Union Bosses’ Election Misconduct not Discriminatory, but Legal

The denial of a “meaningful vote” to members of a NYC union was not discriminatory, and therefore, legal under federal labor law, a fed. judge ruled on Dec. 4. U.S. Dist. Judge Denny Chinn (S.Dist. NY, Clinton) ruled against John Barry and other members of Local 32-BJ of the Service Employees Intl. Union in a suit they filed against Local president Michael Fishman earlier this year.

It was undisputed that on April 24 , Fishman rammed through changes in the local bylaws by: 1) refusing to physically separate members voting “aye” from those voting “nay,” even after a request which, under the bylaws, Fishman was required to honor: 2) declaring that he had heard enough “ayes” to constitute a 2/3 majority even though the “ayes” were clearly insufficient to meet that requirement.

Barry and the other members argued that Fishman’s conduct violated Sec. 101(a)(1) of the Labor-Mgmt. Reporting & Disclosure Act (LMRDA) of 1959, which provides that “[e]very member of a labor organization shall have equal rights…to vote in elections or referendums of the labor organization…subject to reasonable rules and regulations in such organization’s constitution and bylaws.” But Judge Chinn opined that since the “complaining union members here…have been denied no privilege  or right to vote or nominate which the union has granted to others,” the officials’ misconduct did not amount to discrimination, and was not covered under the LMRDA.

On that basis, Judge Chinn granted Fishman’s motion to dismiss Barry’s suit. [Barry v. Fishman, U.S.D.C. S.D. NY]