Pete Savage, Mike Wallace, and Cliff Puckett won a major victory in federal court on Tuesday, April 1st. Judge Marco Hernandez ruled that the Pacific NW Regional Council of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters violated their right to free speech in a union election when it disciplined them for holding a phone bank in November 2011.

The Judge went on to rule that there is still an open question as to whether Doug Tweedy or other Regional Counsel leaders orchestrated the discipline specifically to stifle opposition. That question is scheduled to go to trial in Portland, Oregon on June 17th. The outcome of the trial will not affect Savage, Wallace, and Puckett’s win on the main issue: that the discipline was illegal.

The judge dismissed a side issue that Savage, Wallace, and Puckett had added to their case: whether the rule against “causing dissention” in the UBC Constitution overly limits free speech. The judge was not interested in examining the UBC Constitution in that way. He preferred to focus the case on the illegality of the discipline that was actually imposed. Savage, Wallace, and Puckett are considering appeal on this.

The case is titled Savage et al v. Tweedy et al, number 3:12-cv-01317-HZ in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon. Savage, Wallace, and Puckett say that they brought the case to protect every union member’s right to campaign without fear of being punished. They never expected such a long struggle, but they are very happy with the outcome.

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