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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

October 8, 1998




Thomas  R. Salinas

October 8, 1998

Page 1


Thomas  R. Salinas

7023 Crested Quail

San Antonio, TX 78250


J.D. Potter

Rural Route 2, Box 651

Decatur, TX 76234


Thomas M. Burnette, President

Teamsters Local Union 19

223 Wood Street

Grapevine, TX 76051


James L. Hicks, Jr., Esq.

2777 N. Stemmons Freeway

Suite 1100

Dallas, TX 75207


James P. Hoffa

2593 Hounds Chase

Troy, MI 48098

Bradley T. Raymond, Esq.

Finkel, Whitefield, Selik,

  Raymond, Ferrara & Feldman

32300 Northwestern Highway

Suite 200

Farmington Hills, MI 48334


Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq.

Kennedy, Schwartz & Cure

113 University Place

New York, NY 10003


Tom Leedham Slate

c/o Tom Leedham Campaign Office

P.O. Box 15877

Washington, DC 20003

Thomas  R. Salinas

October 8, 1998

Page 1


Re: Election Office Case Nos.  PR-278-LU19-SOU





Related pre-election protests were filed pursuant to Article XIV, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 1995-1996 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (Rules) by

Tom Salinas, a member of Local Union 657 and an IBT International Representative, and

J.D. Potter, president of Local Union 19 and a candidate for International vice-president on the Hoffa Unity Slate (Hoffa Slate).  In PR-278, Mr. Salinas alleges that on September 4, 1998, at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport  while assisting at an informational picket line on behalf of the Local Union 2000-represented flight attendants employed by Northwest Airlines,

Mr. Potter accosted and threatened Mr. Salinas in violation of the Rules.  In addition,

Thomas  R. Salinas

October 8, 1998

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Mr. Salinas alleges that Mr. Potter and other members on the informational picket line were wearing campaign paraphernalia supporting Hoffa/Potter.  In PR-279, Mr. Potter alleges that Mr. Salinas, while on IBT-paid time was campaigning on behalf of the Tom Leedham Rank and File Power Slate (Leedham Slate) among the Northwest flight attendants.


Mr. Potter denies that he threatened Mr. Salinas and states that any vulgar language was used by Mr. Salinas.  Mr. Potter also states that he and other employees of Local Union 19 were on their lunch hour and therefore free to campaign for the Hoffa Slate.  Mr. Salinas denies any affiliation with the Leedham Slate[1] or engaging in any campaign activity.


These protests were investigated by Regional Coordinator Delores C. Hall


  1. Allegations Regarding Retaliation


Mr. Salinas, an IBT International Representative, was assigned by the IBT Field Services Department to assist in the Northwest Airlines contract campaign. Northwest flight attendants are represented by IBT Local Union 2000. The Northwest contract campaign is directed by a group within Local Union 2000 called the “Contract Action Team” (“CAT”).    Ray Bradford, a member of Local Union 2000 and a CAT coordinator, stated that Mr. Salinas was assigned by the IBT to assist Local 2000 in forming an informational picket line at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on September 4, 1998.  Mr. Salinas assisted Mr. Bradford by obtaining a megaphone for use by the flight attendants and by videotaping and photographing the picket line at Mr. Bradford’s request.


Prior to the date set for the picket line, Mr. Bradford contacted the local unions in the immediate area, asking them to show their support for the flight attendants by coming out and walking with them.  Mr. Bradford believes that Local Union 19 was the only area local union which responded. 


The investigator interviewed Mr. Salinas on two separate occasions.  Mr. Salinas states

that he was assigned to work with Local Union 2000.  On September 4, he was working at the informational picket line.  He wore ordinary clothes and had no campaign material of any sort on his person.  After the informational picket line had begun, a group of four to five people from Local Union 19 arrived, including Mr. Potter.  The members from Local Union 19 walked the picket line for about 25 minutes.  Mr. Potter and the people with him were wearing Hoffa/Potter campaign materials.  At one point when the Local Union 19 picketers came around to where Mr. Salinas was standing, Mr. Potter came up to him and used vulgar and threatening language if Mr. Salinas “didn’t stay out of his area.”  Mr. Salinas states that

Thomas  R. Salinas

October 8, 1998

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Mr. Potter made vulgar remarks about Mr. Salinas’ mother and kept “inviting me out to the parking lot.”  When Mr. Salinas refused this offer, Mr. Potter repeatedly called him a coward.


Mr. Potter gave a different version of the incident.  Mr. Potter states that he did not know who Mr. Salinas was but he was “in everybody’s face taking pictures” and was taking pictures of the Local Union 19 members on the picket line.  Mr. Potter asked Mr. Salinas who he was, to which Mr. Salinas responded, “My name is Tom Salinas of the Leedham Slate.”  Mr. Potter states he then told Mr. Salinas that he would appreciate his checking in with him when he was in his area and what he was doing there.  Mr. Potter denies using vulgar language or threatening Mr. Salinas.  Indeed, Mr. Potter stated that Mr. Salinas told Mr. Potter to “Go f--- yourself.”   Mike Ellison, a business representative of Local Union 19, first told the investigator that he was close enough to hear the conversation.  Mr. Ellison basically corroborated Mr. Potter’s version, but when questioned, stated that he “thought” he heard

Mr. Salinas identify himself as being with the Leedham campaign, and admitted he did not hear the entire encounter.  There were no other witnesses to the conversation.


Mr. Bradford did not hear the conversation between Messrs. Salinas and Potter.  He states that after the rally was over, Mr. Salinas pulled him over and said there was a problem. 

Mr. Bradford stated that Mr. Salinas appeared to be “shook up and frightened.”  Mr. Salinas told Mr. Bradford that Mr. Potter had threatened to “break his body and whip his ass” if

Mr. Salinas did not stay out of Mr. Potter’s territory.  Mr. Salinas related to Mr. Bradford that Mr. Potter had invited him out in the street and called Mr. Salinas a coward when Mr. Salinas did not accept the challenge.  Mr. Bradford stated that he believed that Mr. Salinas was threatened by Mr. Potter because he was visibly shaking and Mr. Bradford could tell that

Mr. Salinas was genuinely scared.


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


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.


Article VIII, Section 11(f) is violated when members engage in physically or verbally aggressive behavior that threatens actual harm.  Cecere, P-935-LU122-ENG (October 23, 1996) (driving car at campaigners and swerving before hitting them); Passo, P-469-LU705-CHI (February 29, 1996) (intentionally provoking physical confrontation), affd in rel. part,

96 - Elec. App. - 124 (KC) (March 13, 1996); Lopez, P-456-LU743-CHI (April 10, 1996) (saying Ill kill you where ongoing animosity exists between parties); Smith, P-600-LU150-CSF (April 30, 1996) (saying youll be taken out of here in a body bag); Kelly,

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P-600-LU705-CHI (March 27, 1991) (aggressively threatening to kick their ass made in menacing manner); and Teller, PR-059-PNW (February 18, 1998) (repeated physical threats).


The Election Officer credits the statements of Mr. Salinas and Mr. Bradford for the following reasons:  During Ms. Halls initial interview of Mr. Potter and her interview of

Mr. Ellison, their attorney, James Hicks, stated that Messrs. Potter and Ellison had prepared statements about the incident when they returned to the Local Union 19 office on September 4.  The investigator asked Mr. Potter to forward the statements to her.  These statements were received by Ms. Hall from Mr. Hicks office by facsimile on September 24.  However, it is clear from reading Mr. Potters statement that it was not written upon his return to his office on September 4.  Indeed, the statement cites information such as I left the office on business that afternoon and did not return, and Since the events described above occurred . . . .  Therefore, the Election Officer finds that these are not contemporaneous recollections of the events but were written after September 4, and in the investigators opinion subsequent to her interview with Mr. Potter.  In his interview, Mr. Ellison admitted that he was not sure that Mr. Salinas identified himself as being with the Leedham Campaign or the Leedham Slate, and admitted that he did not hear the entire conversation between Messrs. Potter and Salinas.


While it is always difficult to assess credibility, the Election Officer finds that given

Mr. Salinas political affiliations, Mr. Potters statement that he introduced himself as from the Leedham campaign is not credible.  Moreover, it seems unlikely that Mr. Salinas, who was assigned by the IBT to work at the informational picket line, would introduce himself to a candidate on the Hoffa Slate as being from the Leedham campaign.  Finally, the Election Officer believes the Mr. Potter physically threatened Mr. Salinas based upon Mr. Bradfords statement that he believed Mr. Salinas because he was visibly shaking and Mr. Bradford could tell that Mr. Salinas was genuinely scared.


There is no question that the threat was related to Mr. Potters perception that

Mr. Salinas supported Mr. Leedham.  In this circumstance, the Election Officer finds that

Mr. Potters actions constitute a serious violation of Article VIII, Section 11(f).


II.                Allegations Regarding Wearing Campaign Paraphernalia


The facts are not in dispute.  Mr. Potter and other members of Local Union 19 wore Hoffa/Potter or Hoffa paraphernalia while walking the informational picket line.  Mr. Salinas contends that this action was improper.


Thomas  R. Salinas

October 8, 1998

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The Rules at Article VIII, Section 11(a) and (b) provide that all Union members, including Union members who are Union officers and employees, have the right to participate in campaign activities, including the right “to openly support or oppose any candidate [and] to aid or campaign for any candidate.”  The Rules at Article VIII, Section 11(d) also provide that “no restrictions shall be placed upon candidates’ or members’ preexisting rights to solicit support, distribute leaflets or literature, conduct campaign rallies, hold fundraising events or engage in similar activities on employer or Union premises.”  Among the rights so protected by the Rules is the right of IBT members to wear campaign emblems on buttons, t-shirts or hats while working. A member’s right to engage in wearing campaign emblems is not limited merely because the member is employed by the Union.


In the Advisory on Wearing Campaign Buttons and Other Emblems, the Election Officer stated that this right is circumscribed as follows:


[W]hile Union officers, business agents, and employees may wear campaign emblems during working hours and while engaged in their regular Union business, they may not wear such emblems when representing the Union before or with an unrelated third party.  Thus, Union officers, business agents and employees may not wear campaign emblems when meeting with an employer of IBT members for collective bargaining or grievance resolution, when participating either as an advocate, witness or panel member in grievance hearings, when appearing on behalf of the Union before legislative, administrative or judicial tribunals, when making public appearances on behalf of the Union, or when engaged in similar type activities where the wearing of a campaign emblem might inappropriately suggest that the Union with which the officer, business agent or other employee is affiliated, is, as an entity supporting or opposing any particular candidate or group of candidates.


Therefore, the issue is whether Mr. Potter and other officers of Local Union 19 were “engaged in similar type activities where the wearing of a campaign emblem might inappropriately suggest that [Local Union 19] . . ., is, as an entity supporting or opposing any particular candidate or group of candidates.”  Here, Local Union 2000, not Local Union 19, sponsored the informational picket line.  Neither Mr. Potter, nor any other officer of Local Union 19, was invited to give a speech or otherwise publicly announce themselves at this event.  Thus, it is the Election Officer’s view that the wearing of campaign paraphernalia in this situation did not convey that Local Union 19 was supporting Messrs. Hoffa and Potter.  Mr. Potter and the other members of his local union, were just like any other member of the IBT, and therefore the wearing of campaign paraphernalia did not violate the Rules.


III.                Allegation that Mr. Salinas was Campaigning on IBT Time


Mr. Potter readily admits that Mr. Salinas was not wearing campaign paraphernalia or passing out materials on behalf of any candidate.  Other than Mr. Potter’s statement the

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October 8, 1998

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Mr. Salinas introduced himself as being from the Leedham campaign, which the Election Officer has not credited, Mr. Potter has presented no evidence to support this contention.


Accordingly, the PR-278 is GRANTED as to the retaliation by Mr. Potter; and the protests are DENIED in all other respects.


When the Election Officer determines that the Rules have been violated, he “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.


As the Election Officer stated in Moriarity, PR-056-LU986-EOH (April 27, 1998), aff’d,

98 - Elec. App. - 351 (KC) (June 3, 1998),


Under the Rules, coercion is considered so serious a violation that the Election Officer may remedy the conduct even if it does not meet the “may have affected the outcome of the election” standard applicable to most post-election protests.


While no member may engage in retaliation against another member under the Rules, the Election Officer has also stated that “[those who seek to hold office through the democratic process established under the Consent Decree cannot abuse the democratic process . . .”  See Moriarty, supra.  Therefore, candidates in the Rerun Election must scrupulously observe and adhere to the Rules.


Since the Election Officer has found that Mr. Potter retaliated against Mr. Salinas, he believes that it is essential that those members from whom he is seeking election be advised of the violation.  Therefore, the Election Officer orders the following:


1.  Mr. Potter is ordered to cease and desist from retaliating against any IBT member based upon his or her support for the candidacy of any individual or slate in the International Officer Rerun Election.



2.  By October 16, Mr. Potter will sign the attached “Notice to all IBT Members in the Southern Region from J.D. Potter” and send it to all local unions in the Southern Region via First Class Mail.  This Notice directs those local unions to post the Notice on its bulletin boards at the local unions through December 3, 1998.  The costs of duplicating the Notice, postage and any work involved in complying with this order will be borne by the J.D. Potter Campaign.


Thomas  R. Salinas

October 8, 1998

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3.  By October 19, 1998, Mr. Potter will file an affidavit with the Election Office detailing his compliance with this order and demonstrating that the costs of compliance were borne by his campaign.  Mr. Potter will attach a list of those local unions which were sent the Notice.


Any interested party not satisfied with this determination may request a hearing before the Election Appeals Master within one (1) 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, 444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 445, Washington, DC  20001, Facsimile (202) 624-3525.  A copy of the protest must accompany the request for a hearing.







Michael G. Cherkasky

Election Officer





cc:              Kenneth Conboy, Election Appeals Master

Delores Hall, Regional Coordinator









IBT Election Officer Michael G. Cherkasky has found that I retaliated against an IBT member in violation of the Election Rules

by threatening him with a physical altercation based upon my view that he supported a candidate in the International Officer Rerun Election whose is running on a different slate than the one I am a candidate on.


Retaliation is strictly prohibited by the Election Rules.  I have been ordered to cease and desist from such conduct.             



Date:___________                            By:___________________________

J.D. Potter

                                                                             Candidate for Southern Region




This is an official notice that must remain posted until December 3, 1998, and must not be defaced or altered in any manner or be covered with any other material.



Approved by Michael G. Cherkasky, IBT Election Officer.

[1]Mr. Salinas states that in his free time, he has been campaigning for the John Metz Slate.