Trbovich v. United Mine Workers

RESPONDENT: United Mine Workers
LOCATION: Tennessee Governor's Office

DOCKET NO.: 71-119
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 404 US 528 (1972)
ARGUED: Nov 18, 1971
DECIDED: Jan 17, 1972

Erwin N. Griswold -
Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. - for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Trbovich v. United Mine Workers

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1971 in Trbovich v. United Mine Workers

Warren E. Burger:

The arguments next in 119, Trbovich against United Mine Workers.

Mr. Rauh.

Joseph L. Rauh, Jr.:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court.

The Courts below held the petitioner, the Head of the Reform Group, within the United Mine Workers could not intervene in the Secretory of Labor suit to upset the 1969 Union Election in which petitioner and his reform group have an intense interest.

The question here on certiorari is whether the courts below erred heard in beholding that the Labor Management reporting and Disclosure Act carves an exception out of Rule 24 (a) and thus bars the intervention of petitioner's reform group.

On May 29th, 1969, Mr Joseph Yablonski announced that he would run for President of the United Mine Workers of America.

Between May 29th and December 9th of 1969, the date of the election, Yablonski was forced to bring five lawsuits.

In three of these, we got our preliminary injunctions giving us the right to mail out literature, getting Yablonski's job back after he was fired in reprisal firing and stopping the journal, the United Mine Workers journal from being used as campaign literature.

In one of the five suits, we didn't get an order but the -- before that the Mine Workers had done in court what we asked for, namely to tell what rules of the election would be.

In the fifth suit which was a suit to make to Mr. Bloch and the others payback what they have taken from the union is still pending.

Now in addition to these lawsuits, Mr. Yablonski also sought an investigation by the Secretory of Labor of the massive violations going on during the election but despite the clear language in Section 601 of the LMRDA and despite this court's statement in footnote 5 in the Labors case that Section 601 applied here and he could investigate and despite the fact that we detailed the violations of law, the Secretory of Labor refused to make any investigation.

So there came December 9th and the incumbents declared themselves elected.

Two points might be mentioned on this election, first, what we had poll watchers, we either broke even or one where we didn't -- we lost by margins up to 50 to 1, second, as was found by the Subcommittee on Labor, the decision was made by pensioners because they voted largely voted for them -- 93% voted for Mr. Bloch.

On December 18th, nine days after the election, Mr. Yablonski challenged the election detailing to the labor department, these massive violations.

On January 5th, Mr. Yablonski was found dead.

On Jan 20th, the petitioner adopted the challenge, he had been Mr. Yablonski's campaign manager and he took over the challenge of the election.

On March 5th, the Secretory of Labor brought the suit based on petitioner’s challenge.

On April 1st, 1970, minors for democracy, the Yablonski reform group, was formed.

On October 2nd, when no progress had been made in the suit and answer hadn’t even been filed, we moved to intervene.

We saw three things then and now as our intervention, that is we seek to do three things by intervening.

First, to assure that the violations asserted by the Secretory of Labor are speedily and vigorously presented to the court.

Second, to raise two additional grounds for upsetting the election, namely that Mr. Bloch by his illegal pension increase had engaged in improper interference with the election and second the voting through illegal locals had made it easy for them to steal the election, I referred at the pension vote because the illegal locals are pension locals.

Third to append a district court decree, ensuring that the new election would not be a repeat of the last one.

In other words, we seek to do three things to assist and push the Secretory of Labor to prove what he has set out to prove, to add two issues and to see that there is a decree, so there won't be a repeat.

The District Court said no to our intervention, he said at Page 112 of the Appendix that the Landrum-Griffin Act deprived the Court of Jurisdiction to permit our intervention.

The Court of Appeals affirmed without opinion.

The case is here on an expedited schedule because the case is in trial below, this is the status below.

On September 13th of this year the trial started.

After about 5 weeks of trial, it went into recess, it reconvenes this coming Monday, November 22nd, for the completion of the Government’s case.

If we are permitted to intervene, we will not make any delays, we are not going to ask for discovery, in fact, I hereby waive discovery, so that we can go right into the case as it is and we will go on with our case promptly.