Appeal, No. 240, Jan. T., 1952, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Sept. T., 1952, in Equity, No. 1, in case of American Brake Shoe Company v. District Lodge 9 of The International Association of Machinists, et al. Decree affirmed.
Donald W. Ebbert, with him Charles C. Hewitt, F. C. Kiebort, Jr., Thorp, Reed & Armstrong and Humes & Kiebort, for appellant.
George J. Barco, with him Yolanda G. Barco and Barco & Barco, for appellees.
Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Chidsey and Musmanno, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE CHIDSEY
This is an appeal from the decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County which dissolved a temporary restraining order. The appellant owns and operates several plants in various states, including a plant near Meadville, Pennsylvania, and it is there that the factual background for this case arose.
In March, 1952 appellees, District Lodge 9 of the International Association of Machinists, which represented the machinists employed at the St. Louis, Missouri plant of the American Brake Shoe Company, went on strike against appellant after the expiration of a prior collective bargaining agreement. On April 15, 1952, four pickets, all of whom were members of the appellee union at the Missouri plant, began picketing the plant at Meadville. This picketing resulted in a loss to the appellant of 250,000 pounds of production. The pickets withdrew on April 18, 1952 and reappeared on June 4, 1952. Again there were four or five pickets (the individual defendants in this case). These pickets were under the direction of appellee Frank Runyon, business manager of the appellant union, and were members of District Lodge 9 at the St. Louis plant. The pickets stood on the public highway near the appellant's
plant and carried large umbrellas on which were printed: "American Brake Shoe Company is unfair to District 9". There was no violence and no threats were made. About two-thirds of the machinists employed at the Meadville plant did not report for work, although the other employes continued to work as usual.
After the issuance of a restraining order by the court below on June 5, 1952, the picketing ceased. When the order now appealed from was entered dissolving the injunction, the picketing was resumed and thereafter continued although all of the Meadville employes including the machinists returned to work.
The employes of the Meadville plant of the American Brake Shoe Company are divided into three separate units and are represented by three different labor organizations, one of which is the International Association of Machinists, Local Lodge 1385 of District 83. The appellant has collective bargaining agreements with each of the three labor organizations, all of which agreements were in force at the time of the picketing involved in this case. Each agreement contains a no strike provisions similar to the following (which appears in the contract signed by the International Association of Machinists, Local Lodge 1385 of District 83): "The Union agrees that during the term of this Agreement there shall be no strike, sit-down, slow-down, or any curtailment of production...".
The question presented, simply stated, is whether or not peaceful picketing should be restrained where an employer owns and operates two plants, A (where there is a labor dispute), and B (where there is no labor dispute), and the members of the union at Plant A picket Plant B with the result that some of the employes at Plant B, where a no strike agreement is in force, remain away from work.
It does not appear from the record that the employer is engaged in interstate commerce or that its business affects interstate commerce, and neither party has raised the question of lack of jurisdiction in this Court to decide this matter because of the provisions of the Federal law under the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 136 (1947), 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 141-197. Assuming, however, that interstate commerce is involved, our own examination of the existing law convinces us that the picketing in this case does not constitute an unfair labor practice as defined in amendatory section 8(b) of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, supra, 29 U.S.C.A. § 158, and is not governed by any other provision in that Act. Since the particular union conduct involved here is neither protected nor prohibited by the Federal Act, this case is distinguishable from Garner v. Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers, Local Union No. 776, 373 Pa. 19, 94 A.2d 893, and this Court has jurisdiction.
Appellant contends that the court below erred in dissolving the injunction and relies upon the Act of June 9, 1939, P.L. 302, 43 PS § 206d, which amended Section 4 of the Act of June 2, 1937, P.L. 1198, known as the Labor Anti-Injunction Act. The Labor Anti-Injunction Act as originally enacted prohibited the issuance of injunctions in labor disputes generally. The 1939 amendment, supra, provided that the Act should not apply in any case: "(a) Involving a labor dispute, as defined herein, which is in disregard, breach, or violation of, or which tends to procure the disregard, breach, or violation of, a valid subsisting labor agreement... Provided, however, That the complaining person has not,... committed... an unfair labor practice or violated any of the terms of said agreement.". Appellant's position is that the picketing by the individual appellees, which was brought about by a labor
dispute in St. Louis, "tends to procure the disregard, breach, or violation of, a valid subsisting labor agreement", that is, the agreements entered into at the Meadville plant, and therefore may be enjoined under the 1939 amendment to the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, supra.
Appellees contend that the amendment refers only to the situation where the labor dispute is, in itself, in violation of a labor agreement, and that the labor dispute here involved, which originated in St. Louis, does not violate any agreement, and does not tend to procure the violation of any agreement to which the pickets or their union is a party, since the St. Louis agreement had expired.
In order to determine the merits of the respective contentions of appellant and appellees, it is necessary to examine other pertinent provisions of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act.
Section 3 of the Act, 43 PS § 206c-(c), defines labor dispute as follows: "The term 'labor dispute' includes any controversy concerning terms or conditions of employment, or concerning the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing, or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of employment or concerning employment relations or any other controversy arising out of the respective interests of employer and employe, regardless of whether or not the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employe, and regardless of whether or not the employes are on strike with the employer.".
It is clear that there is a labor dispute within this definition between the appellant and the appellees concerning the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. Whether or not because some of the employes at the Meadville plant remained away from work, there is a labor dispute existing between the appellant and Local
Lodge 1385 or its members presents a different question, but it need not be answered since the injunction did not restrain any of the activities of Local 1385 or its members. The question which now arises is whether or not the peaceful picketing by the St. Louis pickets falls within the language of the amendment as a "... labor dispute... which tends to procure the disregard, breach, or violation of, a valid subsisting labor agreement...".
Appellant relies heavily upon our decision in General Building Contractors' Association v. Local Union No. 542, 370 Pa. 73, 87 A.2d 250, where this Court affirmed the issuance of an injunction against a threatened breach of a labor agreement by a union. However, that case is not controlling in the determination of the present controversy. There we enjoined a threatened breach of a contract by one of the parties to what we found to be an existing contract. The decision in that case in effect awarded specific performance of a labor agreement because of the irreparable damages threatened and imminent. In the instant case the appellees are not parties to any labor contract with the appellant, and the Meadville unions which are parties to contracts with the appellant are not named as parties in this proceeding. The General Building Contractors' case, supra, did not establish the general rule that all acts by any person which may possibly have the result of inducing one of the parties to a labor contract to breach that contract will be enjoined.
If appellant's construction of the effect of the 1939 amendment to the Act of 1937 is correct, any employer, by entering into separate agreements with different groups of his employes, and by staggering the termination dates of the labor agreements, could effectively insulate himself from peaceful ...