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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Cummins, 2020 ESD 36


for the



IN RE: CHRISTOPHER CUMMINS,       )           Protest Decision 2020 ESD 36

                                                                        )           Issued: December 22, 2020

Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-037-101420-MW



Christopher Cummins, member of Local Union 89, filed a pre-election protest pursuant to Article XIII, Section 2(b) of the Rules for the 2020-2021 IBT International Union Delegate and Officer Election (“Rules”).  The protest alleged that Local Union 89 principal officer Fred Zuckerman campaigned against protestor Cummins during a special membership meeting of the local union, in violation of the Rules.


Election Supervisor representative Joe Childers investigated this protest.


Findings of Fact


            A special membership meeting of Local Union 89 was held October 12, 2020 to consider three proposed amendments to local union bylaws.  The amendment process requires that each proposal be submitted to and reviewed by the local union executive board, and then presented to the membership with the executive board’s recommendation for adoption or rejection.  The proposals offered at the October 12 meeting were 1) to amend bylaws to reduce the initiation fee for part-time workers from $100 to $50; 2) to alter the voting process for local union elections from the current hybrid mail ballot/in-person voting to mail ballot exclusively; and 3) to limit consideration of bylaw amendments to once per year, in January.  Protestor Cummins proposed the second bylaw amendment.


            President and principal officer Fred Zuckerman chaired the special meeting.  Before reaching the proposed bylaw amendments, he reported to the assembled members on what he characterized as several “lies” that unnamed persons were disseminating.  Among the issues Zuckerman addressed were the following:


  • A contention that union negotiators withdrew local proposals in the 2013 UPS negotiations in exchange for placing local union staff, including himself, into the UPS pension system.  Zuckerman stated that the contention was false, that all staff were members of the Central States Pension System and had been for a long time.
  • A contention that Zuckerman sought to put UPS back into the Central States Pension System, which Zuckerman stated was false.
  • A contention that local union staff had “golden parachutes” which would pay them a benefit when they retired.  Zuckerman stated this claim was false, that the local union previously had a severance plan but did away with it.
  • A contention that a disability benefit negotiated for certain UPS members had a $500 per week cap.  Zuckerman stated this was false, that the benefit negotiated had no cap.
  • A contention that Zuckerman, a candidate for IBT office, had campaigned in Chicago one day recently on union-paid time.  Zuckerman stated that he took the day off and used a vacation day to cover his compensation, stating further that what he did on his vacation time was his business.
  • A contention that Zuckerman was entitled to four pensions.  Zuckerman stated his only pension was in the Central States plan and that he had 41 years of credited service.
  • A contention that doors to the union hall were locked at a previous meeting when bylaw amendments were considered to prevent members who supported the amendments from voting.  Zuckerman stated this was false and offered to present the sergeants at arms as proof.


Investigation showed that some of the statements Zuckerman refuted had appeared in social media posts of Anthony Blair, a political ally of Cummins and a long-time opponent of Zuckerman.  Most of Blair’s posts were months old, if not older, at the time of the October 12 meeting, concerned UPS negotiations in previous years and compensation for local union officers and employees, and were made outside the context of the local union officers election.  In addition, Zuckerman responded to a statement Cummins made in at least one social media post of recent origin, concerning Zuckerman’s Chicago campaign appearance.  Zuckerman said he was publicly refuting what he regarded as “lies” because they were hurting the union in its organizing efforts.  He said that anti-union forces seized on the “lies” as proof that union leaders are crooks and self-dealers and do not and will not help their members.  Zuckerman told our investigator that, in his years as local union president, he has in the past refuted similar statements that distorted facts, and that what he did at the October 12 meeting was no different than his previous actions in this regard.


In refuting each contention at the meeting, Zuckerman did not identify any person or persons who had made the claims he characterized as false.  Nor in making his remarks did he refer to the then-upcoming officers election or the delegates and alternate delegates election or the candidacy of any person in those elections.  He did propose that the person(s) come up after the meeting to set terms of a debate on the contentions to be held at a subsequent meeting, warning that they better bring proof of their claims because he would have proof that the claims were false.  There is no evidence that his debate proposal was accepted.


            Zuckerman then turned to the proposed bylaw amendments.  He stated that the executive board supported amending the bylaws to cut the initiation fee for part-time employees so as to make it easier for the local union to organize a complement of part-timers.  The amendment passed on voice vote.


            Zuckerman then stated that the local union executive board recommended against adopting the second amendment, which Cummins had proposed.  Zuckerman stated that the hybrid balloting system in place for local union officers elections allowed members who lived and worked far from the union hall to vote by mail while permitting long-haul truck drivers who live hundreds of miles from the hall but visited transportation hubs in Louisville frequently to vote in-person.  The proposed amendment to turn exclusively to mail ballot officers elections was defeated by voice vote. 


            Zuckerman stated that the executive board supported the final proposal to limit bylaw amendments to once a year.  He stated that members he did not name planned to propose amendments frequently, as often as monthly, and that this third proposal would limit that distraction while still permitting amendments to be made.  The proposed amendment passed by voice vote.


            Protestor Cummins told our investigator that he and a small group of supporters attended the meeting and sat at the front of the hall.  Cummins said that during the several minutes that Zuckerman devoted to refuting the “lies,” Zuckerman stared at him.  The effect, according to Cummins, was to convey to the assembled members that Cummins was responsible for propagating the “lies” even though Zuckerman did not identify him (or anyone) by name.  Geraldine Dawson, a Cummins supporter who attended the meeting and sat in front of Cummins, confirmed that Zuckerman stared at the group when attacking the “lies,” although she could not verify that Zuckerman stared at Cummins in particular.  Cummins stated that he attempted to get Zuckerman’s attention so that he could speak in support of his proposed bylaw amendment, but that Zuckerman ignored him. 


            Zuckerman denied that he stared at Cummins or his group during his remarks before presenting the proposed bylaw amendments.  Local union trustee Rob Colone, observing the meeting from the back of the hall, said that Zuckerman looked across the assembled members while making the remarks, as a speaker to a large gathering customarily would.


Cummins told our investigator that Zuckerman has used a blog to attack his candidacy for local union president and that Zuckerman’s remarks from the podium at the meeting were a continuation of those attacks.  The blog, titled Hourly Workers Unite to Expose Lies[1], criticized Cummins by name, first by identifying him as a previous supporter of Zuckerman who had turned against him.  The blog claimed that Cummins had no experience in union representation, had never been or sought to become a shop steward, the lowest rank of union representative, and had never walked a picket line.  A post to the blog called out as false what it said was Cummins’ claim that he had negotiated hundreds or thousands of contracts.  Further, the blog post asserted that Cummins was supported in his candidacy to be president of Local Union 89 by General President Hoffa, Steve Vairma, and members of the Teamsters Power slate, which the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate is competing against in the IBT International officers election.  In addition, the blog post asserted that Cummins sought to run Local Union 89 so he could embezzle union funds.  Zuckerman raised none of these issues at the October 12 meeting.  None of the “lies” Zuckerman refuted from the podium are mentioned in the blog.


The blog post also discussed Cummins’ proposed bylaw amendment to change the balloting in the officers election to exclusively mail-ballot, characterizing the proposal as Cummins’ attempt to take away the rights of Local Union 89 members.  A blog post on this subject attacked Cummins as dishonest in his alleged assertion that members who live within 15 miles of the union hall could vote only in-person, when such members could vote by mail merely by requesting a mail ballot.  The blog post further asserted that the existing balloting process granted members more rights (the option of voting by mail or in-person) and that Cummins’ proposal would take away that option.  Zuckerman made this same point at the October 12 meeting.


            Local Union 89’s officers election concluded December 5, 2020.  Zuckerman and Cummins competed for the position of local union president.  Zuckerman won the contest by approximately a three-to-one margin.  If contested, ballots in the local union’s delegates and alternate delegates election will be mailed February 5 and counted March 2, 2021.




            Cummins’ protest asserts that Zuckerman’s statements during the October 12 special meeting constituted campaigning against him and that such campaigning violated the Rules.  Article VII, Section 5(a) grants “candidates” specific rights at membership meetings.  The term “candidate” is defined in the Rules as “any member who is actively seeking nomination or election for any Convention delegate or alternate delegate position …”  As such, the membership meeting rights the Rules grant to candidates do not extend to local union officer elections, which are beyond the scope of the Rules.  Jordan, 2001 EAD 76 (January 3, 2001); Collett, 2000 EAD 66 (December 19, 2000); Hale, 2000 EAD 61 (December 12, 2000); Weronke, P867 (August 19, 1996); Bishop, 2011 ESD 112 (February 14, 2011).


            First, no evidence was presented during the investigation that, as of October 12, 2020, Cummins had become a candidate or announced his candidacy for delegate or alternate delegate.  If we infer from his contest for the presidency of the local union that he intended also to stand for nomination as delegate in an election to be held three months later, the rights the Rules grant him as delegate candidate generally would permit him to attend membership meetings but would not grant him the right to campaign there unless that right were extended to or exercised by another candidate.  Thus:


  • Article VII, Section 5(a)(1) grants a candidate the right to attend any meeting of the local union to which he belongs as a member, but the local union “need not grant such candidate the opportunity to address the meeting for the purpose of campaigning unless a similar opportunity is granted to another candidate.”
  • Section 5(a)(4) of the same article prohibits discrimination in favor or against any candidate at meetings.  According to this provision, “[t]his requirement shall apply not only to formal presentations by or on behalf of candidates but also to informal campaign activities, such as, for example, comments on candidates during meetings, literature distribution at meetings, literature distribution tables, etc.”
  • Section 5(a)(3), while acknowledging that a local union need not permit campaign activity at meetings, states that if it does so, it must notify all candidates at least five days prior to the meeting that campaigning will be permitted, with time allotted equally between candidates (or their representatives) requesting to speak.


This protest presents two issues: first, were the Rules implicated by Zuckerman’s remarks at the October 12 meeting?  Second, if so, did Zuckerman’s refutation of “lies” constitute campaigning for himself for delegate (or International office) or an attack on Cummins as an opposing candidate for delegate?  We answer each question in the negative.


On the first question, we conclude that any statements Zuckerman made at the October 12 meeting cannot reasonably be construed as attacks on Cummins as a candidate for delegate.  We reach this conclusion because mailing of ballots in the local union’s delegates and alternate delegates election was three months away.  At the time of the meeting, the local union was in the midst of its officers election, which would be decided on December 5.  Moreover, no mention was made at the meeting to the delegates election, nor was any person – Cummins, in particular – identified there as a candidate in the delegates election (indeed, there is no evidence that Cummins was a candidate for a delegate position).  Accordingly, we find that the Rules did not regulate the statements Zuckerman made at the meeting.


This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the statements to which Zuckerman responded either were made in social media posts that were not themselves campaign material or were made in posts that were campaign material explicitly for the local union officers election.  We have held that a local union officer’s response to International officer election campaign literature at a membership meeting constitutes campaigning at the meeting, which can occur only with advance notice to all candidates and the equivalent opportunity for campaigning.  Hardison, 2006 ESD 158 (March 28, 2006) (responding from podium to dues increase issue raised in campaign flyer constituted impermissible campaigning at membership meeting); Wigley, P668 (April 18, 1996) (disparaging opposition and its campaign literature from podium during union meeting constitutes illegal campaigning).  Here, however, we find that Zuckerman’s statements were not responses to campaigning in the local union delegates election, and the Rules therefore do not apply.  Because his statements did not constitute campaigning under the Rules, Zuckerman had no obligation to offer a campaigning opportunity to any other candidate, including Cummins, even if he were a candidate for International convention delegate. 


On a final issue, we find that the statements Zuckerman made concerning the proposed bylaw amendments were in furtherance of his right and duty to report to the membership the local union executive board’s recommendations with respect to the proposals.


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.  Any party requesting a hearing must comply with the requirements of Article XIII, Section 2(i).  All parties are reminded that, absent extraordinary circumstances, no party may rely in any such appeal upon evidence that was not presented to the Office of the Election Supervisor.  Requests for a hearing shall be made in writing, shall specify the basis for the appeal, and shall be served upon:


Barbara Jones

Election Appeals Master


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, all within the time prescribed above.  Service may be accomplished by email, using the “reply all” function on the email by which the party received this decision.  A copy of the protest must accompany the request for hearing.


                                                                  Richard W. Mark

                                                                  Election Supervisor

cc:       Barbara Jones

            2020 ESD 36







Bradley T. Raymond, General Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters


Edward Gleason


Patrick Szymanski


Will Bloom


Tom Geoghegan


Rob Colone


Barbara Harvey


Kevin Moore


F.C. “Chris” Silvera


Fred Zuckerman


Ken Paff

Teamsters for a Democratic Union

Christopher Cummins


Teamsters Local Union 89


Joe Childers


W.C. Broberg


Jeffrey Ellison




[1], last viewed December 22, 2020.