Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)
U.S. Department of Labor
Division of Enforcement
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Washington, DC 20210
(202) 693-0143 Fax: (202) 693-1343
June 24, 2013
This Statement of Reasons is in response to your complaint filed on April 4, 2013, with the Department of Labor alleging that violations of Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA) occurred in connection with the election of officers of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 186, that was completed on December 7, 2012.
The Department of Labor conducted an investigation of your allegations. As a result of its investigation, the Department has concluded that there was no violation that may have affected the outcome of the election.
You alleged that mail fraud resulted in 197 “missing” voted absentee ballots. Section 401(c) of the LMRDA requires unions to provide adequate safeguards to ensure fair elections. Section 401(e) provides that every member in good standing shall have the right to vote.
Your allegation of missing absentee ballots was based primarily on the difference between the number of absentee ballot packages mailed and the number of voted absentee ballots received at the designated post office box. As an election observer, you were aware that there were approximately 200 fewer absentee ballots retrieved from the Ventura post office on the day of the tally than had been mailed out to members. You stated that your election team turned in 313 requests for absentee ballots to the election committee. After the ballots were mailed out, you stated, your team conducted a phone survey of most of the members who had submitted absentee ballot requests through your team. You and your team members stated that the overwhelming majority of survey respondents assured you that they had returned their voted absentee ballots to the union. However, at no point did you identify any member whose absentee ballot was “missing” — that is, a member who returned an absentee ballot that was not retrieved from the post office.
Your allegation of mail fraud — both in your complaint to the Department and in your slate coordinator’s complaint to the U.S. Postal Inspection Services — was also based on the expectation created by your team’s phone survey that more absentee ballots should have been received. During the investigation, you alleged that it was the incumbent slate that stole ballots from the Ventura post office and/or the Goleta mail sorting facility. You claimed that the bright blue absentee ballot return envelopes and the inclusion of each member’s craft on the return label enabled an unidentified mail thief to find ballots that were likely cast in favor of your slate. You stated that certain crafts are associated with United Parcel Service (UPS), and you believed that most of your slate’s support would come from members employed at UPS. You stated that you knew postal employees at both postal facilities. However, you presented no eyewitness accounts or other direct evidence to support your allegation of mail theft.
The election was managed by independent consultant . The investigation confirmed that rented box 6845 at the Ventura post office, obtained two keys to the box, and maintained possession of both keys at all times. Before the absentee ballots were mailed, conducted a successful test by mailing an envelope to the post office box from his home address. After checking the post office box to ensure that the test mailing had arrived, did not access the post office box again until he retrieved the absentee ballots on the morning of the tally. Postal authorities confirmed that the security of the mail was not compromised during the sorting and delivery process and that the public had no access to the mail. There was no evidence that any ballot tampering or theft occurred at the post office.
The investigation confirmed that candidates observed all key steps of the election process. You observed, among other steps, the preparation and mailing of the absentee ballot packages on November 26 and November 30, the pickup of the returned absentee ballots from the Ventura post office on December 7, and the tally of all ballots on December 7.
The investigation established that absentee ballots were made available to members liberally. All three slates gathered absentee ballot request forms from members. The investigation established that 510 absentee ballot request forms were submitted and 510 absentee ballot packages were mailed out. On the day of the tally, 304 absentee ballots were retrieved from the post office. Another 6 absentee ballots arrived at the post office after the election deadline. The investigation further determined that 65 of the members who requested absentee ballots instead cast ballots in person at polling sites.
provided the local with a detailed analysis of absentee ballots sent to members employed by UPS. This analysis, which the Department reviewed during its investigation, established that UPS employees who requested absentee ballots voted at a very high rate. A total of 274 absentee ballot packages were mailed to UPS employees. Of those, 191 returned ballot envelopes were retrieved from the post office box on the tally date. In addition, 25 of the members employed by UPS who requested absentee ballots instead cast ballots in person.
The Department’s investigation also revealed that members who submitted absentee ballot request forms through your election team also voted at a very high rate. The Department reviewed the election records for 190 of the names listed on your team’s spreadsheet. The investigation revealed that 8 of the names in the sample did not appear on the union’s master eligibility list. Of the remaining 182 members in the sample, 137 members returned valid absentee ballots that were tallied in the election, 2 members’ ballot packages were returned undelivered, and 4 members mailed in ballots that arrived at the post office after the election deadline.
The investigation uncovered no evidence that any member returned an absentee ballot that was not retrieved from the post office. There was no violation.
You raised other issues during the investigation that were not investigated because they were not timely invoked and exhausted in accordance with the union election protest procedures, as required by § 402(a) of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. § 482(a). The Secretary lacks the authority to consider the merits of these issues.
For the reasons set forth above, the Department has concluded that there was no violation of Title IV of the LMRDA that may have affected the outcome of the election, and I am closing our file regarding this matter.
Chief, Division of Enforcement
cc: James P. Hoffa, General President
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
25 Louisiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
William Elder, Secretary-Treasurer
Teamsters Local 186
1534 Eastman Avenue, Suite B
Ventura, California 93003
Christopher B. Wilkinson, Associate Solicitor
Civil Rights and Labor-Management