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November 15, 1954


Appeals, Nos. 108, 140 and 141, Jan. T., 1954, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 5 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1950, No. 6392, in case of Wortex Mills, Inc. v. Textile Workers Union of America, C.I.O. et al. Decree modified and affirmed; reargument refused December 31, 1954. Bill in equity. Before SMITH, P.J. Adjudication filed awarding plaintiff injunctive relief and money damages; exceptions to adjudication dismissed and final decree entered. Defendants appealed.


Jerome L. Markovitz, with him David E. Feller and Arthur J. Goldberg, for defendants, appellants.

Maurice M. Green, with him Albert K. Plone, for defendants, appellants.

Paul Brandies, for plaintiff, appellee.

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

Author: Bell

[ 380 Pa. Page 5]


Plaintiff corporation brought a bill in equity against two unincorporated labor unions and the president, executive vice-president and secretary-treasurer of the national union and the president, two vice-presidents, secretary and manager of the local union, to enjoin mass picketing by defendants, and by persons acting on their behalf, and for further general relief.

The Chancellor made, inter alia, the following findings of fact:

Plaintiff made yarn into finished cloth and was engaged in a seasonal business. The employees at its plant or business did not belong to any union. No controversy, labor dispute or strike was in progress. Defendants admit that a few days prior to February 19, 1951 the national union, one of the defendants, called a strike in the entire textile industry throughout the nation. In an effort to induce the employees of the plaintiff to become members of the defendant unions and to force the plaintiff to conduct a closed shop, a picket line was thrown about plaintiff's plant commencing February 19, 1951.

On some days there was a double line of 150 pickets congregated at the 4 foot wide entrance door to plaintiff's building, although later on this was reduced to 25 pickets and subsequently to 10 pickets. Many of the employees were afraid to work as a result of threats and intimidations by the defendants. During the first week of the picketing, the production and output of plaintiff's plant was reduced by 90%, and the second week by 85%. The defendants also interfered with delivery of raw materials to plaintiff which were to be used, in part at least, for the manufacture of cloth for the Army and Navy.

The Chancellor (1) found that the mass picketing which was accompanied by threats and intimidation

[ 380 Pa. Page 6]

    was illegal, and (2) issued an injunction, and (3) awarded damages of $66,254.34 against the defendants, composed of $10,166.37 payroll expenses, $41,723.07 losses due to cancellation of contracts, and $14,364.90 losses due to forced sales.*fn1

Several important questions are raised by these appeals: (1) Has a State Court jurisdiction to restrain mass picketing which is employed in an effort to organize or promote a union; (2) if a State Court has jurisdiction, can a Court of Equity award damages; (3) did the Chancellor accurately determine the damages; and (4) were the officers of defendant associations individually liable?

Defendants contend, first, that the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 136, et seq., 29 U.S.C.A. ยง 141, et seq., has given the National Labor Relations Board exclusive jurisdiction over labor disputes and thereby excluded state jurisdiction whenever a labor dispute or unfair labor practice is involved; and, secondly, (a) that the picketing or strike was for a lawful purpose, namely, for the purpose of organizing a union, and (b) that any damages resulting to the employer therefrom is damnum absque injuria.

Plaintiff contends on the other hand (1) that a State Court still has jurisdiction to restrain unlawful picketing; (2) that its jurisdiction has not been ousted where damages are sought for tortious acts; and (3) that a union is liable in damages for illegal acts, even when those illegal acts are part of an attempt to organize a union, since the right to organize gives only a right to organize and picket peacefully for a lawful purpose, and in a lawful manner.

[ 380 Pa. Page 7]

The first question that arises is: Has a Court of Equity jurisdiction to enjoin mass picketing which is employed in an effort to organize a union? The answer is undoubtedly "yes". The Supreme Court of the United States and this Court have repeatedly reiterated that mass picketing is illegal and that State Courts have power to restrain such picketing: United Construction Workers v. Laburnum Construction Corp., No. 188, October Term, 1953, decided June 7, 1954 (United States Supreme Court); Allen-Bradley Local v. Wisconsin E. R. Board, 315 U.S. 740, 749; Milk Wagon Drivers Union v. Meadowmoor Dairies, Inc., 312 U.S. 287; Labor Board v. Fansteel Corp., 306 U.S. 240; Wortex Mills v. Textile Workers U. of A., 369 Pa. 359, 85 A.2d 851; Westinghouse Electric Corp. v. United Electrical, etc., 353 Pa. 446, 46 A.2d 16; Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp. v. U.S.W. of A., 353 Pa. 420, 45 A.2d 857.

In United Construction Workers et al. v. Laburnum Construction Corp. (U.S.), supra, the Court said (p. 664): "... 'Nor is this a case of mass picketing, threatening of employees, obstructing streets and highways, or picketing homes. We have held that the state still may exercise "its historic powers over such traditionally local matters as public safety and order and the use of streets and highways." Allen-Bradley Local v. Wisconsin Board, 315 U.S. 740, 749.' 346 U.S., at 488."

In Wortex Mills v. Textile Workers of U. of A., 369 Pa., supra, the Court said (pp. 364, 369): "... It is well to recall that a State or other Sovereign has a paramount right and an inescapable duty to maintain law and order, to protect life, liberty and property and to enact laws and police regulations for the protection and preservation of ...

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