Media Center

Jul 26

OLMS Explains Dismissal of Complaint Involving Election of Transit Union Officers

Labor Department

OLMS Explains Dismissal of Complaint Involving Election of Transit Union Officers Nearly a year after the Labor Department dismissed a complaint and determined that there was not a basis to set aside the election for officers of the Amalgamated Transit Union, DOL’s Office of Labor-Management Standards July 16 issued a 12-page ‘‘statement of reasons’’ for the dismissal.

In a letter to Jon Hunt, the former president of an ATU local who filed a complaint with DOL challenging the election, Patricia Fox, chief of the division of enforcement for OLMS, rejected allegations that several different individuals including the winning candidates for top offices used union funds and/or equipment to campaign in violation of the Labor-Management Reporting
and Disclosure Act.

She also rejected allegations that union officers engaged in campaign activities while on union time, and that the campaign of the winning candidates spent excessive amounts of money that would have been impossible to raise without employer contributions.
Fox did find that at least two LMRDA violations occurred in the conduct of the Sept. 30, 2010, election, but
she determined that those violations alone did not affect the outcome of the election.

In response to a question from BNA on the complaint in August 2011, a DOL spokesman confirmed that the complaint had been dismissed and said a letter of reasoning probably would be issued in September. When asked July 25 why the letter was just being issued nearly a year later, the spokesman said, ‘‘[T]his was a far-reaching investigation, with many issues and many
witnesses to interview.’’

Complaint Filed After Incumbent Defeated. ATU International Vice President Larry Hanley was elected international president in the September 2010 election, beating out incumbent Ronald Heintzman for the top job in a hotly contested election. In January 2011, Hunt, who was president of ATU Local 757, filed a complaint with DOL alleging that numerous LMRDA violations were
committed during the election.

Hunt, who became president of Local 757 after Heintzman was appointed president of the international in July 2010 (126 DLR A-11, 7/2/10), alleged that Hanley; International Vice President Bob Baker, who ultiultimately was elected international executive vice president; and International Vice President Javier Perez, who was re-elected, used ATU funds to pay for travel to campaign in the United States and Canada prior to the election. He further alleged that Baker used an ATU cell phone to contact union locals to solicit support for his campaign.

An investigation of both Hanley’s and Baker’s weekly expense reports for the four months preceding the election found that they were reimbursed only for travel involving official union business, Fox wrote. Also, a review of campaign records showed that Hanley received $3,172.66 in reimbursements and Baker received $2,833.35 in reimbursements for this time period from campaign funds, not from union funds, she added.

The investigation into Perez found that he only received reimbursement for travel for official ATU business. On those occasions when he traveled with Hanley to campaign, the investigation found he was either on personal or vacation time, Fox wrote.

As for Baker’s alleged use of an ATU cell phone for campaigning, the investigation found no evidence that he used his union-issued cell phone to campaign.

Fox rejected Hunt’s allegation that several union officers, including Hanley and Baker, must have campaigned on paid union time because they each took little or no vacation time in the three months prior to the election. She wrote that in the months preceding the election Hanley took eight days of vacation and Baker took 11 days of vacation.

The investigation identified the dates of Aug. 14-16 and Sept. 3-4 as days the Hanley/Baker slate campaigned. After reviewing work assignments and weekly activity logs, the department determined that there was no campaigning during the time they were on assignment and no funds were expended during any of the vacation days, she wrote.

Allegations Employers Contributed to Campaign. Hunt made more than 20 separate allegations that the Hanley/Baker campaign spent large amounts of money on the campaign that they could not have raised without employer contributions. Among those expenditures were a fund-raiser at a bar in New York City, the hiring of two public relations firms, the production of endorsement videos that were posted on YouTube, and multiple campaign mailings of about 250 pieces each.

Fox wrote that a review of the campaign’s financial records of receipts and disbursements found that the campaign ‘‘required all individuals making contributions to their campaign to sign statements that they were not employers.’’

Addressing each allegation separately, she found that there was no evidence that any violation of the LMRDA occurred.

For example, regarding the allegation that the fundraiser at the New York City bar must have been financed by employers, Fox said there was a cash bar, the union only used areas of the bar that were open to the general public, and the campaign made clear to attendees that it only would accept donations from nonemployers. While Sal Albanese of Mesirow Financial attended the fund-raiser, the investigation found that Hanley told him that neither he nor his wife could donate any money since he was an employer, she wrote.

Fox did uphold an allegation that delegates from ATU Local 113 were not given proper notice of the nomination and election of delegates. Noting that the LMRDA requires that election notices be mailed to members not less than 15 days prior to an election, Fox said the investigation found that the notice was posted at work locations but was not mailed to any members. Because Local 113 only sent 30 delegates to the convention and the closest margin of victory in the ATU election was 75 votes, Fox found that the violation would not have affected the outcome of the election.

Fox also upheld an allegation that two locals violated the LMRDA by used their websites to endorse candidates for the election. ‘‘However, because these two locals sent a total of 14 delegates to the International Convention. . . the effect of the violations . . . was not enough to change the outcome of the election,’’ she wrote

 

BY MICHELLE AMBER

 

Download PDF