PHARAMOND CONILLE; YVES RIGAUD; MICHELET AUGUSTE; LOCAL 402, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; JACQUES LARAQUE; GUY RAPHAEL; JEAN LOUIS; JAMES SHEA; ELGA BERNARD; HODELIN AUBOURG; GABRIEL BERNARD; VERLEEN LEWIS; CARMESUZE MICHAUD; KALLOT JEAN-FRANCOIS; MONIQUE MODAN; JOSEPH BERLUS; MARIE AVELINE FORTUNAT; VALENTINE DUBUISSON; FRANCHETTE DORSAINVIL; SALLY ROGERS; STANLEY SIENKIEWICZ; YVONNE VASSELL, Plaintiffs, Appellants,
COUNCIL 93, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, Defendants, Appellees.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. William G. Young,
U.S. District Judge]
D. Stern, with whom Mark D. Stern P.C. was on brief, for
F. Kelly, with whom Sasha N. Gillin and Segal Roitman, LLP
were on brief, for appellees.
Torruella, Lipez, and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
TORRUELLA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Local 402 and its Vice President, Pharamond Conille
("Conille"), appeal from the district court's
findings, after a bench trial, that Local 402 never requested
to appeal its deactivation to the International Executive
Board ("IEB") and that it failed to prove that it
was deactivated in retaliation for having exercised its
free-speech rights. Because we find that Local 402 did
request an appeal to the IEB, we reverse the district
court's judgment and remand the case for an internal
appeal to the IEB.
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
("AFSCME") is an international labor union
affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress
of Industrial Organizations
("AFL-CIO"). AFSCME is the parent of Council 93, an
intermediate union body representing approximately 36, 000
workers employed by public and private employers in
Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Council
93's representation is broken down into thirteen
geographic and organizational legislative districts, which
include the Massachusetts Department of Developmental
Services ("DDS"). As an affiliate of Council 93,
Local 402 was chartered in 1953 to represent the DDS
employees working at the Fernald State School
("Fernald") in Waltham,
early 1990s, Massachusetts began to deinstitutionalize mental
health patients and place them into community-based
residential facilities. As a result, petitions were filed to
amend the jurisdiction of some local unions to cover
community-based facilities. Massachusetts announced its plan
to close Fernald in 2003.
November 2011, Conille, Local 402's Vice President, was
elected to serve as a DDS representative on Council 93's
Executive Board, a position to which he was reelected in
2015. During this time, Conille fought to reform the
disproportionate representation of Local 402 members on the
Executive Board, inquired about the lack of racial minorities
on the Executive Board, and advocated for racial minorities
within the union.
March 2017, Pat Glynn, the Director of Strategic Planning for
Council 93, requested that Local 402 be deactivated because
"[t]here [were] no employees working within the
jurisdiction of Local 402" after Fernald officially
closed earlier that year. In response, Local 402's President,
Raymond McKinnon ("McKinnon"), wrote to a number of
people, including AFSCME's President, Lee Saunders
("Saunders"), to stop the deactivation. He also
sent a cease and desist letter to Council 93's Executive
Director, Frank Moroney ("Moroney"), and filed
charges with AFSCME's Judicial Panel for allegedly
interfering with Local 402's ability to serve its
members. In addition to McKinnon's efforts, Conille
attempted to revise Local 402's charter to include
additional worksites but was unsuccessful.
made the decision to deactivate Local 402 on or about May 30,
2017. On June 2, 2017, AFSCME sent an order to Local 402 to
return its funds and property. In response, on June 7, 2017,
Local 402's legal counsel, Mark Stern
("Stern"), sent a letter challenging Saunders's
decision and requesting that the deactivation be rescinded.
AFSCME declined to acquiesce, stating that its decision to
deactivate Local 402 was made in accordance with AFSCME's
constitution. On June 12 or 13, 2017, the IEB ratified
Saunders's decision to deactivate Local 402.
deactivation, members of Local 402 were transferred to Local
646 or Local 1730. Conille was transferred to Local 646. At
the next Council 93 Executive Board meeting, Conille was
notified that he would no longer sit as a representative of
Local 402 because this local had been deactivated and he was
now a member of Local 646. Furthermore, Local 646 already had
a representative on the Executive Board.
August 14, 2017, Conille and eighteen other members of Local
402 ("Local 402" collectively) filed suit against
Council 93 and AFSCME ("Council 93" collectively).
In the amended complaint filed on September 8, 2017, Local
402 alleged that: (1) Local 402 was denied equal voting
rights as guaranteed under the AFSCME constitution and the
Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
("LMRDA") (Count I); (2) Local 402's
deactivation violated Article IX, Section 35 of the AFSCME
constitution (Count II); and (3) Local 402 was deactivated as
a retaliatory measure for Conille's free speech (Count
III). Council 93 counterclaimed, asserting that Local 402
failed to return its assets, bank accounts, and records as
required under its constitution following deactivation.
September 22, 2017, Local 402 filed a motion for partial
summary judgment on Counts I and II, which Council 93
opposed. The district court denied summary judgment as to
Count I because it found that there was a genuine issue of
material fact regarding the alleged "defects in the
proportional voting" system implemented. As to Count II,
the court held that Council 93's interpretation of
AFSCME's constitution -- that is, that what had occurred
was a deactivation of Local 402 under Article V, Section 6
and not a merger or consolidation under Article IX, Section
35 as Local 402 contended -- was reasonable, and thus, the
court would defer to Council 93's interpretation. The
district court, however, clarified the scope of its decision
by stating, "all I decided, in deciding summary judgment
against [Local 402] on Count 2, was that the interpretation
of the [AFSCME] [c]onstitution, as advanced by the Council,
was reasonable and . . . therefore the Court ought defer to
it." As a result, the court left the question of Local
402's alleged wrongful deactivation for trial but decided
it would defer to AFSCME's interpretation of its
constitution --that Article V, Section 6, governed their
breach of contract claim. A two-day bench trial took place on
October 26-27, 2017.
district court issued its ruling from the bench on December
4, 2017. The court found in favor of Local 402 as to Count I,
noting that the disproportionate representation on Council
93's Executive Board was not reasonable under Title I of
the LMRDA. It, however, ruled in favor of Council 93 as to
both Counts II and III. The district court devoted almost the
entirety of its bench ruling to the disproportionate
representation of Council 93's Executive Board. As to the
remaining counts, the court merely stated that Local 402
failed to persuade the court that it was entitled to judgment
in its favor. The court stated that it would "supplement
its order with more detailed findings and rulings." It
then entered judgment.
December 14, 2017, Council 93 filed a motion to amend
judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), requesting that the
court enter judgment for Council 93 as to its counterclaim.
On December 20, 2017, Local 402 filed its own post-judgment
motion. The district court "denied" both
parties' post-judgment motions on December 22, 2017,
stating that, "[a]s this [c]ourt has already explained,
a full memorandum of decision will [be] enter[ed] pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 52. These motions are more properly addressed as
motions to enforce the judgment."
on January 2, 2018, Council 93 appealed from the district
court's decision on Count I and its dismissal of Council
93's counterclaim.  On January 5, 2018, Local 402 requested
an open-ended extension of time to appeal until the district
court had provided the promised findings of facts and
conclusions of law. The district court granted the motion on
January 8, 2018. While still waiting for the ...