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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Teamsters United, 2017 ESD 381

OFFICE OF THE ELECTION SUPERVISOR

for the

INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS

 

IN RE: TEAMSTERS UNITED,                 )           Protest Decision 2017 ESD 381

                                                                        )           Issued: February 15, 2017

            Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-388-101116-MW           

____________________________________)                      

 

Teamsters United 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 Teamsters National Black Caucus provided impermissible support to the Hoffa-Hall 2016 slate.

 

            Election Supervisor representative Joe Childers investigated this protest.

 

Findings of Fact and Analysis

 

The protestor alleged that a post on the Facebook page of the Teamsters National Black Caucus – Chicago chapter (“TNBC-Chicago”) – improperly endorsed the Hoffa-Hall 2016 slate. The post depicted a “sample ballot” instructing the voter how to vote for that slate.

 

Investigation showed that the Facebook page of TNBC-Chicago has little activity.  The post at issue in this protest was the only one from 2016 on the page. 

 

Investigation further showed Diahann A. Goode, a rank and file member of Local Union 700, administers the Facebook page and made the post at issue on or about October 10, 2016.  In an email she sent to Ramon Williams, president of TNBC-Chicago, Goode explained the post as follows:

 

President Ramon Williams,

 

On or about October 10, 2016 I accidentally posted a sample ballot for the Hoffa-Hall Slate on the TNBC Facebook page. Being an administrator for the TNBC Facebook Page, I accidentally posted this sample ballot to the TNBC Facebook page with the intention of posting to my personal Facebook page. I was notified on or about October 20, 2016 that this sample ballot was posted to the TNBC page and removed it immediately.

 

            The protest’s allegation has as its premise that TNBC-Chicago is a union affiliate of the IBT and the posting therefore reflects an endorsement by a union entity, or a use of union resources, in violation of Article VII, Sections 8(a) and 12(c) of the Rules.  We investigated the factual basis for this premise and conclude that TNBC-Chicago is an independent caucus of members, not a union entity. 

 

            TNBC-Chicago raises money from dues paid by its members, which it collects directly from members and not through any payroll deduction or check-off system administered by an employer or the union.  In addition, the chapter sponsors periodic fundraisers, where members sell tickets to individuals, to IBT locals, and specifically to Joint Council 25.  For the chapter’s December 2016 black-tie gala, it solicited IBT local unions and Joint Council 25 to purchase advertising space in its souvenir booklet.  President Williams told our representative he recalled only once in the past ten years that the national organization of Teamsters National Black Caucus purchased advertising space in the program booklet, and this was the sole remittance of financial support that TNBC-Chicago received from the national organization.  Aside from that single remittance, Williams stated that the national TNBC organization has not provided any funding to TNBC-Chicago.  Williams further stated that TNBC-Chicago receives no financial support or in-kind services from the IBT or any local union of the IBT.  Williams found out about the posting from another rank and file member who telephoned him on or about October 20, 2016. He then immediately telephoned Goode and asked her to remove the post. 

 

            Antonio Christian is the executive director of the national TNBC.  He told our representative that the national TNBC also raises money through dues of members and fundraisers.  He said that occasionally the IBT purchases ads in national TNBC publications and on further occasion also provides money for receptions hosted by the national TNBC.  In addition, the IBT promotes the national TNBC on its website, teamster.org.  Christian further stated that the chapters of TNBC are totally autonomous from both TNBC and the IBT, and the executive board of the national TNBC has no authority over chapters of TNBC, of which there currently are some 30 to 35 active.  Once a year, the national TNBC conducts a raffle and the money raised from each chapter is shared with that chapter.  However, Christian stated that no money received by the national TNBC from the IBT is shared with any chapters.

 

            The Rules define “independent committee” as “any person or entity not controlled by a candidate or slate who/which has accepted any campaign contribution, as defined by these Rules, or who/which has made any expenditure, where the purpose, object or foreseeable effective of the contribution or expenditure is to influence the election of International Officer candidate(s).”  Definition 24.  Article XI, Section 2(a) requires “[e]very independent committee which has received or solicited contributions in excess of $1,000, whether of money or of any other thing of value, or made expenditures in excess of $1,000, whether of money or of any other thing of value, where the purpose, object or foreseeable effect of any such contribution or expenditure is to influence the election of one or more International Officer candidates,” to file a CCER report of that activity.  We conclude on the facts of this investigation that the TNBC-Chicago organization was not controlled or funded by the IBT or any local union or joint council nor was it controlled by any candidate.  See Hoffa-Hall 2016, 2016 ESD 276 (July 20, 2016) (member caucus not controlled by any candidate and funded by contributions independent of union is an independent committee).  Accordingly, TNBC-Chicago was an independent committee within the meaning of the Rules and was free to use its Facebook page to support or oppose any candidate.[1]  We further conclude that the October 10 posting did not cause TNBC-Chicago to expend $1,000 or more on behalf of a candidate so as to trigger a CCER filing requirement.

 

            Were we to conclude that TNBC-Chicago was a union affiliate prohibited from providing support to a candidate, we would deem this protest resolved by the removal of the Facebook posting supporting Hoffa-Hall 2016 and the relatively brief duration during which it was posted.

 

            For these reasons, 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

JAMS

620 Eighth Avenue, 34th floor

New York, NY 10018

kroberts@jamsadr.com

 

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, c/o Jeffrey Ellison, 214 S. Main Street, Suite 212, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, 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

            2017 ESD 381

DISTRIBUTION LIST (BY EMAIL UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED):

 


Bradley T. Raymond, General Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters

25 Louisiana Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001

braymond@teamster.org

 

David J. Hoffa

1701 K Street NW, Ste 350

Washington DC 20036

hoffadav@hotmail.com

 

Ken Paff

Teamsters for a Democratic Union

P.O. Box 10128

Detroit, MI 48210-0128

ken@tdu.org

 

Barbara Harvey

1394 E. Jefferson Avenue

Detroit, MI 48207

blmharvey@sbcglobal.net

 

Teamsters United

315 Flatbush Avenue, #501

Brooklyn, NY 11217

info@teamstersunited.org

 

Louie Nikolaidis

350 West 31st Street, Suite 40

New York, NY 10001

lnikolaidis@lcnlaw.com

 

Julian Gonzalez

350 West 31st Street, Suite 40

New York, NY 10001

jgonzalez@lcnlaw.com

 

David O’Brien Suetholz

515 Park Avenue

Louisville, KY 45202

dave@unionsidelawyers.com

 

Fred Zuckerman

P.O. Box 9493

Louisville, KY 40209

fredzuckerman@aol.com

 


Teamsters National Black Caucus

tnbcchicagochapter@gmail.com

 

Joe Childers

Childerslaw81@gmail.com

 

Bill Broberg

wcbroberg@aol.com

 

Jeffrey Ellison

214 S. Main Street, Suite 212

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

EllisonEsq@aol.com



[1] The status of the national TNBC is not at issue in this protest, and our holding does not consider that entity or extend to it.