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February 14, 2023

Challenging the holding of a scheduled union election

Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' petition to enjoin AFSCME's Local 983 from holding the duly scheduled election and directed Local 983 to provide a plan, to be reviewed by Plaintiffs for a future election within 30 days. The Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court's ruling and dismissed Plaintiff's petition.

The Appellate Division opined that Supreme Court had "improvidently exercised its discretion to enjoin [Local 983] from proceeding with their scheduled election," explaining that as Local 983 is an unincorporated association, the Plaintiff's petition fails because it does not plead "that each individual union member authorized or ratified the [allegedly] unlawful actions", citing Matter of Agramonte v Local 461, Dist. Council 37, Am. Fedn. of State County and Mun. Empls., 209 AD3d 478, and other authorities including Martin v Curran, 303 NY 276.

Further, said the Appellate Division, "even had the Martin requirement not applied, [Plaintiffs] failed to exhaust their contractual remedies before bringing this action," noting  AFSCME's constitution prohibits members from instituting a civil action without first availing themselves of the remedies in its constitution. The remedies available to Plaintiffs' include a procedure to challenge the conduct of an election so that a protesting party has an opportunity to be heard.

The decision also points out that provisions of AFSCME's constitution allow petitioners to "appeal an adverse determination to a judicial panel, then to a full judicial panel, and then again to an international convention." In addition, the Appellate Division commented that the Union's constitution "also gives the union the authority to set aside an election outcome and hold a new election upon a finding of a violation."

In the words of the Appellate Division "Petitioners have not advanced a sufficient reason to excuse them from exhausting that remedial process."

Click HERE to access the Appellate Division's decision posted on the Internet.

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