Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The full case caption appears at the end of this opinion. LOKEN, Circuit Judge. In October 1995, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE),a national labor organization, placed its Local 900 in trusteeship on grounds offinancial mismanagement and conflict among the local’s officers. Local 900represents federal employees at the Army Reserve Personnel Center in St. Louis. Brenda Reed, a member of Local 900 and a supporter of its ousted president,complained to the Department of Labor that AFGE imposed the trusteeship tosuppress dissent against its national leadership. After the Department investigatedand declined to challenge the trusteeship, Reed commenced this action against AFGEand its president, John Sturdivant, alleging a violation of the trusteeship provisionsof Title III of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (the”LMRDA”), 29 U.S.C. �� 461-466. The district court [FOOTNOTE 1] dismissed the complaint,concluding Title III does not apply to trusteeships imposed upon local unions thatrepresent only federal government employees. Reed appeals. Reviewing the districtcourt’s dismissal de novo, we affirm. See Furrer v. Brown, 62 F.3d 1092, 1093 (8thCir. 1995) (standard of review), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1167 (1996). Congress enacted the LMRDA to address corruption in labor organizations.Title III addresses the abusive use of trusteeships by national unions to control theselection of local delegates to national conventions, to install corrupt local leaders,or to plunder a local union’s assets. See S. Rep. No. 86-187 (1959), reprinted in 1LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF THE LABOR-MANAGEMENT REPORTING AND DISCLOSUREACT OF 1959, at 413-15 (N.L.R.B. 1959) (hereafter cited as “LEGISLATIVE HISTORY”).In general, Title III establishes reporting requirements, limits the permissible reasonsfor imposing a trusteeship, regulates voting by delegates from trusteed bodies, andprohibits unusual transfers of funds from the trusteed body to the parent labororganization. See 29 U.S.C. �� 461-463. Title III also contains a broad private rightof action — “Any member or subordinate body” may sue to enforce these provisionsand recover “such relief (including injunctions) as may be appropriate.” 29 U.S.C.� 464(a). The issue in this case is whether Title III applies to a trusteeship imposed byAFGE on Local 900, which represents only federal government employees. Ingeneral, the LMRDA applies to “labor organizations” who deal with “employers.”See 29 U.S.C. � 402(i). The United States is excluded from the LMRDA definitionof “employer.” See 29 U.S.C. � 402(e). Therefore, Local 900 is not a “labororganization” under the LMRDA. But other AFGE locals represent employees whowork in the private sector. That makes AFGE a “mixed” union, one that is a “labororganization” for purposes of the LMRDA. See 29 C.F.R. � 451.3(a)(4). [FOOTNOTE 2] The issue of whether Title III applies to this case is difficult because thevarious sections of Title III use different terminology in referring to the organizationthat has been placed under trusteeship. The first section, 29 U.S.C. � 461, establishesreporting requirements for labor organizations that place a “subordinate labororganization” under trusteeship. [FOOTNOTE 3] Because Local 900 is not a “labor organization,”subordinate or otherwise, these reporting requirements of Title III clearly do not applyto its trusteeship. But the next three sections of Title III contain the substantiverestrictions Reed alleges have been violated and authorize the private action she hasfiled. These sections refer to trusteeships imposed by a “labor organization” over a”subordinate body,” a term that is neither defined in the statute nor explained in itslegislative history. See 29 U.S.C. �� 462-464. [FOOTNOTE 4] Reed argues that, as a matter of plainmeaning, the broader reference in these sections to a “subordinate body” includesLocal 900, even though it is not a “labor organization.” AFGE responds that thedistrict court properly dismissed this action because Title III, read as a whole and inthe context of its legislative history, applies only to trusteeships over “subordinatebodies” that are “labor organizations.” As the district court recognized, in resolving this thorny question of statutoryconstruction, we do not write on a clean slate. Four other circuits have considered thequestion and concluded that the term “subordinate body” when used in Title III meanssubordinate “labor organization.” See New Jersey County & Mun. Council # 61 v.American Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees, 478 F.2d 1156 (3d Cir.), cert.denied, 414 U.S. 975 (1973); Colorado Labor Council v. AFL-CIO, 481 F.2d 396(10th Cir. 1973); Kanawha Valley Labor Council v. AFL-CIO, 667 F.2d 436 (4th Cir.1981); Smith v. Office & Prof’l Employees Int’l Union, 821 F.2d 355 (6th Cir. 1987).Two of those cases, AFSCME and Smith, considered the question before us andexpressly held that Title III did not apply to a trusteeship imposed by a mixed national.union on a local that represented only government employees. Moreover, theSecretary of Labor, who has administrative and enforcement responsibilities underTitle III, has filed an amicus brief urging us to affirm and noting that the Departmentof Labor has consistently construed Title III’s trusteeship provisions as not applyingto subordinate bodies that do not meet the LMRDA definition of labor organizations. In our view, the response of Congress to this long-recognized issue is of greatsignificance. In 1978, some years after the decisions in AFSCME and ColoradoLabor Council, Congress subjected federal employee unions to comprehensiveregulation in the Civil Service Reform Act (the “CSRA”), codified at 5 U.S.C.�� 7101-7135. The CSRA expressly provides that labor organizations seeking torepresent federal employees “shall . . . comply with trusteeship and electionstandards,” and that same section directs the Secretary of Labor to prescribeimplementing regulations which “conform generally to the principles applied to labororganizations in the private sector.” 5 U.S.C. �� 7120(c) and (d). While both Title III of the LMRDA and the CSRA regulate trusteeships, theirrespective remedial regimes are very different. Under Title III, union members maycomplain of trusteeship violations to the Secretary, who “shall” bring an action indistrict court for appropriate relief if there is probable cause to believe a violation hasoccurred. In addition, the complaining member may bring a private action. See 29U.S.C. � 464(a). Under the CSRA, on the other hand, the Secretary in response to acomplaint “may require a labor organization to cease and desist from violations” ofthe trusteeship regulations, 5 U.S.C. � 7120(d) (emphasis added), and there is noprivate right of action permitting the complainant to challenge the alleged violationdirectly in federal court. See Karahalios v. National Fed’n of Fed. Employees, 489U.S. 527 (1989); Celli v. Shoell, 40 F.3d 324, 327-28 (10th Cir. 1994); Martinez v.American Fed’n of Govt. Employees, 980 F.2d 1039, 1041 n.1 (5th Cir. 1993). Thesecontrasting provisions reflect a legislative intent to subject trusteeships imposed onfederal employee unions to the administrative remedies of the CSRA, rather than thejudicial remedies of Title III of the LMRDA. [FOOTNOTE 5] Given this long history, we conclude the district court properly construed theterm “subordinate body” in Title III. While Reed’s plain meaning argument mighthave considerable force if presented to us as a question of first impression, there arenow twenty-five years of consistent judicial, administrative, and legislative historyto the contrary. After two circuits construed Title III as not applying to trusteeshipsimposed upon local unions of federal employees, Congress responded by enacting theCSRA, which mandates the same substantive standards but is enforced by exclusivelyadministrative remedies. In these circumstances, we decline to read into the LMRDAa fundamentally different judicial remedy. Finally, Reed argues that her complaint should have been dismissed withoutprejudice. The district court dismissed her complaint for lack of subject matterjurisdiction because Title III does not apply to a trusteeship imposed upon Local 900.Reed argues this jurisdictional dismissal is not on the merits and should be withoutprejudice. We disagree. The district court had jurisdiction to consider Reed’s claimunder 29 U.S.C. � 464(a). Her complaint failed to state a claim on which relief couldbe granted under that statute. That is a disposition on the merits. See Bell v. Hood,327 U.S. 678, 682 (1946); Health Cost Controls v. Skinner, 44 F.3d 535, 537 (7th Cir.1995). A dismissal for this reason is with prejudice. See Ahmed v. United States,147 F.3d 791, 797 (8th Cir. 1998). Whether Reed now retains any timely,unpreempted, unprecluded state law cause of action is an issue not before us, and wedecline to consider it. The judgment of the district court is affirmed. A true copy. Attest: CLERK, U. S. COURT OF APPEALS, EIGHTH CIRCUIT. :::FOOTNOTES::: FN* The HONORABLE ANDREW W. BOGUE, United States District Judge forthe District of South Dakota, sitting by designation. FN1 The HONORABLE JEAN C. HAMILTON, Chief Judge of the United StatesDistrict Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. FN2 Other circuits have held that government workers who belong to a mixednational union are protected by Title I of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. �� 411-415, thestatute’s “bill of rights” provisions. See, e.g., Wildberger v. American Fed’n of Gov’tEmployees, 86 F.3d 1188, 1192-93 (D.C. Cir. 1996). We have not had occasion toconsider that issue, and it is not controlling here because Title III’s trusteeshipprovisions were intended to protect the trusteed local organization, not its individualmembers. See, e.g., Gesnik v. Grand Lodge, Int’l Ass’n of Machinists, 831 F.2d 214,216 (10th Cir. 1987); S. Rep. No. 86-187, reprinted in 1 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY, supra,at 413-15 (listing only harms to the trusteed organization). FN3 This section as originally written referred to trusteeships over “subordinateorganizations.” The word “labor” was added as a technical amendment by the Senatecommittee, whose report described this addition as merely a clarifying amendment,not a substantive change. See 1 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY, supra, at 397-98. FN4 The heading for 29 U.S.C. � 463 is “labor organizations under trusteeship,”but the text of the section uses the term “subordinate body.” Headings are usuallygiven little weight in construing a statute but may be used to clarify an ambiguity.See Minnesota Transp. Regulation Bd. v. United States, 966 F.2d 335, 339 (8th Cir.1992). One possible explanation for Congress’s use of the term “subordinate body,”rather than “subordinate labor organization,” in these parts of Title III was an intentto regulate trusteeships imposed by national unions on intermediate bodies that do notfunction as local unions, such as general committees, system boards, joint boards, andjoint councils. But if that was the drafters’ intent, their use of a term broader thanlabor organization became unnecessary when intermediate bodies were added to thedefinition of labor organization on the Senate floor. See 29 U.S.C. �� 402(i), 481(d);2 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY, at 1121. FN5 In this case, consistent with the Secretary’s position as amicus, the letter rulingrejecting Reed’s administrative complaint stated that the Department of Labor hadinvestigated under the CSRA, not the LMRDA. See 29 C.F.R. Part 458.
BRENDA J. REED, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. JOHN N. STURDIVANT; AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, Defendants-Appellees. No. 98-1299 United States Court of AppealsFor The Eighth Circuit Appeal from the United StatesDistrict Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Submitted: December 14, 1998 Filed: May 7, 1999 Before BEAM and LOKEN, Circuit Judges, and BOGUE, District Judge.
Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.

More From ALM

Premium Subscription

With this subscription you will receive unlimited access to high quality, online, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry. This is perfect for attorneys licensed in multiple jurisdictions or for attorneys that have fulfilled their CLE requirement but need to access resourceful information for their practice areas.
View Now

Team Accounts

Our Team Account subscription service is for legal teams of four or more attorneys. Each attorney is granted unlimited access to high quality, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry along with administrative access to easily manage CLE for the entire team.
View Now

Bundle Subscriptions

Gain access to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with our 2 bundle options! Our Compliance bundles are curated by CLE Counselors and include current legal topics and challenges within the industry. Our second option allows you to build your bundle and strategically select the content that pertains to your needs. Both options are priced the same.
View Now

Complex Claims & Litigation Forum 2024

February 26, 2024 - February 28, 2024
Las Vegas, NV

The conference experience aimed to help insurers and litigators Prevent, Prepare, and Prevail in complex claims cases and risks.

Learn More

Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards 2024

March 06, 2024
London, UK

Women, Influence & Power in Law UK Awards honors women lawyers who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession.

Learn More

Florida Legal Awards (FLLA) 2024

April 04, 2024
Miami, FL

Daily Business Review honors attorneys and judges who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession in Florida.

Learn More


Gill & Chamas, LLC seeks an attorney to work in their Woodbridge, NJ Office. Candidate must possess either of the following: 1-3+ year...

Apply Now ›

Associate Attorney

Seeking Estate Administration Attorney for busy boutique office. Huge upside potential and growth opportunity.NYS Bar Admission and relevan...

Apply Now ›

Philadelphia Private Client Services Associate

Duane Morris LLP has an opening in its Philadelphia office for an associate or counsel to join its Private Client Services Practice Group. I...

Apply Now ›

Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari

New Jersey Law Journal

Frederick D. Miceli has joined the firm as Of Counsel

View Announcement ›


New Jersey Law Journal

Professional Announcement

View Announcement ›

Aaronson Rappaport Feinstein & Deutsch, LLP

New York Law Journal


View Announcement ›