Joseph "Chip" Yablonski

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Joseph Albert "Chip" Yablonski, Jr. (born 1941) is an attorney in Washington, D.C. For much of his career, he was a partner in the firm Yablonski, Both and Edelman; the firm dissolved in 2006, and Yablonski is now a solo practitioner in the Law Offices of Joseph A. Yablonski.

Chip Yablonski was born in 1941 to Joseph "Jock" and Margaret Yablonski. He obtained his bachelor's degree from St. Vincent College. He was awarded a J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1965 (he was managing editor of the law review).

Yablonski clerked for Chief Judge Austin Staley on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Later, he worked as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

Father's murder and union activism[edit]

In the 1960s, Yablonski's father, Jock, made a number of attempts to reform the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). Jock Yablonski ran for the presidency of UMWA in 1969 against W. A. Boyle and lost in an election riven with fraud.

Jock Yablonski sued to overturn the elections with the assistance of labor attorneys Joseph Rauh and Daniel Edelman, and sons Kenneth Yablonski and Chip Yablonski. Jock Yablonski brought five suits alleging that Boyle and UMWA had denied him use of the union's mailing lists as provided for by law, that he had been removed from his position as acting director of Labor's Non-Partisan League in retaliation for his candidacy, that the UMW Journal was being used by Boyle as a campaign and propaganda mouthpiece, that UMWA had no rules for fair elections and printed nearly 51,000 excess ballots which should be destroyed, and that UMWA had violated its fiduciary duties by spending union funds on Boyle's re-election.[1]

Three weeks after the balloting ended, Jock Yablonski, his wife and his 25-year-old daughter Charlotte were murdered by three assassins hired by Boyle and paid for by embezzled union money.

In the aftermath of his family's murders, Chip Yablonski joined with his brother and other miners to form Miners for Democracy, a reform movement within UMWA.

The ensuing outcry over the murders led to the 1969 election being overturned and miner Arnold Miller unseating Boyle in 1972. Miller appointed Chip Yablonski general counsel for UMWA.

In 1975, Chip Yablonski resigned from the Mine Workers union the UMW and, with Daniel Edelman, formed a private practice, Yablonski Both and Edelman.

Continuing legal work[edit]

For nearly 30 years, Chip Yablonski has been outside counsel for the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) as well as other labor groups and union activists.

In 1992, he won a class action lawsuit in which a federal jury awarded $10 million in damages to former National Football League (NFL) reserve players. The jury found that the NFL had unfairly used its monopoly power to keep their salaries low.

In 1988, he represented Jerry Tucker, a militant leader in the United Auto Workers. Yablonski helped Tucker overturn the results of an election which Tucker had lost due to fraud (although Tucker still lost the second election).

Yablonski is also a successful civil trial lawyer. In "Kolstad v. American Dental Association," 527 U.S. 526 (1999), he convinced the Supreme Court of the United States to liberalize the eligibility rules so that additional numbers of plaintiffs may recover punitive damages under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Yablonski is a member of the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Maryland bars, as well as the bars of the U.S. Supreme Court and almost every U.S. Court of Appeal.

He is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers, and sits on the board of directors of the David A. Clarke School of Law Foundation.

Yablonski is also a former board member of the National Bank of Washington, which at one time was owned by the Mine Workers.


Yablonski appears in documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple's film, Harlan County, USA, which won the 1976 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. He is shown holding a press release, saying "The events in Washington, Pennsylvania show that murder is as institutionalized within the UMWA as it is in the mafia. The order to kill, to kill the whole family if necessary, was as routinely transmitted and carried out as an order to call a strike or settle agreements."[2] In a further segment, he is seen speaking to a congregation of coal miners, speaking in favor of Miners for Democracy, and expressing the desire of districts to unite in order "to throw Boyle and his crowd out, for once and for all."[2] He later is interviewed, stating the big amount of people to attend a rally is very gratifying.[2]


  1. ^ These charges and their resolution are outlined in "Kenneth J. Yablonski and Joseph A. Yablonski v. United Mine Workers of America et al.," 466 F.2d 424 (August 3, 1972).
  2. ^ a b c Yablonski, J. (1976). In: B. Kopple (dir.). Harlan County U.S.A..
  • Brown, Warren. "UMW Bank Sale: Poetic Justice." Washington Post. March 6, 1985.
  • Dine, Philip. "UAW's Tucker: Losing Militant is Facing Ouster From Post." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 21, 1989.
  • "The Fall of Tony Boyle." Time. September 17, 1973.
  • Mortensen, Chris. "NFL Owners Better Settle Up or Look Out." The Sporting News. March 23, 1992.

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