Appeal, No. 109, Jan. T., 1952, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 4 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1951, No. 4298, in case of Nicholas Del Buono, Jr., and Michael Del Buono, trading as Mar-Lo Manufacturing Company v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. Decree reversed; reargument refused June 24, 1952.
George L. Reed, Solicitor, with him Robert E. Woodside, Attorney General, and M. Louise Rutherford, Deputy Attorney General, for appellant.
Henry D. O'Connor, with him Joseph W. O'Connor, for appellees.
Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE HORACE STERN
We are not in accord with the conclusion of the court below in this case that there was no legal basis for the findings and the order of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board. Having in mind that "it is the function of the board not only to appraise conflicting evidence, to determine the credibility of witnesses, and to resolve primary issues of fact, but also to draw inferences from the established facts and circumstances", (Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Kaufmann Department Stores, Inc., 345 Pa. 398, 400, 29 A.2d 90, 92), and that, upon judicial review, "the findings of the board as to the facts, if supported by substantial and legally credible evidence, shall... be conclusive", (Act of June 1, 1937, P.L. 1168, section 9(b), as amended by the Act of June 9, 1939, P.L. 293), it is clear that the court was not justified in setting aside the order of the Board.
Mar-Lo Manufacturing Company, a copartnership composed of Nicholas Del Buono, Jr. and Michael Del Buono, and engaged in the manufacture of chrome and
wooden furniture, employed nine production workers together with a foreman. The Furniture, Casket and Allied Workers Union, Local 37, A.F. of L. filed with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board charges against the Company of unfair labor practices, alleging that four of their employes were discharged because they had refused to withdraw their authorization to the Union to represent them, and also that the Company had failed to comply with a request of the Union to negotiate a contract. Thereupon the Board filed a complaint against the Company embodying these charges and alleging coercion of their employes in the exercise of their rights to join a labor organization and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. After the taking elaborate testimony the Board made findings of fact and entered an order directing the Company to cease and desist from interfering with the employes in the exercise of their rights of self-organization and collective bargaining and from discriminating against them because of their membership in the Union and activities in its behalf; ordering the Company to offer three of the discharged employes reinstatement to their former positions (the fourth having already been reemployed) and to pay back wages equal to the amount they would have earned from the date they were discharged to the date of such offer of reinstatement, less the amounts actually earned by them or the losses wilfully incurred by them during said period; and ordering the Company also to bargain collectively with the Union with respect to wages and other conditions of employment.
At the hearings before the Board there was competent testimony to the effect that when an employe named Andreol commenced organizational activities among the employes he was summoned to the office of the Company and promised a raise in wages if he would
not "start anything". However, the nine production employes signed cards accepting membership in the Union and authorizing it to act for them as a collective bargaining agent in all matters pertaining to wages and other conditions of their employment. Upon the Company's receiving a letter from the Union requesting the naming of a time and place for a meeting to negotiate a labor agreement Nicholas Del Buono assembled all the employes and told them that five of them would have to go because he could not pay the Union wages; he asked each of them whether they wanted a union and they all replied in the affirmative. Thereafter one of the employes named Terrinoni, obviously acting by authority and direction of the Company, called the employes to the office, one at a time, and urged them to sign a memorandum stating that they did not wish to be represented by the Union; in at least one instance a raise in wages was held out as an inducement. The next day Nicholas Del Buono spoke to four of the employes, Andreol, Scarlata, Popolo, and Pizzelli, endeavoring to discourage them from joining the Union, and suggesting the possibility of a raise for them in wages. He said they could not go back to work until they came to an agreement, which they understood as meaning that they must renounce the Union's representation of them as their collective bargaining agent; he told them that the majority of the employes had signed the memorandum, that he wanted them also to sign it, and that he would not let them go ...