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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters













October 31, 1996




Albert Aguilar

October 31, 1996

Page 1



Albert Aguilar

24689 Heath Court

Moreno Valley, CA 92553


Jim Santangelo, Secretary-Treasurer

Teamsters Local Union 848

9960 Baldwin Place

El Monte, CA 91731


Vons Grocery Co., Inc.

12801 Excelsior Drive

Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670


Bruce Thompson, Manager

Labor Relations

The Vons Companies

618 Michillinda Avenue

Arcadia, CA 91007

James P. Hoffa

2593 Hounds Chase

Troy, MI 48098


Richard A. Brook

Cohen, Weiss & Simon

330 W. 42nd Street

New York, NY 10036


Bradley T. Raymond

Finkel, Whitefield, Selik, Raymond,

  Ferrara & Feldman, P.C.

32300 Northwestern Highway, Suite 200

Farmington Hills, MI 48334

Albert Aguilar

October 31, 1996

Page 1



Re:  Election Office Case No. P-1080-LU848-CLA




Albert Aguilar, a member of Local Union 848, filed a pre-election protest pursuant to Article XIV, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 1995-1996 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (“Rules”) alleging “an ongoing widespread pattern and practice of posting Hoffa campaign material on employer trailers” at two Vons Grocery Co., Inc. (“Vons”) facilities in California:  Santa Fe Springs and El Monte.  He further alleges that “[t]he local unions, employers, and the Hoffa campaign may not claim that they are unaware of the violation because of [its] open and widespread nature . . .”


Albert Aguilar

October 31, 1996

Page 1



Vons responds that affixing campaign material to its property violates company policy and that it has reaffirmed that policy in a letter to Local Union 848 Secretary-Treasurer

Jim Santangelo.


Local Union 848 denies that its stewards and business agents have participated in or encouraged the affixing of campaign material to Vons property.  It further states that it has posted a notice at the Sante Fe Springs and El Monte facilities reminding members that campaign material should not be affixed to employer property.


The Hoffa campaign responds that it circulated a memorandum to supporters in late September which stated the campaign’s position against the placement of its material on private property.  It further states that “we have received only isolated complaints about similar activities involving [Hoffa] campaign stickers” and that it has no knowledge of the incidents alleged in the protest.


This protest was investigated by Regional Coordinator Dolly M. Gee.


Mr. Aguilar works as a truck driver at the Vons facility in Santa Fe Springs.  He states that he has seen Hoffa bumper stickers on Vons trailers at that facility and at the Vons facility in El Monte.  He further alleges that he has seen Hoffa stickers on the window of the parts room in Santa Fe Springs and on pallet yard lockers.  He acknowledges that Vons removes them.


To substantiate his allegations, Mr. Aguilar submitted three photographs to the Election Officer, which show Hoffa bumper stickers affixed to three trucks.  He also states that another person has pulled down as many as 32 bumper stickers from various Vons trailers.


Vons’ Director of Labor Relations Bruce Thompson responds that Vons has three transportation facilities, two garage facilities, and approximately 1,300 to 1,400 trucks, tractors, and trailers.  He states that as many as 500 trailers may be parked at a facility at any given time.  He further responds that he has discussed the issue of improperly affixed campaign material with the managers of all five facilities and instructed them to record and remove any such materials that they see.  He also states that he has personally inspected company equipment and removed campaign stickers.


On October 16, 1996, Mr. Thompson sent a letter to Mr. Santangelo, stating, in part, that “I have received recent reports suggesting that certain of our drivers are displaying Teamster elections campaign material directly onto Company equipment in the form of bumper stickers and/or window placards.”  He enclosed Vons’ policy prohibiting damage to employer property and advised that “I regard this activity as a violation of our policy and will take necessary disciplinary action(s) upon any individual who we find to be violating this policy.”


Mr. Santangelo denied any involvement by Local Union 848 in affixing campaign material to Vons property.  In conjunction with the Regional Coordinator, Mr. Santangelo agreed to post the following notice at the Santa Fe Springs and El Monte facilities:


Albert Aguilar

October 31, 1996

Page 1



Local 848 is issuing this notice to remind members that the Election Rules prohibit misuse of employer property and resources during the International officer election.  Putting International candidate campaign material, such as bumper stickers, on employer property, or using employer resources in order to campaign, violates the Election Rules.


Although the Election Rules protect campaigning as a personal right of members, no member has any right to affix any International officer campaign material to employer-owned or employer-supplied vehicles or equipment.  Employer resources or property do not belong to members and cannot be used by them to campaign.


You are hereby requested to stop such activity if you see it and to remove any International officer campaign material from employer property when you find it.


As the Election Officer has stated in several recent matters, “[n]othing in . . . the Rules authorizes members to affix campaign material to employer-owned trucks . . .”  Hoffa, P-992-LU707-NYC (October 7, 1996); Knox, P-1046-LU337-MOI et seq. (October 30, 1996); Sweeney, P-1058-LU807-NYC (October 28, 1996).  While the Rules protect the ability of members to support candidates of their own choosing, that protection does not extend to affixing campaign stickers and other material to property that belongs to an employer.[1]  As the Election Officer stated in Phelan, P-711-LU550-NYC (April 23, 1996), aff’d, 96 - Elec. App. - 184 (KC) (May 6, 1996), “[t]he Rules protect campaigning as a personal right of IBT members and require that it be exercised that way.”


Affixing campaign material to employer property has other consequences as well.  Putting such material on an employer’s truck has the effect, under the Rules, of causing the employer to make an improper campaign contribution, in violation of Article XII,

Section 1(b)(1), even if the affixing of the sticker was against employer policy.[2]  Putting stickers on employer trucks can also create a false impression of employer endorsement, which would be another form of improper campaign contribution.  See Feeley, P-874-LU817-MGN

Albert Aguilar

October 31, 1996

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(September 17, 1996); Maney, P-956-IATSE-NYC et seq. (October 2, 1996), aff’d, 96 - Elec. App. - 251 (KC) (October 15, 1996); Knox, P-1006-SFD-MGN (October 14, 1996).


Furthermore, under Article XII, Section 1(b)(9) of the Rules, International officer candidates “are strictly liable to insure that each contribution received is permitted under the Rules.”  Therefore, affixing a campaign sticker or sign to an employer truck results in a violation of the Rules on the part of the candidate who the member intends to support.


The Election Officer finds that campaign stickers affixed to Vons trailers at the Sante Fe Springs and El Monte facilities is in violation of the Rules.  There is no evidence in the record as to the identities of the person or persons who are committing the violations.


Mr. Aguilar’s allegation of “an ongoing widespread pattern and practice” at Vons, however, is not supported by the evidence.  Given the large number of Vons trucks, tractors, and trailers, with as many as 500 trailers parked in a facility at any given time, the number of campaign stickers alleged by Mr. Aguilar is too small to indicate a widespread pattern.  Thus, the Election Officer finds insufficient evidence of involvement by Local Union 848.  Cf. Feeley,

P-874-LU817-MGN (September 17, 1996) (local union involvement indicated by concentrations of stickers at multiple work sites and by failure of local union to act effectively after notice from Election Officer); Maney, P-956-IATSE-NYC et seq. (October 2, 1996) (local union involve-ment indicated by appearance of stickers on trucks sponsored by local union in parade), aff’d,

96 - Elec. App. - 251 (KC) (October 15, 1996).


With respect to Vons, Mr. Aguilar’s own testimony is that Vons has been aggressive in removing improperly affixed stickers.  The Election Officer further notes that Vons has taken appropriate steps in response to this protest to continue to ensure removal of stickers and to prevent further occurrences.  “Immediate removal ends any potential impact of the improper campaigning.”  Hoffman, P-1050-LU817-NYC (October 28, 1996); Sweeney, P-1029-RCS-NYC et seq. (October 28, 1996).


For the foregoing reasons, the protest is RESOLVED with respect to Vons, DENIED with respect to Local Union 848, and GRANTED with respect to the Hoffa campaign.


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.


In this matter, the Election Officer notes that Local Union 848 posted a notice at the Vons facilities in Sante Fe Springs and El Monte, as quoted above.  The Election Officer orders that the notice remain posted on all local union bulletin boards at both facilities for 30 days after the date of this decision.


Albert Aguilar

October 31, 1996

Page 1



With respect to the role of International officer campaigns, the Election Officer has recently reaffirmed that “International officer candidates and slates have an obligation to take reasonable steps to ensure that their campaign materials are not affixed improperly to private property . . .”  Sweeney, P-1058-LU807-NYC (October 28, 1996); Willett, P-863-LU331-PNJ (August 16, 1996).  Thus, “[t]he Election Officer expects International officer campaigns, when they receive notice of protests involving campaign material improperly affixed to employer property, to take their share of responsibility for ensuring that such materials are removed promptly.”  Sweeney, P-1029-RCS-NYC et seq. (October 28, 1996). 


The Election Officer notes that the employer and the local union have undertaken aggressive and appropriate efforts to remove stickers and prevent further occurrences at the facilities in question.


Accordingly, the Election Officer finds that no further remedy is required at this time.


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, 1996).


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


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

Dolly M. Gee, Regional Coordinator


[1]Article VIII, Section 11(a) of the Rules states, All Union members retain the right to participate in campaign activities, including the right to . . . support or oppose any candidate, to aid or campaign for any candidate, and to make personal campaign contributions.

[2]This section states, No employer may contribute, or shall be permitted to contribute, directly or indirectly, anything of value, where the purpose, object or foreseeable effect of the contribution is to influence, positively or negatively, the election of a candidate.  Knowledge on the part of the employer is not an element of this violation.