Suspended Bath Iron Works union officers, barred from running in elections, may go to court
BATH — At least two suspended officers of Bath Iron Works' largest union have been barred by the parent union from running in future elections, their attorney said Monday.
He also suggested his clients may sue to overturn the ban.
Mike Keenan, suspended president of Local S6, has been barred for four years, while Chief Steward Mike Cyr is barred for two years, according to attorney Leon Rosenblatt. Rosenblatt said he assumed, but did not know for sure, that suspended Vice President Troy Osgood would be barred as well, while trustee Cathy London has been exonerated.
Those four suspended officers were among union members removed from the union hall in March 2008 pending a preliminary investigation by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers into allegations of mismanagement. IAM at that point imposed a trustee on the local. A letter from IAM International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger charged the local leadership with financial improprieties and complaints of pornography being viewed on union computers.
Rosenblatt said he had expected IAM to bar the officers.
"It's totally predictable when you have a tribunal where the IAM brings the charges, the IAM names the judges, the IAM runs the hearing in its entirety, the IAM plans the scheduling and the IAM's lawyers write the decision," he said.
Last May the four officers sued the IAM, claiming the parent union deliberately took actions to suppress dissent at Local S6. A federal judge dismissed the case last month. Rosenblatt said the judge had limited discretion on the matter since the trusteeship had not been in place long enough, Rosenblatt said.
The attorney previously said his clients planned to bring claims of emotional distress and defamation in state court. But with news of his clients being barred from running in future elections, Rosenblatt on Monday said he now has grounds to take the case back to federal court.
Keenan has said he did nothing wrong and is being punished for disagreeing with IAM leadership. He said on Monday that he expected to be barred, adding that "the only thing that shocks me is they didn't find a loophole to bar me for life; I'm sure they'd love to. They certainly have fear of me getting back in there and wiping them all out. I wouldn't say it's not justifiable fear."
He further explained that he thought anyone could be beaten in an election, including IAM staff. "I just think no one's ever found a way to do it," Keenan said. "I believe that there is a way, and there's a movement against the International."
Rosenblatt also spoke of such a movement.
"All of this, everything, is about the right of members to control their futures," he said. "And the reason why this happened in the first place is the members decided they did not want to contribute money to the electoral (political action committee) that the (Machinists Non-Partisan Political League) runs, and that's why (the trusteeship) was imposed. ... So when you take the members' elected representatives, and you replace them with the bureaucrats' selected representatives, you need a revolution, and that's what I hope happens. I hope they organize themselves, and they rise up, and they throw out the IAM bureaucrats."
John Carr, a spokesman for the IAM, could not be reached for comment.
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.