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Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)

U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Division of Enforcement
Washington, DC 20210
(202) 693-0143 Fax: (202) 693-1343
July 27, 2011

Dear

This Statement of Reasons is in response to the complaint that you filed with the United
States Department of Labor on January 6, 2011, alleging that violations of Title IV of the
Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA), U.S.C. §§ 481-484,
occurred in connection with the election of officers for Local 324 of the United Food and
Commercial Workers (UFCW) concluded on August 31, 2010, with the election by
acclamation of all successfully nominated candidates.

The Department conducted an investigation of your allegations. As a result of the
investigation, the Department has concluded that no violations affecting the outcome of
the election occurred.

You allege that the Local’s petition nomination requirement is unreasonable.
Specifically, you challenge the requirement to obtain 448 unduplicated signatures of
active members (2% of the Local’s active members) within 30 days. Section 401(e) of the
Act provides that in every election required to be held by secret ballot, a reasonable
opportunity shall be given for the nomination of candidates. This section also provides
that every labor union member in good standing is eligible to run for and to hold union
office subject to “reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed.” The LMRDA does not
prescribe a particular procedure for nominations; a labor organization is free to use any
method, including nomination by petition. If properly and fairly employed, use of
nomination petitions will provide a reasonable opportunity for making nominations
and will not then operate as an unreasonable qualification on candidacy. A petition
requirement, in general, is reasonable and serves legitimate union needs. It ensures that
candidates can marshal minimal support thereby eliminating fringe and frivolous
candidates. Further, courts have not found the requirement to obtain unduplicated
signatures to be unreasonable absent a showing that factors such as travel distance,
travel cost, or number of members hinder obtaining the signatures.


Here, the investigation did not uncover facts to support a finding that the Local’s
petition requirement of 448 unduplicated signatures is unreasonable. The investigation
determined that the Local has approximately 22,000 active members who work in
grocery stores, drug stores, and Disneyland, among other businesses, located in Orange
and Los Angeles counties, California. There are many employer sites within close
proximity and potential candidates and their supporters were often able to obtain
members’ signatures at their work sites and during work hours. Members who could
not be contacted on the job were accessible leaving and entering work at shift changes.
In addition, potential candidates were allowed to enlist the help of other members to
aid in the collection of petition signatures. In this case, the facts do not support a
finding that the petition requirement was unreasonable. There was no violation of the
Act.

You also allege that the Local improperly disqualified signatures on your nomination
petition. Section 401(c) of the Act requires that unions have adequate safeguards to
insure a fair election. As described above, the election rules required candidates to
submit a nomination petition with the unduplicated signatures of 448 active members.
The investigation disclosed that you submitted 59 petition pages with 462 signatures.
Upon review of your petition, the Local’s election committee chairperson disqualified
50 of your signatures, reducing the number of valid signatures to 412, well below the
required 448. The Department’s investigation determined that 40 of the 50 signatures
disqualified by the election committee were improperly disqualified and should have
been deemed valid because the individuals were active dues paying members at the
time of nomination. The Local’s failure to properly determine the validity of these 40
signatures was a violation of Section 401(c) of the Act. However, in order for the
Department to seek to overturn an election, there must be evidence that the violation
may have affected the outcome of the election. 29 U.S.C. § 482(c)(2). In this case, there
is no such evidence. Rather, the investigation disclosed that the election committee
chairperson, having determined that the number of valid signatures did not reach the
448 threshold, did not continue the review process by examining the petitions for
duplicate signatures. The investigation revealed that had the Local done so an
additional 65 signatures from both your and the incumbents’ petitions would have been
disqualified. Therefore, while the Local’s disqualification of valid signatures was a
violation of the LMRDA, it did not affect the outcome of the election.

You also allege that Local representatives solicited signatures for the incumbents’
petition on union time. The investigation did not substantiate this allegation. Section
401(g) of the LMRDA prohibits the use of union resources and funds to promote the
candidacy of any person in an election subject to the Act. Section 401(c) of the LMRDA
requires unions to refrain from discrimination in favor or against any candidate. The
investigation determined that the union representatives solicited signatures on their
vacation days and were not provided with union vehicles. There was no violation.


For the reasons set forth above, the Department has concluded that there was no
violation of Title IV of the LMRDA that affected the outcome of the election, and I have
closed the file in this matter.

Sincerely,

Patricia Fox
Chief, Division of Enforcement

cc:
Joseph T. Hansen, International President
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union
1775 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-1598
Greg Conger, President

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324

Joseph Paller

Gilbert & Sackman

3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200

Los Angeles, California 90010-2732

Beverly Dankowitz, Acting Associate Solicitor
Civil Rights and Labor-Management Division