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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Bucalo, 2021 ESD 57


for the



IN RE: SAM BUCALO,                               )           Protest Decision 2021 ESD 57

                                                                        )           Issued: February 17, 2021

Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-048-011121-ME



Sam Bucalo, member of Local Union 100, 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 the newsletter published by Local Union 100 violated the Rules because it constituted union support for campaigning.


Election Supervisor representative Dan Walsh investigated this protest.


Findings of Fact and Analysis


Local Union 100 mailed its newsletter, Teamster Talk, to members in late December 2020 and posted it to its Facebook page on January 9, 2021.  Protestor Bucalo alleged that the newsletter violated the Rules because it was “campaigny in nature.”


Article VII, Section 8(a) of the Rules prohibits use of union-financed publications or communications “to support or attack any candidate or the candidacy of any person.”  The “tone, timing and content” test is used to determine whether such publications engage in impermissible campaigning.  Martin, P10 (August 17, 1995), aff’d, 95 EAM 18 (October 2, 1995); Jacob, P71 (September 7, 1995), aff'd, 95 EAM 19 (October 3, 1995); Ruscigno, P67 (July 19, 1995); Lewis, 2001 EAD 357 (May 9, 2001).  The Election Supervisor must also review “the specific context in which the communication takes place.”  Jacobsupra.


Martin, 95 EAM 18 (October 2, 1995), holds that an incumbent has “a right and responsibility,” as a union officer, to “advise and report to the membership on issues of general concern” to the membership, and is “entitled to use union publications to express [his] views.” [Citations omitted] “A union publication may report on the regular functions, policies, and activities of an incumbent officer, but may not provide coverage that supports the incumbent’s candidacy for union office.”  In general terms, “newsworthy articles or articles which contain purely factual information are generally permissible.”  However, “the publication of too many articles regarding a candidate for union office, however newsworthy, may indicate that union officials have [impermissibly] used the publication as a tool of the candidate’s campaign.”  Further, a union president’s messages that tout his accomplishments as union president can be impermissibly “promotional” in advance of a union election. 


Bucalo asserts that the newsletter fails in three ways.  First, he argues that the articles published in the newsletter are not newsworthy.  Second, he contends that the newsletter mentions the names of the officers of the local union too often, and that their mentions are “campaigny” in nature.  Finally, he argues that delivery of the newsletter, with these faults, was timed to place the names of the local union officers before members immediately in conjunction with the delegates and alternate delegates election, rendering the newsletter a campaign piece intended to promote their candidacies.


The newsletter makes no mention of the delegates and alternate delegates election or the candidacy of any person in that election, local union officers and business agents included.  These facts are an indication that no Rules violation has occurred.  Nonetheless, we review the newsletter under the tone, timing, and content standard.


Addressing timing first, the nominations meeting for Local Union 100’s delegates and alternate delegates election was held February 4, 2021, more than a month after the newsletter was mailed to local union members and nearly four weeks after the online posting.  The nominations meeting resulted in a contested election; ballots will be mailed to members March 10, more than two months after the online posting.  Ballots will be counted April 6, 2021. 


Local union president Bill Davis denied that the production of the newsletter was timed in conjunction with the election.  He told our investigator that the effort to adjust to the responsibilities of office in the midst of a pandemic delayed publication.  Local union leadership sought to mail the newsletter in advance of a scheduled November 2020 blood drive, but it was not ready until late December, after a local union executive board meeting that discussed the need to publish it.


No local union newsletter had been published since February 2016.  Davis stated that during the local union officers election in late 2019, his slate campaigned on a platform that included improving communication with the membership, of which revival of the newsletter was a part.


On these facts, we find that the timing of the newsletter publication, coming two months before mailing of ballots, weighs against finding a Rules violation, as the publication occurred at a time sufficiently distant from the balloting to affect members’ votes in that election.


Turning to content, the mailed version of Teamster Talk was printed on 11” x 17” paper folded to produce four pages of 8½” x 11” print.  Beneath the masthead and color drawing of the local union hall on the first page were three brief[1] articles.  The first reported that a successful blood drive was held November 21, 2020; the second reported that monthly local union meetings in 2021 would include the option to attend online; the third declared that the local union’s finances were “rock solid.”  Only the article concerning local union finances mentioned an officer’s name, that of the secretary-treasurer.  


With respect to the articles published on the first page of the newsletter, Bucalo argues that the blood drive article was not newsworthy because it reported on the blood drive after it was completed.  While Bucalo concedes that the article announcing an online means to attend future membership meetings is newsworthy, he argues that the local union leadership should have opted for such an arrangement months earlier than it did.  Finally, he criticizes the report on local union finances because it did not include specific dollar figures.


None of Bucalo’s criticisms of the articles on the first page of the newsletter implicates the Rules.  The articles were factual, did not mention the delegates and alternate delegates election, and did not laud any particular person in the context of seeking election in that race.  With respect to the article on local union finances, we conclude after reviewing local union financial reports provided us for the period January through November 2020 (the period the newsletter article addressed) that the article’s characterization of the local union’s finances as “rock solid” is not unfair, as local union assets grew by more than ten percent over that period.


Most of the second page of the newsletter was devoted to “A Message from the President.”  That piece recounted the experience the officers and business agents had in addressing backlogged grievances and the overarching issues presented by the covid-19 pandemic, after they took office in January 2020.  The article did not contain any undue praise for local union leadership or refer to the delegates and alternate delegates election.


A small article on the second page reported the purchase of cloth masks and sanitizer.  This article was newsworthy.


Bucalo argues that Davis’s review of how new local union leadership adjusted to the challenges of assuming office amid a pandemic is not newsworthy.  We conclude, to the contrary, that the article provides the reader with information, among other things, about the local union’s approach in protecting members’ rights, which is newsworthy.  Accordingly, we find no Rules violation here.


The heading of page three of the newsletter read “Shoptalk from the Business Agents.”  The text read as follows:


Bill Davis, Mike Wells, Jimmy Meyer, Kent McCord, Tim Montgomery, Howard Priestley, Clifford Rollinson Jr, & Dorian Stone want to congratulate all the new stewards who have been elected. A big thank you to all current stewards & alternates who have remained throughout the years and continue fighting for their members. To all former stewards, we appreciate you for all that you’ve done. Thank you all.

We are currently working to schedule a virtual Steward training class for all stewards.


Listed beneath this text were the names of nearly 100 stewards.


            Bucalo criticized this page because it named the business agents of the local union.  We find no Rules violation here, given the page’s title.  Further, merely listing the business agents’ names, without more, is not unduly promotional.


            Nearly half of the final page of the newsletter was given over to space for the self-mailer, including the local union’s bulk mailing permit, its return address, and space for printing the addressee’s name and mailing address.  Down the left margin were listed the names and phone numbers for all eight business agents, three of whom are elected officers.  The remaining officers were listed by name only.  The balance of the page displayed a QR code for accessing the local union’s electronic app and instructions for doing so.


            Bucalo’s criticism of this page is that it listed business agents’ names.  Again, we find no Rules violation here, concluding that the local union had a valid purpose in providing this contact information to the membership.


On the content prong of the Martin test, we find nothing improper about the newsletter.  Its articles provided information to the membership on the completed blood drive, an additional means of attending membership meeting, local union finances, the issues presented for labor during the pandemic, and a thank-you for union stewards.  Much of the content was newsworthy; much of it promoted solidarity among members.


Finally, with respect to tone, the newsletter was neutral and matter-of-fact in its reportage, did not unduly promote or laud the work of any named official, and did not attack any person.  It struck an optimistic tone for persevering through the pandemic.  We conclude this tone did not violate the Rules and did not promote the candidacy of any person in the upcoming election.


For these reasons, we find no Rules violation here, and we DENY the 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

            2021 ESD 56









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

Sam Bucalo


Teamsters Local Union 100


Dan Walsh


Jeffrey Ellison




[1] Two were 130 words; the third, 113.