Court Upholds Injunction Against Chicago Boss

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to invalidate a permanent injunction Oct. 18 barring an Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local 134 boss from soliciting or receiving contributions to the local union’s social club from employers. However, Chief Judge Richard A. Posner’s decision rejected arguments raised by union members who claimed that along with the permanent injunction they were entitled to a finding or declaratory judgment that Local 134’s business manager, Mike Fitzgerald, and the local’s Unified Social Club had violated the Nat’l Labor Relations Act by soliciting and receiving employer contributions.

Posner agreed with the union members that they should be able to amend their complaint to include a claim under Section 502 of the Labor-Management Reporting & Disclosure Act of 1959, popularly known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, which forbids union officers from obtaining “a personal interest adverse to the union.” On this point, the court reversed the district court.

The plaintiffs, a group of Local 134 members “on the outs” with Fitzgerald, filed suit against Fitzgerald and the Unified Social Club under Section 302 of the 1947 amendments to the National Labor Relations Act. They argued that Fitzgerald “solicited and received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to the Club from employers with which the local bargains.” The members claimed the employer contributions enhanced Fitzgerald’s popularity and solidified his hold over the local union because the funds enabled the club to provide union members with attractive social activities.

After the members won a preliminary injunction barring the solicitation and receipt of contributions, Fitzgerald and the social club offered to make the preliminary injunction permanent, provided it was not construed as an admission of liability. The union members rejected the offer, but the district court entered the permanent injunction at the defendants’ request and granted their motion to dismiss the suit as moot. The union members appealed, claiming they were entitled to a finding or declaratory judgment to accompany the permanent injunction that would state that Fitzgerald and the social club had violated the law.  [BNA 10/24/00]