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
June 5, 2013
This Statement of Reasons is in response to the complaint you filed with the U.S. Department of Labor on January 22, 2013, alleging that violations of Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) occurred in connection with the mail ballot election of union officers conducted by Local 630, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, on October 15, 2012.
The Department of Labor conducted an investigation of your allegations. As a result of the investigation, the Department has concluded, with respect to the specific allegations, that there was no violation of the LMRDA. Following is an explanation of this conclusion.
You alleged that the union was unable to account for 4,000 of the 7,000 ballots printed for the election due to the union’s failure to update its membership mailing list and, as a result, 60 percent of the membership did not receive ballots and did not vote. Section 401(e) of the LMRDA states, “every member in good standing . . . shall have the right to vote for . . . the candidate or candidates of his choice.” 29 C.F.R. § 452.84. This provision implies that every eligible member must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to vote. 29 C.F.R. § 452.94. To this end, a union must have a systematic procedure in place for obtaining current mailing addresses for its members on a periodic basis and make reasonable efforts to keep the address information on its membership mailing list current prior to the election.
The investigation disclosed that Local 630 took reasonable steps to update its membership mailing list on a periodic basis. Business agents and union staff routinely solicited updated addresses from members during initiation classes, steward meetings, membership meetings, and during business agents’ site visits to work facilities. In addition, the union staff frequently updated the membership mailing list and took affirmative steps to maintain the accuracy of that list. In particular, when union mailings to members were returned undelivered, union officials went to the members’ place of employment to obtain updated addresses from the members. These updated addresses were then entered into Titan, the Teamsters’ computerized records system. Further, during the election, the union secured a post office box for the undeliverable ballots. The third-party election supervisor checked that post office box for returned undeliverable ballot packages on a daily basis, and the union made efforts to obtain new addresses for any such returned undeliverable ballots. The investigation showed 284 ballot packages were returned as undeliverable. The post office affixed labels containing forwarding addresses to 50 of these packages and then forwarded them to the post office box secured by the union for the undeliverable ballots. The union re-mailed these ballots to the forwarding addresses. Thus, of the 6,617 ballots that the union mailed to members, only approximately three percent of such ballots were returned as undeliverable. The LMRDA was not violated.
You alleged that the union failed to secure a second post office box for ballots returned as undeliverable and, as a result, the union was unable to account for 4,000 such ballots. Section 401(c) of the LMRDA requires a union to provide adequate safeguards to insure a fair election. Thus, the conduct of an election is circumscribed by a general rule of fairness. 29 C.F.R. § 452.110. The investigation disclosed that the union secured two separate post office boxes for the election. Specifically, Post Office Box 17760, Los Angeles, California, was used as the repository for the return voted ballots and Post Office Box 6323, Concord, California was used for the return of the undeliverable ballots. The LMRDA was not violated.
You alleged that members voted for your slate but that their ballots were not counted. Section 401(e) of the LMRDA states, “every member in good standing . . . shall have the right to vote for . . . the candidate or candidates of his choice.” During the investigation you stated that the presidential candidate on your slate, told you that and voted for your slate but their ballots were not counted. During the investigation did not corroborate that he told you that ballots voted by these individuals were not counted. In any event, the Department’s review of the election records disclosed 271 returned ballot envelopes that were not opened and counted for valid reasons and 234 returned, undelivered, sealed ballot packages. Ballot envelopes for the individuals you identified were not among the election records. Further, the names of these individuals were not checked off the voter roster as having voted. The investigation did not find any evidence supporting your allegation that ballots for these individuals or others were improperly not counted. The LMRDA was not violated.
With respect to the remainder of the allegations you raised in your complaint to the Department, the investigation disclosed that you did not raise these allegations in accordance with the mandatory pre-election protest procedures prescribed in the union’s constitution and bylaws. Such procedures require an aggrieved member to protest an issue that does not concern candidacy eligibility to the union’s secretary treasurer within 48 hours of the member becoming aware of such issue. Section 402 of the LMRDA requires a complaining union member to use the available remedies in order to file a valid complaint with the Department. The investigation showed that you protested the remaining allegations more than 48 hours after you became aware of them. Therefore, these allegations are not properly before the Department and are dismissed.
For the reasons set forth above, it is concluded that there was no violation of the LMRDA and I have closed the file on this matter.
Chief, Division of Enforcement
cc: James P. Hoffa, General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
25 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 22010
Xavier Sandoval, President
Teamsters Local 630
750 South Stanford Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90021
Ralph M. Phillips, Teamsters Local 630 Counsel
Wohlner Kaplon Phillips Young & Cutler
16501 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 304
Encino, California 91436
Christopher Wilkinson, Associate Solicitor for Civil Rights and Labor Management