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Office of the Election Supervisor for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Gonzalez, 2021 ESD 157


for the



IN RE: RAUL GONZALEZ,                       )           Protest Decision 2021 ESD 157

                                                                        )           Issued: October 12, 2021

Protestor.                                           )           OES Case No. P-171-091421-SO



Raul Gonzalez, member 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 he was verbally and physically assaulted by local union business agents because of his support for the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021.


Election Supervisor representative Dolores Hall investigated this protest.


Findings of Fact and Analysis


            Protest Gonzalez alleged that he was threatened and then bull-rushed against a wall by business agents at the local union hall on September 11, 2021, with 1 agent pushing his forearm against Gonzalez’s neck.  Gonzalez was wearing an O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 t-shirt during this incident, and he alleged that the shirt was torn during the assault.  Gonzalez alleged that principal officer Robert Mele was aware the incident was occurring and did nothing to halt it.  Gonzalez asserted that the assault was in retaliation for his support of the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate, activity that is protected by the Rules.


            Investigation showed that Local Union 988 conducted its nominations meeting for election of local union officers on September 11, 2021.  The local union retained Global Election Services (GES) to run the election, including conducting the nominations meeting.


Melvin Charles, candidate for president against incumbent Mele, and protestor Gonzalez, a supporter of Charles’s slate but not a candidate on it, mistakenly believed they had to present to the local union secretary-treasurer prior to the 10:00 a.m. start of the meeting the slate form of the candidates they intended to nominate.  In fact, slate forms were due after nominations had been made.  Charles, Gonzalez, and their supporters arrived at the local union hall prior to the meeting and sat together in the back of the hall.  As 10:00 a.m. neared, Charles and Gonzalez left the auditorium in search of the secretary-treasurer.  They entered the office area of the hall.  No one was working in that area, and the offices were closed and locked in anticipation of the meeting.  Local Union 988 business agents Joe Selesky and Craig Cunningham followed them out into the hallway and asked them to return to the auditorium, as the meeting was about to start.  Security video, which included audio, corroborated witness statements about this portion of events.


Meanwhile in the auditorium, principal officer Mele convened the meeting with the pledge of allegiance.  As Gonzalez reentered the auditorium and heard the pledge, he thought his slate was being pre-empted from filing its slate form. Gonzalez, a very large younger man, pushed Selesky, a slightly built older man, and yelled “this is my fucking hall,” apparently intent on getting the slate form to the secretary-treasurer before the pledge was completed.  Several other business agents rushed across the hall to protect Selesky and subdue Gonzalez, pinning Gonzalez against the wall.  Security video corroborated witness statements about this incident.


Candidate Charles shouted during the incident “you are not going to deny me” the right to make a nomination.  Mele repeatedly called from the podium that the ruckus stop, assuring Gonzalez and Charles that nominations would be accepted.  GES representative John Marshall, the person who would chair the meeting once the pledge was completed, also announced that nominations would be accepted.  


Gonzelez’s shirt, an O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate campaign shirt, was torn during the fracas.  Gonzalez stopped his disruptive actions once he was pinned to the wall and speakers on the podium gave assurances that nominations would be accepted.


On these facts, Gonzalez alleges that he suffered retaliation prohibited by Article VII, Section 12(g) because of his support for the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate in the International officers election.  Proof of retaliation requires three elements: 1) activity protected under the Rules; 2) the charged party having actual or constructive knowledge of that protected activity; and 3) a showing that the protected activity was a motivating factor in the decision or the conduct at issue.  McNally, 2016 ESD 237 (June 7, 2016). 


The existence of a reasonable independent basis for the decision or conduct at issue is a defense to an allegation of improper motivation, so long as it is not shown to be a pretext.  The Rules are not violated if the decision maker would have taken the same action in the absence of the protective activity. Pope, 2000 EAD 39 (October 17, 2000); Hoffa, P857 (September 11, 1996), aff’d, 96 EAM 234 (September 19, 1996). Miner, 2005 ESD 1 (May 27, 2005); Bundrant, 2005 ESD 19 (October 25, 2005); Zuckerman, 2010 ESD 2 (June 7, 2010); Lytle, 2011 ESD 282 (June 23, 2011), aff’d, 2011 EAM 51 (June 30, 2011); Bucalo, 2015 ESD 42 (October 19, 2015), aff’d, 2015 EAM 2 (November 16, 2015); Matthews, 2016 ESD 187 (May 4, 2016).


The evidence here shows that Gonzalez initiated the physical altercation because of his ignorance of nominations procedures.  He was subdued by business agents who intervened to defend Selesky.  No evidence suggests that his support for the O'Brien-Zuckerman 2021 slate motivated the response to his aggressive and inappropriate behavior.


Accordingly, 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 157









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

Raul Gonzalez


Teamsters Local Union 988


Robert Mele


Chris Solis


Tim Slider


Craig Cunningham


Joe Selesky


Dolores Hall


Jeffrey Ellison