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WILKES SPORTSWEAR v. INTERNATIONAL LADIES' GARMENT WORKERS' UNION (01/03/55)

January 3, 1955

WILKES SPORTSWEAR, INC.
v.
INTERNATIONAL LADIES' GARMENT WORKERS' UNION, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 182, Jan. T., 1953, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, July T., 1949, in Equity, No. 11, in case of Wilkes Sportswear, Inc. and Laura Tippett et al., v. International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union et al., etc. Record remanded.

COUNSEL

Sidney G. Handler, with him D. J. Flood, James L. Brown, Morris P. Glushiem, New York, Flood & Brown, and Douglass, Handler, Rosenberg & Ware, for Appellants.

Max Rosenn, with him Rosenn, Jenkins, Greenwald & Cardoni, and Frank Slattery, Jr., for appellees.

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

Author: Stern

[ 380 Pa. Page 165]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

In this case an injunction was issued restraining defendants from picketing plaintiff's premises and from interfering with its employes in the course of their work. The questions now presented are whether the issuance of the injunction was justified, and whether, even if it were, the injunction should now be dissolved because of the lapse of more than five years since it was issued and the picketing ceased.

[ 380 Pa. Page 166]

The proceedings had somewhat of a checkered career in the court below. Judge LEWIS, after holding two hearings, issued a preliminary injunction on June 17, 1949. The application for final injunction was heard by Judge FLANNERY, who, after likewise holding two hearings (at which, however, no testimony was taken regarding the nature or extent of the picketing), entered a decree nisi on December 26, 1951, dissolving the preliminary injunction and dismissing the bill of complaint. On exceptions to this decree filed by palintiff, the majority of the court en banc, Judge FLANNERY dissenting, sustained the exceptions and on December 16, 1952, entered a final decree in the identical terms of the preliminary injunction issued by Judge LEWIS.

Did the facts warrant the issuance of the injunction? Judge LEWIS found as facts that at the time the picketing began five of plaintiff's employes were members of the defendant union but in the interim had discontinued their employment, leaving 52 employes none of whom was a union member; that there was no strike and apparently no differences of any kind between plaintiff and its employes; that the pickets were disorderly and prevented both customers and employes from entering and leaving plaintiff's plant; that when the picketing began on March 30, 1949, some 16 to 30 pickets appeared carrying signs inscribed "On Strike, International Ladies" Garment Workers Union" but subsequently changed to read: "Wilkes Sportswear does not employ union help. Signed, International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union"; that from March 30 until the date of the final hearing on June 1 the picketing continued, and on April 20 there were between 50 and 100 pickets in front of the premises; that on the latter date some of the employes were assaulted and their clothes torn in an attempt to prevent them

[ 380 Pa. Page 167]

    from entering the premises; that during the period from March 30 to May 16 several of the pickets used lewd and profane language, and on several occasions it was necessary to call the local police to insure safe entrance and exit to both employes and management; that the picketing reached another climax on May 9 when 20 or 30 pickets appeared and used obscene and profane language in addressing the employes; that at the hearing on June 1 it developed that, although defendants were then maintaining but one picket carrying a sign, other pickets loitered about the premises and interfered with plaintiff's employes and customers and persisted in hurling vile and vulgar language at anyone who attempted to enter the building. In accepting these findings of Judge LEWIS the court en banc pointed out that he alone had heard the testimony as to the nature of the picketing, Judge FLANNERY having merely read that testimony as it appeared in the record.

Both parties to this controversy agree that plaintiff's business involved interstate operations (cf. National Labor Relations Board v. Fainblatt, 306 U.S. 601), which makes it unnecessary to discuss the facts justifying such mutual understanding. To the extent, therefore, that plaintiff claimed defendants were attempting to coerce its employes into joining the union or to coerce plaintiff into compelling or influencing its employes to join the union, plaintiff would be obliged to present its grievance to the National Labor Relations Board and not to the courts of the State: Garner v. Teamsters, Chauffeurs and Helpers Local Union No. 773 (A.F.L.), 346 U.S. 485. But in view of the court's findings in regard to the ...


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