Wirtz v. Hotel, Motel & Club Employees Union, Local 6

PETITIONER: Wirtz
RESPONDENT: Hotel, Motel & Club Employees Union, Local 6
LOCATION: United States District Court of Maryland

DOCKET NO.: 891
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 391 US 492 (1968)
ARGUED: Apr 29, 1968
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1968

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Wirtz v. Hotel, Motel & Club Employees Union, Local 6

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 29, 1968 in Wirtz v. Hotel, Motel & Club Employees Union, Local 6

Earl Warren:

-- 891, W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, petitioner versus Hotel, Motel and Club Employees Union, Local Number 6.

Mr. Weinstein.

Harris Weinstein:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case comes to the Court on the writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

It began when the petitioner, the Secretary of Labor sued in the District Court in the Southern District of New York to set aside an election that the respondent, a local union held in May 1965.

The issues arise under Title IV of the Labor Reform Law of 1959 which is commonly known as the Landrum-Griffin Act.

As the Court knows, the scheme of that title is to set forth in one elaborate section, Section 401, a variety of conditions and requirements that are applied to the union elections.

The first issue in this case involves one of those requirements drawing out of a provision of Section 401(e) which is contained in the appendix to our brief towards the top of page 40.

That provision, Section 401(e), among other things deals with qualifications that a union may impose upon those who wish to be candidates for elective office.

And it says that all members in good standing shall be eligible subject to and this is the pertinent statutory language, “reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed.”

The respondent applied what the district judge has called a prior office holding requirement.

It required those who wish to be candidates for anyone of the 31 paid full-time positions open in the May 1965 election, to have previously been members of the body of the union called its assembly which existed since 1951 or instead to have been members of a body called all the old Shop Delegates Council which existed before 1951.

Our contention which the District Court accepted and the majority of the Court of Appeals rejected is that this is an unreasonable requirement within the intention of the statute.

The second issue before the Court grows out of the procedures established in Section 402 for remedying defective elections.

That section sets up a multistage procedure.

The union member who is dissatisfied must exhaust internal remedies.

He complains to the Secretary, the Secretary investigates and then if he thinks it warranted, if the union has not taken voluntary action, he bring suit to set aside the election and to seek the relief of a new election under his supervision.

The second problem here goes to the conditions the statute prescribes as the requisite to the grant of the relief of a new election.

The statutory language is in Section 402(c) which is towards the bottom of page 42 of our brief, and it says that the election shall not be set aside unless the District Court finds that a violation of Section 401 may have affected the outcome of the election.

The District Court here held that even though the prior office holding requirement wasn't its view unreasonable, it could not say that the imposition of that requirement may have affected the outcome of the election and we contest that ruling here as well.

There's a third question that need not be reached if the first two are answered in the Secretary's favor.

And this was a question akin to that previously decided by this Court this term in the Local 125 of the Laborer's Union case.

It goes to the relationship that must exist between the charges the Secretary makes in Court and those that union member makes in his complaint to the Secretary.

Here, the union members complained only with the prior office holding requirement, both within the union and to the Secretary.

The second question was not report in here (Inaudible).

Harris Weinstein:

That's correct, Justice Harlan.

There was a concurring opinion in the Court of Appeals resting solely on that second question.

The Secretary in his investigation believed he had uncovered evidence of three additional violations of Section 401 committed in connection with this election going to the fact that some officers were appointed rather than elected an alleged lack of timely notice of election districts and alleged interference with voters at the polls.

The district judge struck these allegations on the ground that the union members have not complained upon and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

There's also a fourth question which has been interposed, I believe, for the first time in respondent's brief in this Court and we have not dealt with it in our brief and I will after stating the facts and this is an argument that because the respondent has changed his prior office holding requirement and plans to hold a new election about three weeks from now that this case is moot.