– Re: FREE SPEECH - FIRST AMENDMENT
In Reply To
U.S. Supreme Court
SHEET METAL WORKERS v. LYNN, 488 U.S. 347 (1989) 488 U.S. 347
SHEET METAL WORKERS' INTERNATIONAL ASSN. ET AL. v. LYNN
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
Argued November 7, 1988
Decided January 18, 1989
In an attempt to alleviate a financial crisis plaguing petitioner local union (Local), which is an affiliate of petitioner international union (International), the International's president appointed Richard Hawkins as trustee to supervise the Local's affairs, with authority under the International's constitution to suspend the Local's officers and business representatives. Five days after a special meeting at which the Local's membership defeated Hawkins' proposal to increase their dues, Hawkins notified respondent Lynn, an elected business representative of the Local, that he was being removed "indefinitely" from his position because of his outspoken opposition to the proposal at the meeting. After exhausting his intraunion remedies, Lynn brought suit in Federal District Court, claiming that his removal violated the free speech provision of Title I of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA or Act). The court granted summary judgment for petitioners under Finnegan v. Leu, 456 U.S. 431 , which held that the discharge of a union's appointed business agents by the union president, following his election over the incumbent for whom the business agents had campaigned, did not violate Title I. However, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Finnegan did not control where the dismissed union official was elected rather than appointed, and rejecting the contention that Lynn's removal was valid because it was carried out under Hawkins' authority as trustee.
The removal of an elected business agent, in retaliation for statements he made at a union meeting in opposition to a dues increase sought by the union trustee, violates the LMRDA. Pp. 352-359.