Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers, Warehousemen & Packers v. Crowley

PETITIONER: Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers, Warehousemen & Packers
LOCATION: Environmental Protection Agency

DOCKET NO.: 82-432
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 467 US 526 (1984)
ARGUED: Jan 09, 1984
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1984

Gary S. Witlen - on behalf of the Petitioners
John H. Garvey - on behalf of the federal respondent in support of petitioners
Mark D. Stern - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers, Warehousemen & Packers v. Crowley

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 09, 1984 in Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers, Warehousemen & Packers v. Crowley

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Witlen, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Gary S. Witlen:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

Today we ask the Court to determine whether union elections of officer are to be run under the supervision of the federal judiciary or the Secretary of Labor.

The key question is whether a court can order a union to conduct a new election of officers under Title I of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act in response to a suit filed by someone other than the Secretary of Labor.

It is our position that Congress vested the Secretary and only the Secretary with authority to bring suit to rerun an election of union officers.

Congress repeatedly rejected other enforcement schemes including suit by individual union members both before and after the addition of Title I to the legislation, and all of the bills considered over the course of two sessions of Congress relied upon the Secretary of Labor as the agent of government to supervise the rerun of union election of officers.

Thus, we seek reversal of the lower courts and reaffirmation of this Court's prior decisions that Title IV, not Title I, is to be utilized to resolve challenges to elections of union officers.

We ask that the ballots cast by the members of Local 82 in the 1980 election be returned to the union for tabulation.

I would like to highlight several of the facts set forth more fully in our brief.

First, suit here was filed based upon alleged violations of Titles I and IV of the Act which occurred at the union's nomination meeting.

The suit was not filed until after the union had mailed the mailed balloting packets to its members for voting in the election.

A temporary restraining order was subsequently issued without an evidentiary hearing some 17 hours before the ballots were to be picked up and tabulated for the stated purpose of preserving the Court's jurisdiction and in order to prevent the Plaintiffs, the Respondents in this case, from having to go through the electoral processes of challenging an election under Title IV.

As a result the union was unable to elect officers for an additional year after the temporary restraining order was issued.

In the interim the union was run by officers who had been elected four years previously.

The new election ordered by the Court was conducted under its rules and under its court appointed arbitrators.

Presently pending before the District Court these many years later is the application for attorneys' fees on behalf of Respondents, is a request for permanent relief, is the union's expected expense for reimbursement for the costs of the election that was conducted under the court's order, and for Petitioner Harris' claims for wages if it should be found that he was the successful candidate in the 1980 election.

William H. Rehnquist:

Who ends up paying for the arbitrator or whoever it is the court appoints?

Gary S. Witlen:

The union paid for the entire cost of the election including the arbitrator with the understanding, which was discussed at the time, that the union could seek reimbursement from the Plaintiffs if the District Court's injunction was ultimately overturned.

William H. Rehnquist:

Would there have been that sort of expense to either party if the Secretary had brought the injunction?

Gary S. Witlen:

Certainly some of the expenses of conducting an election would have been incurred, but the major expense, that in excess of $7,000 to pay the arbitrator's expenses would not have been incurred because the Secretary of Labor does not charge the union for its expenses and personnel in conducting the election.

That is the greatest bulk of the expense.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Were the procedures for the election under the court order like the procedures that the Secretary would follow under IV?

Gary S. Witlen:

There were major discrepancies between what the Secretary would do and what the union would do and what the court ordered.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Can you say briefly what the difference would be?

Gary S. Witlen:

Primarily the arbitrators that were appointed did not have the expertise of the Secretary to make evaluations as to the application of the Secretary's own administrative regulations or the union's constitutional regulations and requirements.

John Paul Stevens:

The question I wanted to ask in my mind is the violations here concern the nomination meeting as I remember.

Gary S. Witlen:

That is correct.

John Paul Stevens:

Would you make basically the same argument that you make today if the action had been brought promptly after the nomination meeting after the alleged violations occurred?

Gary S. Witlen:

We would not be making the same argument if the suit was brought prior to the time the ballots were mailed out.

John Paul Stevens:

Would not some of your policy arguments be equally strong about having the wrong people running the election and so forth?