R. ALEXANDER ACOSTA, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff, Appellant,
LOCAL UNION 26, UNITE HERE, Defendant, Appellee.
FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. George A. O'Toole, Jr., U.S. District
B. Ross, Attorney, Appellate Staff, Civil Division, with whom
Chad A. Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Andrew E.
Lelling, United States Attorney, William D. Weinreb, Acting
United States Attorney, Mark B. Stern, Attorney, Appellate
Staff, Civil Division, Nicholas C. Geale, Acting Solicitor of
Labor, Beverly Dankowitz, Associate Solicitor, Civil Rights
and Labor-Management Division, Clinton Wolcott, Counsel for
Labor-Management Programs, and Anna Laura Bennett, Attorney,
Department of Labor, were on brief, for appellant.
Richard G. McCracken, with whom Paul L. More and McCracken,
Stemerman & Holsberry LLP, were on brief, for appellee.
Thompson, Circuit Judge, Souter, [*] Associate Justice, and Selya,
SOUTER, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE.
suit brought against defendant Local Union 26, UNITE HERE,
the Secretary of Labor claims that the union violated §
104 of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of
1959 (the "LMRDA") when it refused to allow one of
its members to take notes while inspecting its collective
bargaining agreements ("CBAs") with other
employers. The district court held that the member's
statutory right to "inspect" the agreements did not
encompass a right to take notes while doing so. We affirm.
material facts may be stated briefly. Dimie Poweigha is a
member of Local 26. The union has negotiated more than 40
CBAs, including one with Poweigha's employer. Poweigha
was dissatisfied with the administration of Local 26, and
asked the union to permit her to review 37 CBAs Local 26 had
negotiated with employers other than her own. Eventually,
once the Secretary of Labor got involved, the union offered
Poweigha opportunities for this purpose, but said that it
would not allow her to take notes on the CBAs during her
inspections. When the Secretary learned of the union's
position, he filed this suit, contending that the limitation
on note-taking violated § 104 of the LMRDA, 29 U.S.C.
§ 414, in particular, the union's obligation under
§ 104 to make such CBAs "available for inspection
by any member or by any employee whose rights are affected by
parties filed dueling motions for judgment on the pleadings,
and the district court granted judgment for Local 26 on the
issue before us. We review a district court's judgment on
the pleadings de novo. See Rezende v. Ocwen Loan
Servicing, LLC, 869 F.3d 40, 42 (1st. Cir. 2017).
104 reads, in relevant part, as follows:
It shall be the duty of the secretary or corresponding
principal officer of each labor organization, in the case of
a local labor organization, to forward a copy of each
collective bargaining agreement made by such labor
organization with any employer to any employee who requests
such a copy and whose rights as such employee are directly
affected by such agreement, and in the case of a labor
organization other than a local labor organization, to
forward a copy of any such agreement to each constituent unit
which has members directly affected by such agreement; and
such officer shall maintain at the principal office of the
labor organization of which he is an officer copies of any
such agreement made or received by such labor organization,
which copies shall be available for inspection by any
member or by any employee whose rights are affected by
29 U.S.C. § 414 (emphasis added).
accord with standard definition and common understanding, an
"inspection" is the "[a]ct or process of
inspecting," Webster's New International
Dictionary 1286 (2d ed. 1957), and to
"inspect" does not mean to take notes, but rather
"[t]o look upon; to view closely and critically, esp. so
as to ascertain quality or state, to detect errors, etc.; to
scrutinize," id. Taking the plain meaning of
the word as its statutory meaning is buttressed by two
features of the LMRDA that convince us that Congress did not
intend the relevant clause to give union members a right to
take notes while inspecting other employers'
the LMRDA uses the term "inspect" elsewhere, and
the drafting and legislative history of that neighboring
provision makes clear that Congress did not intend the term
to include a right to take notes. Section 401(c) of the
LMRDA, enacted at the same time as § 104, provides that:
Every bona fide candidate shall have the right, once within
30 days prior to an election of a labor organization in which
he is a candidate, to inspect a list containing the
names and last known addresses of all members of the labor
organization who are subject to a collective bargaining
agreement requiring membership therein as a condition of
employment, which list shall be maintained ...