Defendant International Molders and Allied Workers Union, Local 164 (hereafter Local 164), was a district trade union of northern California affiliated with, and subordinate to, defendant International Molders and Allied Workers Union (the International Union) with headquarters in the State of Ohio. Local 164's governing body was its executive board, whose acts and determinations required approval of its ultimate governing body, its membership.
By rules of Local 164 and its parent body, members whose dues were delinquent for two months became automatically suspended from membership, often resulting under collective bargaining agreements in loss of their employment. The International Union had issued a directive that such members be given reasonable written notice of their imminent suspension.
Plaintiff John W. Bray (Bray) was the elected, full time, salaried financial secretary of Local 164.
To comply with the International Union's directive, Local 164's executive board adopted a resolution, approved by its membership, that Bray as financial secretary notify delinquent members in writing of their delinquency at least 10 days in advance of their impending suspension. Bray's response is perhaps best indicated by his following trial testimony in the action from which this appeal has emanated. He had admitted refusing to comply with the executive board's and membership's order:
"A. It was nonsense to do it.
"Q. It was silly, wasn't it?
"Q. But you were instructed to do it nevertheless? Is that right?
"A. By the executive board, yes.
"Q. And you didn't follow their instructions, did you, Mr. Bray?
"A. I did not."
Three of Local 164's members, for that reason, filed charges against Bray for insubordination.
In appointing a trial committee of seven members the local's president invited Bray to suggest names, an invitation which Bray did not accept. The president then named seventeen persons from the local's membership, giving "each side" the right to "scratch" five names, thus to finally arrive at seven trial committee members. Bray "scratched" none.
The charges were thereafter tried. Bray was found guilty by the trial committee of insubordination, as charged. The sanction decided upon by the committee was removal from office. The proceedings leading to, and including, such removal from office were thereafter approved by the local's membership. Bray was thereupon removed from his office as financial secretary of Local 164, but not as one of its members.
Bray thereafter commenced the instant action, charging that he had "intentionally, wrongfully, and unlawfully" been removed from office, resulting, among other things, in "exemplary or punitive damages in excess of the sum of $500,000.00." Judgment, after trial to the court, was entered against Bray in the action, from which judgment he has appealed.
Hereafter our reference to "hearing" will be to the proceeding before the trial committee; and our reference to "trial," to that before the superior court.
But for his appellate contentions, which we consider seriatim and as phrased by him, Bray makes no argument that the procedures leading to his removal from office were other than as prescribed or permitted by the International Union's constitution and Local 164's bylaws.
Here, he argues: "The issue, of course, is whether Mr. Bray was required to follow the resolutions passed by the membership and the Executive Board. If there was a provision in the by-laws or constitution requiring the Financial Secretary to obey such directives, the Trial Committee decision would have been proper. But no such provision existed."
Bray misapprehends the law.
The supporting argument is that Bray was denied "due process," in that the trial committee appointed by the local's president "was not impartial." He insists: "It is simply not fair that an individual's triers of fact should be selected by his enemy and, in essence, his prosecutors. And it is an absolute denial of those rudimentary rights of due process to have triers of fact who openly espouse the conviction of the charged party before the trial itself. The trial court did find that William Garcia was biased against Mr. Bray. The court, however, went on to hold that the evidence did not show that Mr. Garcia was so prejudiced against Mr. Bray that he could not be impartial."
In respect of the above-noted Mr. Garcia, the trial court did find: "Although the court finds that Trial Committee person William Garcia was biased against Mr. Bray, there is no evidence that any member of the Trial
The evidence established that Bray, and his representative at the hearing, were aware of the claimed "bias" of Mr. Garcia before its commencement. Yet at the hearing's beginning Bray's only objection, without mention of Mr. Garcia, was to the trial committee generally and to another of its members. It was not until well after the hearing's commencement that an issue of Garcia's bias was raised. Bray's tardy objection to Mr. Garcia, then made, was overruled on the ground of its untimeliness.
Moreover, it will be remembered that Local 164's president had given Bray the opportunity to suggest members' names for the trial committee and thereafter to "scratch" off five names. Both offers had been rejected by Bray who thus had an opportunity to eliminate Mr. Garcia from the trial committee.
We opine, assuming arguendo that Mr. Garcia was prejudiced against Bray, relief therefrom was voluntarily and knowingly waived.
We note further that although Bray alone had immediate authority over the collection and delinquency of a member's dues, and suspension, he at no point indicated a willingness to conform to the executive board's and membership's resolutions. Removal from office was accordingly the only reasonable sanction.
No denial of due process nor other unfairness appears.
The contention concerns the trial, not the hearing.
The trial court concluded, after hearing and argument, that Bray's action was of the nature of "administrative mandamus" under Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5. Such proceedings, the statute says, "shall be heard by the court sitting without a jury." (Italics added; Code Civ. Proc., § 1094.5, subd. (a).) The contention will accordingly be treated as that Bray's action was not such a proceeding as is covered by section 1094.5.
Code of Civil Procedure section 1094.5, subdivision (a), applies to actions commenced "for the purpose of inquiring into the validity of any final administrative order or decision made as the result of a proceeding in which
It follows that Bray was not entitled to a jury trial in the superior court.
The contention depends for its validity upon the correctness of Bray's argument, that in the termination of his employment he was deprived of a "fundamental vested right." No authority is offered that his right to continued employment until the expiration of his three-year term was such a fundamental right.
There is high authority holding that union proceedings in which an officer is expelled for an indefinite period need only be supported by "some evidence." (Boilermakers v. Hardeman (1971) 401 U.S. 233, 245-246 [28 L.Ed.2d 10, 21, 91 S.Ct. 609].)
California's high court holds that judicial determinations whether an asserted claim is of a "fundamental vested right" must be made on a "case-by-case" analysis. (Merrill v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1969) 71 Cal.2d 907, 915 [80 Cal.Rptr. 89, 458 P.2d 33].)
It is noted that Bray had not been expelled as a member of Local 164, and thereby deprived of earning a living at his trade. Nor was he precluded from running again for financial secretary or other union office.
We opine that it may not reasonably be said that, on the facts and circumstances of his case, Bray's claimed rights are fundamental and vested.
We discern but one "other claim" concerning which Bray complains: "The court refused to decide whether or not defendants terminated Mr. Bray because he pursued a wage claim through his attorney and via a lawsuit."
The trial court did decide, and find, that defendants had lawfully terminated Bray upon substantial evidence.
We have considered and resolved Bray's five appellate points. (See rule 15(a), Cal. Rules of Court.) Throughout his appellate briefs he makes other complaints, not charged as reversible error. We find no merit in any of such complaints.
The judgment is affirmed.
Racanelli, P.J., and Newsom, J., concurred.