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HAEFELE v. DAVIS (02/13/53)

February 13, 1953

HAEFELE
v.
DAVIS, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 239, Jan. T., 1952, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Oct. T., 1949, in Equity, No. 17, in case of Martin F. Haefele, Edgar Hares and Clarence Lord v. Thomas Davis, et al. Decree affirmed; reargument refused March 24, 1953.

COUNSEL

Sidney G. Handler, with him Nelson A. Bryan, Frank P. Lenahan, Elliott Bredhoff, Thomas Harris and Douglass, Handler, Rosenberg & Ware, for appellants.

Max Rosenn, with him Harold Rosenn and Rosenn & Rosenn, for appellees.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.

Author: Chidsey

[ 373 Pa. Page 36]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY

This is an appeal from the final decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County which restrained the appellants from interfering with appellees' seniority and employment rights and directed appellants to pay damages to appellees.

This controversy was previously before this Court in Haefele v. Davis, 368 Pa. 23, 81 A.2d 530. Although the factual background for this case was set out in the report of the prior appeal, it would be well to restate

[ 373 Pa. Page 37]

    it here. The three plaintiffs have been regularly employed by the Vulcan Iron Works for various periods from 30 to 43 years. All are machinists and were members of the defendant union. On January 1, 1943, defendant union and the Vulcan Iron Works entered into a collective bargaining agreement. This agreement continued a seniority system followed by Vulcan Iron Works and provided: "Seniority shall cease upon (a) justifiable discharge; (b) voluntary quitting; (c) if the employee does not return to work within five (5) days after written notice at address appearing on the Company's records. The company shall notify the Union at the same time the employee is notified to return to work.". On October 17, 1945, another collective bargaining agreement was entered into between the same parties and it repeated verbatim the provision for cessation of seniority as it appeared in the 1943 agreement. While this provision concerning seniority was in force between the company and the union, each of the three plaintiffs was upgraded to the position of foreman by the employer. Since the collective bargaining agreement excepted foremen, the plaintiffs became ineligible for membership in the union.

On June 15, 1949, because of a recession in business, the services of the three plaintiffs were no longer required in a supervisory capacity. Upon objection by the union, the plaintiffs were not permitted to resume their employment as machinists at the Vulcan Iron Works and were discharged by the employer. The union objection was based on the contention that the plaintiffs had lost their seniority rights as a result of their advancement to the position of foreman. Plaintiffs then filed this bill in equity whereby they prayed that the defendant union and the individual defendants be restrained from interfering with plaintiffs' employment and seniority rights at the Vulcan Iron Works,

[ 373 Pa. Page 38]

    and also requested damages for the time lost as a result of the union's action. Plaintiffs do not claim that they acquired additional seniority ...


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