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GARNER v. TEAMSTERS (02/13/53)

February 13, 1953


Appeal, No. 26, May T., 1952, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, in Equity, No. 1884, in case of Joseph Garner and A. Joseph Garner, trading as Central Storage & Transfer Co. v. Teamsters, Chauffeurs & Helpers, Local Union No. 776 (A.F.L.) et al. Decree reversed; reargument refused March 24, 1953.


Sidney G. Handler, with him Edward Davis and Douglass, Handler, Rosenberg & Ware, for appellants.

James H. Booser, with him David S. Kohn and McNees, Wallace & Nurick, for appellees.

M. Herbert Syme submitted a brief for Pennsylvania Federation of Labor, amicus curiae.

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

Author: Stern

[ 373 Pa. Page 20]


Plaintiffs, Joseph Garner and A. Joseph Garner, trading as Central Storage and Transfer Company, are engaged in the trucking and storage business in Harrisburg. Their principal office there was at 11th and State Streets, but they maintained terminal and platform facilities at the rear of the Reading Railroad Freight Station at 9th and Market Streets, where they operated a local freight pick-up and delivery service for the Reading Railroad Company and its trucking division, the Reading Transportation Company, (with both of which it had contracts), as well as with some fifteen other trucking firms. Some of the freight handled by them is shipped on the Reading Railroad from points outside the State to consignees in Harrisburg. They employ 24 persons as truckers, helpers and platform men; only 4 of these are members of Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers, Local Union No. 776 (A.F.L.), an unincorporated labor organization the members of which are engaged as truck drivers and helpers in the same industry in which plaintiffs are also engaged. Plaintiffs have never objected, and do not presently object, to any of their employes joining the Union.

On June 7, 1949, rotating pickets, two at a time, none of whom was an employe of plaintiffs, were placed by the Union, one in front of, and the other at

[ 373 Pa. Page 21]

    the entrance to, plaintiffs' Reading loading platform; they carried signs bearing the following legend: "Local 776 Teamsters Union (A.F. of L.) wants Employees of Central Storage and Transfer Co. to join them to gain union wages, hours and working conditions." This picketing was conducted at all times in an orderly and peaceful manner. Neither then nor at any other time has there been any controversy or labor dispute between plaintiffs and their employes, none of whom was on strike. While the picketing continued union truck drivers and helpers employed by the Reading Transportation Company and other interchange carriers refused to cross the picket line; as the bulk of plaintiffs' operations was with unionized trucking concerns the consequence was that their local business fell off 95%, causing a loss to them of between $400 and $500 per day, in addition to which they stood to have their contract with the Reading Transportation Company cancelled and their terminal facilities with the Reading Railroad Company vacated.

Plaintiffs, on June 9, 1949, brought a bill in equity against the Union to enjoin the picketing, and, on June 17, 1949, the court, after hearing testimony offered by both parties, decreed that a preliminary injunction should issue as prayed for. Subsequently additional testimony was taken on final hearing, and, on September 4, 1951, the court entered a decree nisi enjoining and restraining defendants from picketing plaintiffs' Reading pick-up and delivery terminal; exceptions filed by defendant were dismissed, and a final decree was entered on March 3, 1952 in accordance with the decree nisi. From that final decree defendants now appeal.

It is defendants' contention that the picketing carried on by them was solely for organizational purposes, that is, to persuade plaintiffs' non-union employes

[ 373 Pa. Page 22]

    to join the Union. If such was indeed the fact the picketing was constitutionally protected and should not have been enjoined (Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp. v. United Steelworkers of America, 353 Pa. 420, 430 431, 45 A.2d 857, 861). But if, on the other hand, the primary or paramount object was to coerce plaintiffs, the employers, to commit a violation of section 6(c) of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act of June 1, 1937, P.L. 1168 (which provides that "It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer... (c) By discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment, or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization;") such picketing would have been, by the law of the State, for an unlawful purpose and, if the State court had jurisdiction in spite of the fact that plaintiffs were largely engaged in interstate commerce, it was proper to enjoin it: Wilbank v. Chester & Delaware Counties Bartenders, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, 360 Pa. 48, 60 A.2d 21 (cert. den. 336 U.S. 945); Phillips v. United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 362 Pa. 78, 66 A.2d 227; Carpenters & Joiners Union of America, Local No. 213, v. Ritter's Cafe, 315 U.S. 722; Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490; Hughes v. Superior Court of California for Contra Costa County, 339 U.S. 460; International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union, Local 309, v. Hanke, 339 U.S. 470; Building Employees International Union, Local 262, v. Gazzam, 339 U.S. 532.

Consideration cannot be given here to the merits of the controversy if the State courts lack jurisdiction in view of the fact that the Labor Management Relations Act -- the so-called Taft-Hartley Act -- of 1947, c 120, 61 Stat. 136, 29 U.S.C.A. (Pocket Part) ...

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