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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

October 27, 1998




Ken Mee

October 27, 1998

Page 1


Ken Mee

42356 Greenbrier Park Drive

Fremont, CA 94538


Chuck Mack, President

Teamsters Joint Council 7

250 Executive Park Boulevard

Suite 3100

San Francisco, CA 94134


Hoffa Slate

c/o Patrick J. Szymanski, Esq.

Baptiste & Wilder

1150 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Suite 500

Washington, DC 20036


Tom Leedham Campaign Office

P.O. Box 15877

Washington, DC 20003


Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq.

Kennedy, Schwartz & Cure

113 University Place

New York, NY 10003


James P. Hoffa

2593 Hounds Chase

Troy, MI 48098

Ken Mee

October 27, 1998

Page 1


Re:  Election Office Case No. PR-337-JC7-EOH




Ken Mee, a member of Local Union 287 and a candidate for International vice president, 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”) against Joint Council 7. 

Mr. Mee alleged that the most recent issue of the Northern California Teamster (“Northern”), the official union-financed newsletter of Joint Council 7, contained campaign material.  The protest also alleged that the Northern was mailed in violation of the Election Officer’s hiatus on regularly published union-financed publications.  Joint Council 7 denied that the Northern contained any material which violated the Rules


The protest was investigated by Election Office Staff Attorney Kathryn Naylor and Election Office Counsel David S. Paull.


Ken Mee

October 27, 1998

Page 1


The investigation discloses that the most recent issue of the Northern, dated for October of 1998, was mailed out to all members of the 21 local unions affiliated with Joint Council 7 on October 7, 1998.  In excess of 60,000 members received a copy of the newsletter in the mail. 


The Northern contained an article entitled “Judge Edelstein Sets Teamster Election Date.”  The article generally reported on the pending International officer rerun election, covering such subjects as the date the ballots will be mailed out and the recent dispute concerning election funding. 


Under the subtitle “Election Prologue,” the article reviews recent actions taken against former General President Ron Carey and generally describes the three major current candidates for the office.  The article specifically contains the following sentences:


With the disqualification of Ron Carey and the departure of Ken Hall, James Hoffa has emerged as a very strong candidate, currently serving as Executive Assistant to the President of Michigan Teamster Joint Council 43 Larry Brennan.  James Hoffa has undoubtedly benefitted from the mystique of the Hoffa name. 


The article refers to Tom Leedham, an opposing candidate for general president, as an “unassuming International V.P.”  The article further states:


Leedham concedes that his ‘Rank and File Power Slate’ does not have a big budget.  He promises to go back to the basics and to talk about the things our members care about. 


While approximately seven column inches are devoted to coverage of Mr. Hoffa and

Mr. Leedham, only two column inches refer to John Metz, a third candidate for general president.  Mr. Metz, according to the article, is “backed by the current acting president of the International in D.C., Tom Sever and several Eastern locals.”


The Election Officer’s Final 1996 IBT International Officer Rerun Election Plan (Revised September, 1998) (“Rerun Plan”), provides at Section III (B) that “No Union publication shall be published and distributed to the members during the period that begins October 12, 1998, and ends on December 3, 1998.”  (emphasis original)  The Northern was mailed five days prior to the hiatus and therefore does not violate the Rerun Plan.


Ken Mee

October 27, 1998

Page 1


Article VIII, Section 8(a) of the Rules states that a union-financed publication or communication may not be “used to support or attack any candidate or the candidacy of any person.”  In reviewing union-financed communications for improper campaign content, the Election Officer looks to the tone, content and timing of the publication.  Martin, P-010-IBT-PNJ, et seq. (August 17, 1995), affd, 95 - Elec. App. - 18 (KC) (October 2, 1995). The Election Officer also considers the context in which the communications appeared.


              In Martin, the Election Officer recognized that union officers and officials have a “right and responsibility to exercise the powers of their office to advise and report to the membership on issues of general concern.” (quoting Camarata v. International Bhd. of Teamsters, 478 F. Supp. 321, 330 (D.D.C. 1979), aff’d, 108 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2924 (D.C.Cir. 1981).  Collective bargaining is one of these issues.  Michaels, P-205-LU407-CLE (November 8, 1995);  Riley, P-101-IBT-EOH (August 23, 1995), aff’d, 95 - Elec. App. - 14 (KC) (September 29, 1995);  Hoffa, P-1181-IBT-EOH (November 18, 1996); Hoffa, P-808-IBT-SCE (June 28, 1996), aff’d, 96 - Elec.  App. - 213 (July 17, 1996).


The article contains material which supports the candidacy of  Mr. Hoffa.  The Rules are not violated when a union-financed publication contains general information about the candidates including their union experience or their current position within the IBT, so long as each candidate is treated equally.  However, a union-financed publication may not advocate for or against a candidate.  The Election Officer notes that Mr. Hoffa’s campaign theme of unifying the union is stated in the article, but no issue or theme is attributed to Mr. Leedham or Mr. Metz.  The article contains remarks speculating about who the front-runner may currently be and the image that may be projected by a particular candidate.  These items may advance or frustrate a campaign, depending of the disposition of each member.   Using the word “strong” in connection with Mr. Hoffa and “unassuming” in connection with Mr. Leedham may simultaneously attack Mr. Leedham and advance Mr. Hoffa, depending on the view of the individual voter.     Regardless of the effect of these phrases, such commentary does not belong in a union-financed newsletter.  It is also improper, under the Rules, to devote seven column inches of space to two candidates and less than half that amount to a third.


Accordingly, the protest is GRANTED.


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.


The timing and distribution of the protested publication contributed both to the conclusion that a violation had occurred and to the devising of an appropriate remedy. The use of union resources to campaign for one or more candidates in a union-financed publication is a serious issue, especially within a few weeks of the ballot mailing.  Joint Council 7 acted at its peril when it printed opinions about the characteristics of the candidates in a union-financed newsletter, especially so close to the election. 


Ken Mee

October 27, 1998

Page 1


In consequence, the Election Officer orders Joint Council 7 to mail to each member who was mailed a copy of the Northern, the attached “Notice To Members of All Local Unions Affiliated with Joint Council 7.”  This notice will inform members and that their dues money was improperly spent to campaign for candidates in the International rerun election.  The Notice must be mailed and postmarked by November 2, 1998. 


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 (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














The Election Officer has determined that the officers of  Joint Council 7 improperly used your monthly dues money to print partisan campaign items in the most recent issue of the Northern California Teamster, a union-financed  publication.  This action was taken by your Joint Council 7 officers in disregard for the laws covering the use of union funds for campaign purposes and the Election Rules, which provide in part that “[N]o publication or communication financed, directly or indirectly, by a Union may be used to support or attack any candidate or the candidacy of any person.”


You are reminded that the candidate or candidates who you choose to support or not to support in the International officer rerun election are strictly up to you.  It is improper for any union officer or group of union officers to attempt to influence that important decision by causing partisan material to be printed in a union newsletter which is financed by your own dues monies.







Michael G. Cherkasky

Election Officer









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.