of stewards at that facility to talk to each other about grievance cases.  Thus, the Election Officer finds that Mr. Robinson credibly feared job-related consequences.


In coming to this conclusion, the Election Officer does not credit Mr. Wilsons version of the conversation, which would not have taken the five minutes testified to by Mr. Jones.  Mr. Jones also refutes Mr. Wilsons statement about making a remark to witnesses as he walked away from the argument.  The Election Officer further notes that Mr. Wilson originally conceded that his discussion with Mr. Robinson was an argument.  Later in the investigation, however, Mr. Wilson recharacterized that discussion as a pleasant conversation about union representation.


The Election Officer credits Mr. Robinsons allegation that Mr. Wilson told him to look out who youre sleeping with, referring to political affiliation.  Thus, the Election Officer finds on this record that Mr. Wilson, a steward, sought out Mr. Robinson, a member, and argued in part about Mr. Robinsons support for Mr. Hoffa.  At the time, Mr. Robinson had a pending grievance and credibly feared an adverse consequence.


With respect to Mr. Robinsons allegation that Mr. Wilson also threatened him physically, the Election Officer finds insufficient evidence on this record.  The Election Officer notes that Mr. Jones stated that there was no physical contact between

Messrs. Robinson and Wilson, which is corroborated in part by Mr. Shy.  The Election Officer also notes, however, that Mr. Wilson admits tapping Mr. Robinson on the shoulder, which indicates that there may have been some level of physical contact that Messrs. Jones and


Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

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Shy did not see.  In any event, the aggressive physical contact alleged by Mr. Robinson is not supported by the evidence.  A tap on the shoulder does not violate the Rules.


For the foregoing reasons, the protest is GRANTED with respect to verbal threats of retaliation.


When the Election Officer determines that the Rules have been violated, she may take whatever remedial action is appropriate.  Article XIV, Section 4.  In fashioning the appropriate remedy, the Election Officer views the nature and seriousness of the violation, as well as its potential for interfering with the election process.


The Election Officer orders the following.


1.  Mr. Wilson shall cease and desist from retaliating against any member because of their support for a candidate in the International officer election.


2.  Within five (5) days of the date of this decision, Mr. Wilson shall execute, and Local Union shall post, the attached notice on all local union bulletin boards at the UPS facility on South Jefferson Street, Chicago, Illinois.  The notice shall remain posted for thirty (30) consecutive days.  Within three (3) days after posting is complete, Local Union 705 submit an affidavit to the Election Officer demonstrating compliance with this order.


An order of the Election Officer, unless otherwise stayed, takes immediate effect against a party found to be in violation of the RulesIn Re: Lopez, 96 - Elec. App. - 73 (KC) (February 13, 1966).


Any interested party not satisfied with this determination may request a hearing before the Election Appeals Master within one day of receipt of this letter.  The parties are reminded that, absent extraordinary circumstances, no party may rely upon evidence that was not presented to the Office of the Election Officer in any such appeal.  Requests for a hearing shall be made in writing and shall be served on:


Kenneth Conboy, Esq.

Latham & Watkins

885 Third Avenue, Suite 1000

New York, NY 10022

Fax (212) 751-4864


Johnnie Robinson III

October 24, 1996

Page 1




Copies of the request for hearing must be served on the parties listed above as well as upon the Election Officer, 400 N. Capitol Street, Suite 855, Washington, DC 20001, Facsimile

(202) 624-3525.  A copy of the protest must accompany the request for a hearing.






Barbara Zack Quindel

Election Officer



cc:               Kenneth Conboy, Election Appeals Master

Julie E. Hamos, Regional Coordinator










The Election Officer has determined that I violated the Election Rules governing the International officer election by retaliating against a union member because of his support for one of the candidates.


No one, including local union officers, business agents, stewards or employees, may threaten, coerce, harass or otherwise retaliate or take any other adverse action against you because of your support of a particular candidate, or your lack of support of a candidate.


Any attempt by any local union officer, delegate, steward, employee or member to interfere or retaliate against you because of your political activity in connection with the delegate election should be immediately reported to

Barbara Zack Quindel, Election Officer, IBT, at her Washington, D.C. office.  All such reports shall be immediately investigated and appropriate and remedial action taken.




Freeman Wilson, Steward

Teamsters Local Union 705










This is an official notice which must remain posted for 30 consecutive days and must not be defaced or altered in any manner or be covered with any other material.


Approved by Barbara Zack Quindel, IBT Election Officer.