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Mendoza v. Amalgamated Transit Union International

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 27, 2018

JOSE MENDOZA, JR., individually and as a Member on behalf of the AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION LOCAL 1637, Plaintiffs,



         Presently before the court is plaintiff Jose Mendoza Jr.'s second motion for a preliminary injunction. (ECF No. 57). Defendants Amalgamated Transit Union International, Antonette Bryant, Lawrence Hanley, Carolyn Higgins, Tyler Home, James Lindsay, Keira McNett, Terry Richards, and Daniel Smith filed a response (ECF No. 59), to which plaintiff replied (ECF No. 60).

         Also before the court is plaintiff's motion to expedite consideration of plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. (ECF No. 61).

         I. Background

         i. Factual history

         The factual background of this case spans seven years. The court briefly summarizes plaintiff's allegations as relevant to the instant motions.

         Plaintiff was employed by Keolis Transit America (“Keolis”). Plaintiff ultimately obtained the title and responsibilities of president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1637 (“Local 1637”), which is a local union that is affiliated with Amalgamated Transit Union International (“International”).

         Between 2010 and 2016, plaintiff had multiple disputes with International, many of which revolved around the appropriate way to read Local 1637's bylaws. Two primary disagreements between plaintiff and International concern the appropriate rate of pay for the president of Local 1637 and whether the president could designate the secretary-treasurer position as less than full-time.[1]

         Article 4 of Local 1637's bylaws governs the president's rate of pay. (ECF No. 7-11). Plaintiff asserts that the version of the 2012 local bylaws sent to him by International president Lawrence Hanley reads “The President/Business Agent shall be paid at a daily rate of 8 hours times the highest hourly rate paid to an employee in their respective job classification for 40 hours per week to perform duties of the office.” (ECF No. 7-11). Plaintiff contends that International has the wrong version of Article 4 on file. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff believes that the correct version of Article 4 omits the term “respective.” (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff thus reads the bylaw language as entitling plaintiff to the highest rate of pay of any employee in the union (which is a mechanic's rate). (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff alleges that defendant International attempted to limit plaintiff's pay to the highest hourly rate paid to an employee in plaintiff's job classification of driver. (ECF No. 7).

         The second dispute, over whether president could designate the secretary-treasurer position as less than full time, turns on whether Local 1637 ever adopted amendments to its bylaws. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff contends that Local 1637's executive board's adopted bylaws that would allow the president to designate the secretary-treasurer as less than full time. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff alleges that defendant International would not approve of the adopted bylaws. (ECF No. 7).

         Plaintiff alleges that he took proactive measures to resolve the outstanding issues with International. On December 31, 2016, plaintiff agreed to repay Local 1637 for the alleged overpayments he received as president. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff asserts that he continues to make these payments without delay. (ECF No. 7).

         On January 14, 2017, plaintiff sent a correspondence to Hanley requesting information on the proper way to amend the bylaws to avoid future conflicts with International. (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff alleges that multiple emails were exchanged, during which plaintiff explained that quorum was often not met at Local 1637's meetings and the executive board was overwhelmingly in favor of amending the bylaws and planned on doing so pursuant to Section 13.2 of the ATU Constitution.[2] (ECF No. 7). Hanley expressed concern regarding the potentially anti-democratic nature of plaintiff's proposed method of amending the bylaws and suggested that Section 13.2 did not allow for amendment in the manner that plaintiff had described. (ECF No. 7).

         On January 30, 2017, Hanley notified plaintiff that International would request an audit of Local 1637 by an internal auditor (Tyler Home) with the assistance of International Vice President James Lindsay.

         In February and March of 2017, plaintiff and Hanley sent multiple emails to each other related to the proposed amendments (amongst other things). (ECF No. 7). Plaintiff took the position that Local 1637's executive board had validly adopted the amendments. (ECF No. 7). Hanley took the position that the amendments were not validly adopted. (ECF No. 7).

         On March 10, 2017, Home and Lindsay produced their internal audit report. (ECF No. 7). The report found that Mendoza committed financial malfeasance.[3] (ECF No. 7). On April 10, 2017, Hanley removed plaintiff from his position as president and imposed a trusteeship over Local 1637. Hanley's trusteeship order states, in part:

It has come to the attention of this office that there are several issues severely impacting the effective administration and functioning of Local 1637. These problems include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following: 1) overpayment to the president/business agent in the form of salary' and vacation pay; 2) multiple instances or financial malpractice and/or malfeasance including failure to complete required audits, failure to authenticate expenses for purposes or reimbursement, and an unauthorized withdrawal of cash to pay officers' salaries; 3) impediments to democratic functioning, resulting in chronic failure to achieve quorums at membership meetings; 4) failure to timely process grievances; and 5) failure to comply with the directive of the International President with respect to the role and responsibilities of the financial secretary-treasurer.

(ECF No. 7-39).

         The trusteeship order appointed Lindsay as trustee over Local 1637. (ECF No. 7-39). Hanley appointed International representative Antonette Bryant as hearing officer for the trusteeship hearing. (ECF No. 7).

         On April 26, 2017, Hanley sent a notice of trusteeship hearing to Local 1637 and to plaintiff. (ECF No. 7-42). On May 9th and 10th, 2017, Lindsay held the trusteeship hearing. Plaintiff alleges that two members of International's general counsel, Keira McNett and ...

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