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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Mele, 2021 ESD 133


for the



IN RE: ROBERT MELE,                            )           Protest Decision 2021 ESD 133

                                                                       )           Issued: July 22, 2021

Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-153-062121-SO



Robert Mele, member and principal officer of Local Union 988, 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 Raul Gonzalez violated the Rules by placing campaign material on the campaign literature table in the Local Union 988 hall.


Election Supervisor representative Jeffrey Ellison investigated this protest.


Findings of Fact and Analysis


            Inside the lobby of the union hall Local Union 988 maintains in Houston TX is a campaign literature table, as required by Article VII, Section 7(h) of the Rules.  In our Advisory on the Use of Literature Tables or Bulletin Boards For the Distribution of Campaign Literature Inside Union Halls, we state that the Rules “establish literature tables and/or bulletin boards at union halls to permit candidates to communicate directly with members at the halls.  To implement the rule, Article VII, Section 7(h) permits a candidate to send campaign literature to a local union hall by mail, fax, email, or hand delivery, following the procedures set forth below.”


            The Advisory restricts access to the literature table to candidates and slates of candidates.  It states the following:


Candidates and slates seeking to display material on literature tables or bulletin boards established under Article VII, Section 7(h) may deliver their literature to the local union by mail, fax, e-mail or hand delivery.  Any literature delivered to local unions must include a cover sheet with the following information: 1) the name and the address of the candidate or slate, 2) the candidate or slate representative to contact for purposes of charging any costs of reproduction (as discussed below), 3) a statement that union resources are not to be used for reproducing the literature (except for the first 50 copies as described below), 4) where it should be placed (bulletin board or table), 5) how many copies should be reproduced, and 6) the following disclaimer:


“Campaign literature may only be distributed or made available by a local union in a non-discriminatory manner through mailing, emailing, or the use of a literature table or bulletin board open to all candidates. The candidate or slate responsible for this literature is responsible for paying copying and distribution costs as defined by the Election Supervisor.”


            Local unions are required by the Advisory to police their literature tables to insure that only campaign literature submitted to them by candidates or slates appear there.  Thus, “[l]ocal unions should ensure that the literature they receive is from an authorized sender by contacting the candidate or slate representative named on the cover sheet to confirm the literature’s authenticity.  If the literature is received by mail, it should be accompanied by a cover letter with the signature of the candidate or slate representative.  If a local union receives campaign literature that does not contain a cover sheet or an identifying mark, it should immediately notify the Election Supervisor.”


            Protestor Mele alleged that respondent Gonzalez, a rank-and-file member of Local Union 988 employed at YRC, placed campaign literature supporting the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 on the literature table in the lobby of the local union hall.  Gonzalez is not a candidate for International office.  On the first such occasion, the local union returned the material to Gonzalez by mail and informed him that a protest would be filed if he placed campaign literature there again.  The protest alleged that Gonzalez repeated his action, and the local union repeated its reaction.  In addition, Mele filed this protest.


            Candidate literature tables in local union halls are for candidate and slate communications to members.  The procedure created by the Rule and the related Advisory allows the candidate or slate to control the message that is conveyed to members who come to the hall and browse the literature table, and limits local union involvement with campaign communications to a ministerial function.  The Advisory does not create the literature table as a “forum” for members to display campaign literature of their own choosing and on their own initiative.  Members who are not designated agents of the candidate or slate may not place literature there.  At the time Gonzalez placed campaign literature on the lobby literature table, he was not designated as an agent for that purpose by the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate.  Accordingly, he did not have authority to place literature there, and he violated the Advisory by acting unilaterally.


            For this reason, we GRANT the protest.  We direct Gonzalez to cease and desist placing campaign literature on the literature table in the lobby of Local Union 988’s hall unless he is granted authority in writing by the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate to do so.  If such authority is granted him in writing, Gonzalez may not place literature on the table directly, but must instead follow the requirements of the Advisory in submitting the campaign material to the local union, together with the cover sheet (our Form 40) and a copy of the authorization he is granted by the campaign.  Once the campaign literature is submitted to the local union per this procedure, the local union is required to place the material on the literature table and may not censor or alter the material or refuse to display it.  Absent compliance with the procedure established by the Advisory and this decision, the local union may refuse to display any material Gonzalez submits.


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 133








Bradley T. Raymond, General Counsel

International Brotherhood of Teamsters


Edward Gleason


Patrick Szymanski


Will Bloom


Tom Geoghegan


Rob Colone


Barbara Harvey


Fred Zuckerman


Ken Paff

Teamsters for a Democratic Union


Scott Jenkins

Robert Mele


Raul Gonzalez


Teamsters Local Union 988


Dolores Hall


Jeffrey Ellison