Metro’s largest union will appeal a U.S. District Court ruling ordering new elections for 22 officers, including President Jackie L. Jeter, after allegations of misconduct in the December 2015 vote.
The disputed vote, which resulted in Jeter’s reelection, was deemed void after Judge George C. Hazel found that the union did not rebut evidence of rules violations, including that it approved “alternate, secret” eligibility policies for officer candidates and failed to adequately inform its membership of the vote. Former U.S. labor secretary Tom Perez first raised the allegations in a June 2016 complaint.
The Labor Department alleged that eligible union members were thwarted from running for office, and that candidacy rules weren’t applied consistently across the slate.
For example, some members who had fallen behind on dues payments — and were thus ineligible to run for office — were permitted to enter into payment plans to restore their standing, the lawsuit said. Others weren’t given the same opportunity, according to the suit.
“The option of entering into such a payment plan was not announced publicly to the Union membership,” Hazel wrote in his ruling.
The July ruling ordered a new vote for more than half of the 40 officer positions, including key posts such as president and first and second vice president, and financial secretary-treasurer.
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents more than 9,000 Metro workers, filed its notice of appeal Tuesday in U.S. District Court. The union declined to comment on its decision Wednesday, however, directing a reporter to the appeal itself — which had not been posted.
The union had argued in previous court filings that while election rules were not followed “to the letter,” the members did not act in bad faith. The union also charged that it would be unfair to compel its membership to hold a $300,000 election redo.
It was not immediately clear whether the notice of appeal would delay the special election, which is to be overseen by the Labor Department. The union’s next elections are scheduled for December 2018. Hazel, in his ruling, said that with the next election “nearly 18 months” away, it was not sufficient to simply have the labor secretary supervise that contest.
According to a section of U.S. Code on labor election disputes, a judge’s order for new elections can be appealed, “but an order directing an election shall not be stayed pending appeal.” That would appear to mean the order for new elections remains in effect, although no date has been publicly set.
The judge’s ruling doesn’t boot officers from their current posts; they are to continue serving in their roles until new elections are held, according to the Labor Department. The Labor Department said Wednesday that a timeline for the new election has not been established.
Asked whether the appeal will delay the vote, the department did not answer directly, but a spokesman cited the same passage from the federal Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which reads:
(d) An order directing an election, dismissing a complaint, or designating elected officers of a labor organization shall be appealable in the same manner as the final judgment in a civil action, but an order directing an election shall not be stayed pending appeal.
This post has been updated.