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Trbovich v. United Mine Workers, 404 U.S. 528 (1972)

Trbovich v. United Mine Workers

No. 71-119

Argued November 18, 1971

Decided January 17, 1972

404 U.S. 528


Petitioner union member sought unsuccessfully to intervene pursuant to Fed.Rule Civ.Proc. 24(a) in litigation brought by the Secretary of Labor under Title IV of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act to set aside an election of union officers for violations of the Act. Petitioner, who initiated the entire enforcement proceeding with his complaint to the Secretary, sought to present evidence and argument in support of the Secretary's election challenge, and to urge additional grounds for setting the election aside.


1. There is nothing in the language of Title IV of the Act or its legislative history to bar intervention by a union member in a post-election enforcement suit, so long as that intervention is limited to claims of illegality presented by the Secretary's complaint. Pp. 404 U. S. 530-537.

2. Intervention under Rule 24(a) is warranted for this petitioner, as he may have a valid complaint about the performance of the Secretary, who protects not only the rights of individual union members, but also the public interest in free and democratic union elections, two functions that may not always dictate the same approach to the conduct of the litigation. Pp. 404 U. S. 537-539.

Reversed and case remanded to the District Court with directions to allow limited intervention.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J, filed an opinion dissenting in part, post, p. 404 U. S. 539. POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 404 U. S. 529

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