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08/26/87 COMMUNICATION WORKERS AMERICA v. LARRY E.

Filed: August 26, 1987.

COMMUNICATION WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 5900 (FORMERLY 5709), AFL-CIO, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LARRY E. BRIDGETT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPEAL FROM THE MARION MUNICIPAL COURT, ROOM NO. 2,1 The Honorable Max F. Page, Judge, Cause No. M284-1798.

Ratliff, C.j., Neal, J. and Robertson, J., concur.

Author: Ratliff

RATLIFF, C.J.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

The Communication Workers of America, Local 5900, AFL-CIO (Union) appeals a judgment which denied the Union's attempt to collect fines imposed against Larry E. Bridgett and forty-three (43) other employees of Indiana Bell (Employees). We affirm.

FACTS

Between the 7th and 27th of August 1983, the Union conducted a strike against Indiana Bell Telephone Company as part of a nationwide telephone strike. The defendant Employees chose not to participate in the strike, crossed the picket line and continued to work and draw pay from Indiana Bell. In late August the Union filed charges against the Employees. The charges stated that the Employees were members of the union who by crossing the picket line, had violated Article XIX, section 1(c) and (e) of the Union's Constitution, which provides:

"Members may be fined, suspended or expelled by Locals in the manner provided in the Constitution for any of the following acts:

(c) Wilfully violating the constitution of the Union, Local Bylaws or Rules; . . .

(e) Working without proper Union authorization, during the period of a properly approved strike in or for an establishment which is being struck by the Union or Local; . . ."

Record at 384 and Volume 4, Exhibit A. A hearing was held before a union trial panel after the employees were given notice. Several of the employees were tried in abstentia and fined. The employees did not appeal the fine through the Union's internal appellate procedure.

In November of 1984, the Union filed forty-four (44) separate actions against the Employees in Marion County Small Claims Court. The cases were later removed and consolidated for trial in the Marion County Municipal Court. The Union sought to enforce the fines imposed against the Employees for the alleged violations of the Union Constitution. On July 8, 1986, a bench trial was held. The parties stipulated that the cases were consolidated for all purposes and that the evidence to be presented would be the same except for the amount of damages claimed against the individuals as fines. Record at 275. The Union presented evidence that the employees were enrolled as members when they crossed the picket lines and worked during the strike. The Employees presented evidence that prior to the strike they resigned and were no longer card carrying members when they crossed the picket lines. Several employees testified that they resigned by tendering oral or written resignations. Others testified that when they attempted to obtain information on the proper resignation procedure they were told either that they could not resign or that the time period for resignation had passed. On October 17, 1986, the trial court entered judgment against the Union. The Union appeals this judgment.

ISSUES

Although the Union presents three (3) issues for review, the following are ...


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