U.S. Department of Labor
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Division of Enforcement
Washington, DC 20210
(202) 693-0143 Fax: (202) 693-1343
July 8, 2011
This Statement of Reasons is in response to your January 31, 2011 complaint, filed with
the United States Department of Labor, alleging that violations of Title IV of the Labor-
Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, as amended (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C.
§§ 481 – 484, occurred in connection with the election of officers of the Teamsters Union,
Local 71 for which ballots were tallied on October 1, 2010.
The Department conducted an investigation based on your complaint. As a result of
the investigation, the Department has concluded, with respect to each of your specific
allegations that no violation occurred that may have affected the outcome of the
First, you allege that Local 71 provided you with an incomplete list of employers. You
allege that the employer list you received was missing the names of two employers and
did not include the names of employers of the taxi drivers represented by the union.
The LMRDA does not require unions to provide candidates with lists of employers.
However, under section 401(c) of the LMRDA, the union must provide adequate
safeguards to ensure a fair election. Pursuant to this provision, unions are to refrain
from discriminating in favor of or against any candidate. A union discriminates among
candidates with respect to an employer list if the union provides any candidate a more
accurate list than it provides to other of the candidates. The union also discriminates
with respect to use of employer lists if the incumbents make use of a list of employer
worksites to campaign but refuse to provide the list to other candidates who request it
for that same purpose.
Here, the Department’s investigation disclosed that the union did not discriminate
against you with respect to the list of employers. The two candidates who requested
the list of employers received it. Moreover, the union provided the candidates with the
same list. Candidates were equally disadvantaged by any mistakes or omissions in the
list provided. Furthermore, you indicated to the Department’s investigator that you
knew which two employers were left off the list and that no one made use of the
employer list in campaigning. For these reasons, the evidence does not support a
finding that any discrimination occurred. Therefore, there has been no violation of the
LMRDA with respect to this issue.
Second, you allege that Local 71 improperly denied movie drivers the right to vote in
violation of section 401(e) of the LMRDA, which provides that every union member in
good standing shall have the right to vote. Specifically, you allege that Local 71
changed the designation of movie drivers’ payments to the union from “dues” to
“service fees” shortly before the election. As only dues-paying members of the union
may vote, the change in designation resulted in movie drivers being ineligible to
participate in the election. You suggest that this change was improper and that its
timing was suspicious.
The Department’s investigation did not substantiate your allegation. Movie drivers
only work when a movie is being filmed in the area. When they have work, they pay
two and a half times their hourly rate to the union each month as dues. When they are
unemployed, they can pay a fee of $30 a month to remain on a union seniority list.
Local 71 sent a letter to all movie drivers on August 14, 2007, indicating that the
International union had determined during an audit that those $30 payments paid by
movie drivers to remain on the seniority list must be considered service fees rather than
dues. The union updated its records in June 2010, to reflect this distinction. At the time
of the October 2010 election, movie drivers were not, as a class, dues-paying members
of the local and entitled to vote. The investigation revealed no evidence that any movie
driver paying full dues as opposed to service fees was prohibited from voting in the
election. Furthermore, the union’s June 2010 update of its records simply gave effect,
albeit belatedly, to a determination it had made years earlier. There was no violation of
Third, you allege that Local 71 improperly permitted taxi drivers to vote in the 2010
election in violation of section 401(e) of the LMRDA which conditions the right to vote
on membership in good standing. Specifically, you allege that taxi drivers pay service
fees, not dues, and do not have a contract, so they cannot be members in good standing
of Local 71. The Department’s investigation revealed that taxi drivers work regularly,
pay dues, and are represented by Local 71; therefore, they are members in good
standing. Taxi drivers do not have a collective bargaining agreement because they are
independent contractors, but having a contract is not a prerequisite of membership.
Other Local 71 members, such as bus drivers and janitors who work for the public
school district, similarly do not have contracts. Accordingly, Local 71 did not violate
section 401(e) of the LMRDA by permitting taxi drivers to vote.
Fourth, you allege that Local 71 did not set aside the ballots of taxi drivers when you
challenged the eligibility of taxi drivers to vote during the ballot tally. This failure to set
aside challenged ballots could violate section 401(c) of the LMRDA which guarantees
that “[a]dequate safeguards to ensure a fair election shall be provided.” You are correct
that generally challenged ballots should be set aside until disputes about their validity
are resolved. Failure to so could result in the invalidation of tally results if the
challenge proves to be meritorious. As explained above, however, the Department’s
investigation resulted in the conclusion that taxi drivers were eligible to vote in the 2010
election. Therefore, even had the ballots been set aside, they would ultimately have
been counted. There was no violation affecting the outcome of the election.
Finally, you allege that not all of the votes cast for one of the candidates for
Independent Trustee were counted. Although you made this allegation in your initial
complaint to the Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Joint Council 9 and in your complaint
to the Department, you did not include it in your letter appealing the Secretary
Treasurer’s decision to Teamsters Joint Council 9. By choosing not to include the issue
in your appeal, you failed to exhaust, as to this issue, the remedies available under
Article XXII, section 5 of your union constitution. Such exhaustion is required by
section 402(a)(1) of the LMRDA. Furthermore, you acknowledged during the
Department’s investigation that the votes you allege were not counted could not have
changed the results of the election. Therefore, even if this allegation had properly
exhausted within the union, it would not have constituted a violation that may have
affected the election outcome.
For the reasons set forth above, it is concluded that no violation of the LMRDA occurred
that may have affected the outcome of the election. Accordingly, the office has closed
the file on this matter.
Chief, Division of Enforcement
James P. Hoffa, General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
25 Louisiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Ted Russell, President of Teamsters Local 71
Jim Wallington, Attorney for Teamsters Local 71
Baptiste & Wilder, P.C.
1150 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Acting Associate Solicitor
Civil Rights and Labor-Management