Unfortunately, the court determined that the National APWU properly exercised the discretion it has under the Constitution in taking the actions it did. We challenged the APWU initial decision not to merge the unit into Local 7011, we challenged the scheduling and conduct of the election and we challenged the conduct of the Convention. The court rejected each of these challenges, finding that the Executive Board validly exercised its discretion under the national APWU Constitution in taking each of the actions it did. Read the complaint for yourself and determine if this was the right call.
C O M P L A I N T
Plaintiffs, American Postal Workers Union, O’Hare Midway “T” Local 7011 (“Local 7011”), Donald Greer, Patrick Hooper, Saunder Jones, and Thais Hampton (collectively, “Plaintiffs”), by and
through their attorneys, complaining of Defendant, American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO (“APWU”), allege as follows:
1. This action arises under the laws of the United States and is brought pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”), 29 U.S.C. §185. Jurisdiction is
based upon the existence of questions arising thereunder, as hereinafter more fully appears.
2. Local 7011 is a voluntary association, commonly referred to as a labor organization or union. At all relevant times prior to the events outlined herein, Local 7011
represented approximately 350 employees of the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) at the Chicago International Military Service Center (CIMSC), located at 11600 West Irving Park Road
in Chicago, Illinois. Local 7011 is a subordinate local union of the APWU, and the bargaining unit employees at J.T. Weeker were the only bargaining unit employees that Local 7011 represents.
3. Donald Greer is the duly elected President of Local 7011.
4. Patrick Hooper, Saunder Jones and Thais Hampton were members of Local 7011 at all relevant times through the events outlined herein.
5. The APWU is also a labor organization, with an office at 55 East Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois. The APWU is the national union representing employee of the USPS.
6. The relationship between Local 7011 and the APWU is in the first instance governed by the Constitution and By-Laws of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO (“Constitution”).
A true and correct copy of the current Constitution is attached hereto as Exhibit A.
7. The Constitution provides in relevant part that National Conventions are to be conducted every other year, and that the National Executive Board of the APWU is the highest
ranking body of the APWU in between National Conventions (Art. 13).
8. The National Executive Board of the APWU adopted the Merger Guidelines of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, as a supplement the Constitution. A true and correct
copy of the current Merger Guidelines is attached hereto as Exhibit B.
9. The Merger Guidelines and Constitution constitute contracts between the APWU and its subordinate Local Unions, including Local 7011.
10. Section 301 of the LMRA gives the federal courts jurisdiction to decide suits to enforce contracts between labor organizations, including suits by Union members as third-party
beneficiaries of contracts between labor organizations.
11. By letter dated September 14, 2012 (Ex. C), the USPS notified the APWU that it was consolidating its Irving Park Road P & DC facility into CIMSC (which is also known as the J.T.
Weeker International Service Center), which are located next to each other. Per the USPS notice, the Irving Park Road employees were to be “involuntarily reassigned” to the CIMSC . The merged
facility has approximately 400 bargaining unit employees.
12. The Irving Park Road facility’s bargaining unit employees were represented by Local 0001 of the APWU. On information and belief, Local 0001 represents approximately1,500 USPS
employees at other facilities in and around Chicago, in addition to those at the Irving Park Road facility.
13. Under the Merger Guidelines, “[w]hen the operation of an identified section within a Local is transferred permanently to an existing postal installation represented by a different Local,
the gaining Local shall assume representation rights of the employees.” (Sec. 2.8(2)(D)).
14. The bargaining unit employees at the Irving Park Road facility were “an identified section within” Local 0001, and were “transferred permanently to an existing postal installation
represented by” Local 7011.
15. Pursuant to the Merger Guidelines, Local 7011 should have assumed representation of the employees merged into CIMSC.
16. By letter dated September 22, 2012, Local 7011 sent a request to the APWU that it be designated as the exclusive bargaining representative of the merged employees consistent with
the Merger Guidelines.
17. Notwithstanding the clear requirement of the Merger Guidelines, the APWU did not designate Local 7011 to represent the merged employees. Instead, on June 28, 2013, the National
Executive Board of the APWU decided to conduct a jurisdictional representation referendum to determine which Local Union would represent all employees at the merged facilities. The APWU
decided to let all members of both Locals vote, including those members of Local 0001 who work at facilities completely unaffected by the merger.
18. Under the Merger Guidelines, when a jurisdictional representation referendum is conducted, “[a] thirty (30) day notice will be posted in all offices of the affected Local or Area Local
and the involved installation, advising of the date, time and location of conducting the jurisdictional referendum vote.” (Sec. 2.8(2)(B)(v)).
19. Local 7011 objected to the referendum by letter dated July 13, 2013, due to its inconsistency with the Merger Guidelines and the fact that the APWU would allow over 1000
members of Local 0001 who work at facilities completely unaffected by the merger to determine which Local would assume representation of the merged CIMSC bargaining unit.
20. On July 30, 2013, the APWU denied Local 7011’s objections.
21. Also on July 30, 2013, Local 7011 formally requested that the National Executive Board reconsider its decision and stated its intention to appeal the decision to the next National
Convention, to be held in July or August 2014. Absent reconsideration, Local 7011 requested that the APWU stay the referendum pending consideration by the National Convention.
22. On August 1, 2013, the APWU rejected Local 7011’s request for reconsideration and to stay the referendum.
23. On August 6, 2013, the APWU notified Local 7011 that Local 0001 won the referendum by a vote of 199 to 122, with just 323 out of 2040 eligible members voting.
24. On August 8, 2013, Local 7011 appealed the referendum, noting that many members did not receive ballots or return envelopes, there was no notice of how ballots would be counted, and
the “certified” results are facially inaccurate.
25. Local 0001 has assumed representing and collecting dues from all employees of the merged facility, including Donald Greer, Patrick Hooper, Saunder Jones and Thais Hampton.
26. Local 7011 intends to continue with its appeals of the decisions of the National Executive Board to the National Convention, including improprieties in the referendum.
27. The APWU has violated the Constitution and/or the Merger Guidelines by:
a. failing to designate Local 7011 as the exclusive bargaining representative of the bargaining unit employees at the CIMSC;
b. failing to give sufficient notice of the referendum; and
c. failing to conduct a fair referendum.
28. The APWU’s violations of the Constitution and/or Merger Guidelines have irreparably harmed the interests of Local 7011 and its members, including Donald Greer:
a. by denying the bargaining unit members of their selected bargaining unit representative;
b. by requiring bargaining unit members, including Donald Greer, Patrick Hooper, Saunder Jones and Thais Hampton, to pay dues to a Local Union which they did not select, and which is not
entitled to receive the dues money; and
c. by depriving Local 7011 of its member’s dues.
29. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to require the APWU to abide by its contracts with Local 7011 and/or to restore the status quo ante pending an appeal to the National
Convention, as well as monetary damages in the amount of dues which the APWU’s breach of contract has deprived Local 7011.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray:
(A) For declaratory relief finding that the Merger Guidelines require the APWU to award representation of the merged employees to Local 7011 as the “gaining local;”
(B) For injunctive relief requiring the APWU to award representation of the merged employees to Local 7011 as the “gaining local,” consistent with the Merger Guidelines;
(C) Alternatively, for injunctive relief requiring the APWU to restore the status quo as it existed prior to the August 2013 referendum, pending Local 7011’s appeal to the National Convention;
(D) For judgment against the APWU for dues that Local 7011 would have received but for the APWU’s violation of the Merger Guidelines;
(E) That Plaintiff have such further relief as may be deemed just and equitable by the Court, all at Defendant’s cost.
Brian C. Hlavin
Patrick N. Ryan
Attorneys for the Plaintiffs
BAUM SIGMAN AUERBACH & NEUMAN, LTD.
200 West Adams Street, Suite 2200
Chicago, IL 60606-5231