Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS)
U.S. Department of Labor
Employment Standards Administration
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Washington, DC 20210
January 27, 2009
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Dear ||| ||||:
This Statement of Reasons is in response to your September 15, 2008 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 May 6, 2008 election of union officers held by Local 1292 of the United Auto Workers (“Local 1292”).
The Department of Labor investigated each of your allegations. As a result of the investigation, the Department has concluded that no violation of the LMRDA that could have affected the outcome of the election occurred during the 2008 election.
You alleged that Local 1292 failed to control all the ballots and preserve all the election records. The Department’s investigation found that Local 1292’s office secretary, |||| ||||, used the union copier to print the shop committee ballots, which included the shop committee chair position, the only shop committee position covered by the LMRDA. ||| |||| did not keep track of how many ballots she printed. After the election, she shredded the unused ballots. In doing so, Local 1292 failed to preserve all records relating to the election as required by LMRDA § 401(e).
The Department’s investigation did not find, however, that this violation could have affected the outcome of the election. In this regard, the ballots for the general executive board positions were printed by an outside company and the Department of Labor reviewed these ballots and was able to account for 1489 of the 1500 ballots printed. This 11 ballot discrepancy would have no impact on the election outcome since the smallest vote margin for any LMRDA-covered officer position was 36 votes. Although Local 1292 failed to maintain a copy of the voter eligibility list, the completed ballot request slips were retained, which provides a record of who voted in the election. Moreover, there was no evidence of ballot fraud in this election. Candidate observers were present at the polling sites during voting and at the tally afterward. After voting closed, the contents of the ballot boxes were sorted. Ballots were then returned to the boxes, the boxes were locked and sealed with tape, and election committee members and observers signed their names over the tape. A candidate observer accompanied the election committee chairman in his truck as he transported the sealed ballot boxes from the plant polling site to the union hall for the tally. Local 1292 provided adequate safeguards to insure a fair election and there is no indication that the failure to preserve certain records affected the outcome of the election.
You alleged that General Motors (“GM”) management harmed your campaign and, in effect, promoted your opponent by failing to intervene and dispel a rumor that you were responsible for the disciplinary action taken against a union member who printed a racially offensive cartoon from a company computer. The Department’s investigation found no evidence that GM’s handling of this incident promoted or denigrated anyone’s candidacy or was in any way related to or influenced the union officer election. Moreover, the investigation revealed that GM management investigated and handled your allegation that you were subject to a hostile work environment the same way that it handles other EEO complaints and related claims of misconduct. You also alleged that two Local 1292 committeepersons initiated the rumor and used the issue to promote other candidates on company time. The exchange between Committeeperson |||| |||| and yourself, which you cited to support your allegation, occurred at the union hall when neither of you was being paid by the employer. No violation of Section 401(g) of the LMRDA, prohibiting the use of employer funds to promote a candidate, occurred.
You alleged that your opponents must have misused union membership lists because they did not use the designated mailer for their campaign literature, and they made campaign phone calls to union members. The Department’s investigation found no evidence that any candidate improperly used a union membership list. You identified one union member you believed received a campaign call from your opponent, but that individual denied receiving such a call. There was no violation of the LMRDA § 401(c), prohibiting union discrimination in favor of or against any candidate with respect to the use of membership lists and the distribution of campaign literature. Nor was there evidence of a violation of Section 401(g) of the LMRDA, which prohibits the use of union resources to promote the candidacy of any individual.
The Department’s investigation did reveal that the union did not uniformly apply the rules for mailing campaign literature to all candidates. The Conduct of Election rules mandated that candidates wishing to mail campaign literature use a designated third-party mailing company. The investigation, however, revealed that the local union office secretary mailed campaign literature for three candidates running for committeeperson races, which are positions not covered by the LMRDA. Since the non-uniform application of the rule was confined to campaign mailings made by candidates in races not covered by the LMRDA, there was no disparate treatment of the candidates for the LMRDA-covered officer positions. Thus, there was no violation of the LMRDA.
For the reasons set forth above, the Department of Labor has concluded that no violation of the LMRDA occurred that could have affected the outcome of the election.
Accordingly, the office has closed the file on this matter.
Cynthia M. Downing
Chief, Division of Enforcement
cc: Mr. Ron Gettelfinger, President
UAW International Union
8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214
Mr. Brian Kosbar, President
UAW Local 1292
6153 South Dort Highway
Grand Blanc, Michigan 48439