Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125, Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO

PETITIONER: Wirtz
RESPONDENT: Local Union No. 125, Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO
LOCATION: WAFB TV

DOCKET NO.: 58
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 389 US 477 (1968)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1967 / Nov 09, 1967
DECIDED: Jan 15, 1968

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125, Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1967 in Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125, Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1967 in Wirtz v. Local Union No. 125, Laborers' International Union of North America, AFL-CIO

Earl Warren:

Number 58, W. Willard Wirtz, Secretary of Labor, petitioner, versus Local Union No. 125, Laborers International Union of North America.

Mr. Claiborne.

Louis F. Claiborne:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

In this case again we are dealing with a violation of the Landrum-Griffin Act which here is not disputed.

The charge here is in some sense the reverse of that in the previous case.

It is the delinquent members of the union who under the union's constitution should not have been permitted to vote or to be candidates.

Some of them were allowed under practice of the Secretary Treasurer to vote and to be candidates.

This was done by paying for them the portion of the dues which they owe to the International which made them appear as members in good standing and therefore qualify both to vote and to be candidates.

This practice was followed unilaterally by the local Secretary Treasurer without any authorization from the International Union and it was done on ad hoc basis, it was done for some and not for others.

It is done, so the Secretary Treasurer testified, out of a sense of generosity for those members who had been out work.

He added that it was only done for those who had been long time members of the local.

Was this paid out, the locals --

Louis F. Claiborne:

This was paid not out of his pocket but out of the local's treasury quite right, yes.

Hugo L. Black:

It was what?

Louis F. Claiborne:

It was paid out of the local's treasury not out of the Secretary Treasurer's own pocket.

Hugo L. Black:

Yeah.

Louis F. Claiborne:

It I suppose was clearly misuse of local union funds, but that of course is not basis of our complaint here.

We challenged it successfully as being both a violation of the local constitution of a valid requirement of the local constitution which makes it a violation of the Landrum-Griffin Act and secondly as the imposition of a qualification not uniformly and therefore for that reason also a violation of the act.

The opportunities for discrimination in this sort of scheme are too obvious.

We'd have to elaborate, but as I say the invalidity of this practice in any event is conceded and was so found by the District Court.

Now this practice which resulted in the both the voting and the running for office of persons who had no right to do so prevailed both at the general election of offices in this union in June of 1953 and at a runoff held a month and half later in July in 1963.

At the June general election it apparently resulted in having some 50 ineligible members voting and having some 16 ineligible members running as candidates, some of them were successful.

What triggered this suit however was the tie which resulted for the Office of Business Representative.

As it turned out our complainant, the man who complained to the Secretary, was running against two opponents both of whom were ineligible and the tie resulted also from the casting of ineligible votes.

Our man now complained internally.

However, the only thing he complained about was the casting of ineligible ballots at the runoff held in July.

He didn't know apparently that his opponent was ineligible to be a candidate, we assume he would complain about that, the most obvious flaw in that runoff, nor did he complain about the June general election which had produced the tie vote and had made the runoff necessary.

At least he didn't expressly complain about anything except the illegal votes that have been cast at the runoff.

What's more he said that there were nine illegal votes cast at the runoff and he'd lost by some 19 votes.

Therefore the union internal appeal machine denied his protest on the ground that those nine votes couldn't have made any difference.