On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil No. 87-5689/5694/5695/5697/5698/5747).
Seitz, Stapleton and Cowen, Circuit Judges.
This appeal arises from an order of the district court denying plaintiffs' claims against six Local Lodges and their officers in a dispute over ownership of the Local Lodge treasuries. After a bench trial, the court issued an order holding that the defendant Locals are entitled to retain their treasuries. The order further directed that judgment be entered in favor of the plaintiffs and against the Local Lodges and their officers for unpaid per capita taxes until the date of NLRB certification of a rival union, the IWNA. Finally, the court entered judgment against the IWNA for tortious interference with the obligation of the Local Lodges to pay per capita taxes to the plaintiffs.
Upon review, we will reverse the district court's determination that the Local Lodges are entitled to retain their treasuries. We will affirm the court's ruling that the Local Lodges are required to pay a per capita tax until the date of the NLRB certification of the IWNA. Finally, we will affirm the district court's determination pertaining to plaintiff's claims of alleged tortious interference under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.
This case consists of six cases which have been consolidated for pretrial, trial and post-trial purposes. The main plaintiff in these cases is the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers ("Boilermakers").*fn1 The Boilermakers is an unincorporated labor organization within the meaning of section 2(5) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"). The defendants are six local unions and their officers, including the named defendant, Local Lodge D504 as well as Local Lodges formerly known as D17, D54, D554, D376 and D547 ("Locals").*fn2 In the six complaints, the Boilermakers claim entitlement to all books, records, properties funds and assets currently held by the Locals.
In 1983, the Boilermakers began discussions with the Cement, Lime, Gypsum and Allied Workers International Union ("Cement Union") concerning a possible merger of the two organizations.*fn3 Merger negotiations were conducted for a period of approximately two years before a final Merger Agreement came to fruition on April 1, 1984. App. at 2580.
The dispute over the treasuries began following the Locals' disaffiliation from the Boilermakers. The events leading to the disaffiliation began with the first Consolidated Convention following the merger which was held in August of 1986. At that convention, there was disagreement over who was eligible to vote for the International vice president. As a result of a decision against restricting eligible voters to the Cement Division of the Boilermakers, the former Cement Union president, Richard Northrip, was not elected to a vice presidency of the Boilermakers. Northrip and those who supported him then formed the Independent Workers of North America ("IWNA"). The IWNA sought to become the bargaining agent for Boilermaker Local Lodges which formerly were Local Unions in the Cement Union.
Prompted by the defeat of the Cement Union's candidate for the International Vice-President at-large of the Boilermakers, the members of each defendant Local Lodge held an internal vote and in each case, the members voted to disaffiliate from the Boilermakers.*fn4 Many of the former Cement Union employees then joined the rival IWNA. Between November 4, 1986 and February 9, 1987, the IWNA filed six petitions with the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") seeking elections for certification of a new bargaining representative at locations where a Boilermakers' Local Lodge was currently certified as the bargaining representative.*fn5 App. at 2299-2304. The six Locals involved in the instant litigation authorized and directed that their Local assets continue to be held in trust for the benefit of the workers. Pursuant to the internal disaffiliations which followed, all of the rank and file members of the Locals purported to resign their membership in the Boilermakers. In accordance with their resignations and disaffiliations, each of the Locals ceased sending per capita tax payments to the Boilermakers.*fn6 The Boilermakers claimed that the NLRB elections effectively reduced the membership of the six Locals to zero. On this basis, the Boilermakers' President then notified the officers of the Locals that they were disbanded in accordance with the provisions of Article V, section 6 of the International Constitution.*fn7 Although they were requested to turn over all of the books, records, properties, funds and assets of the Local Lodge to the International Union, each Local refused to do so and this litigation ensued.
Two contracts form the basis of the present dispute -- the Merger Agreement and the Boilermakers' constitution. Both the Boilermakers and the Locals claim ownership of Local Union treasuries based on several provisions of these contracts. The Boilermakers' claim to the treasuries is founded upon Article V, section 6 and Article XXXVI, section 2 of their constitution (the "surrender" clauses) which they claim require the surrender of the treasuries upon the disaffiliation of the Locals. Article V, section 6 of the Boilermakers' Constitution provides in pertinent part:
Any local lodge having less than ten (10) active members shall be automatically disbanded and its Charter returned to the International Brotherhood, together with all books, records, properties, funds and assets (including trusts, trust funds or other trust properties held, operated or controlled by such Local Lodge) owned or held by such Local Lodge at the ...