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SANSOM HOUSE ENTERPRISES v. WAITERS & WAITRESSES UNION (06/27/55)

June 27, 1955

SANSOM HOUSE ENTERPRISES, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
WAITERS & WAITRESSES UNION, LOCAL 301, AFL.



Appeal, No. 139, Jan. T., 1955, from decree of Court of Common Pleas No. 1 of Philadelphia County, Sept. T., 1953, No. 7852, in case of Sansom House Enterprises, Inc. et al, v. Waiters & Waitresses Union, Local 301, AFL et al. Decree reversed; Reargument refused July 26, 1955.

COUNSEL

I. Herbert Rothenberg, with him Lemisch & Ginsburg, for appellants.

Richard H. Markowitz, with him Louis H. Wilderman, for appellees.

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

Author: Stern

[ 382 Pa. Page 478]

OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HORACE STERN

The question is whether the court below erred in refusing to enjoin the picketing of plaintiff's establishment by a labor union.

Plaintiff is a corporation which conducts several restaurants, one of which is located at 1302-04 Sansom Street, extending through to 1305-07 Walnut Street, in the City of Philadelphia. It employs some 90 persons. The Waiters & Waitresses Union, Local 301 A.F.L., commenced a campaign to organize plaintiff's employes and become their collective bargaining agent. Plaintiff allegedly tried to interfere with the rights of the employes to effect such organization and also discharged an employe, one Mary Greenwood, because, as the Union claimed, of her activities in its campaign. The Union filed charges with the State Labor Relations Board in regard to both those matters. Turchi, visited the restaurant and there engaged in an Trurchi, visited the restaurant and there engaged in an altercation with plaintiff's secretary and treasurer, Jacob Blum. Blum's version of the conversation was that Turchi said that Blum would be glad to put plaintiff's employees in the Union when he got through with him, that even if it took him 10 to 20 years he would picket and ruin plaintiff's restaurant, and that, when he got through, there would not be any Sansom House. Turchi denied this in part and claimed that Blum ordered him out and refused to discuss with him the question of reinstating Mrs. Greenwood. Be that as it may, the fact is that a whistle was then blown and the employees were called out on strike; some 13 of them responded and left the premises. The picketing by the Union thereupon began and has continued ever since, a period of over three years.

[ 382 Pa. Page 479]

Acting on the complaint filed by the Union, the State Labor Relations Board entered a decree ordering plaintiff to cease and desist from interfering with its employees in the exercise of their rights to self-organization and collective bargaining, and from discriminating against its employes in regard to tenure of employment because of their union membership and activities. It ordered plaintiff to reinstate Mrs. Greenwood with back pay, and also to reinstate the employes who had gone out on strike. Plaintiff appealed from this order to the Court of Common Pleas and meanwhile, on October 13, 1952, offered unconditionally to reinstate Mrs. Greenwood, but the offer was not accepted either by her or the Union; none of the employes on strike requested reinstatement although plaintiff was willing at all times to comply with the order of the Board in that respect. The Court of Common Pleas found that Mrs. Greenwood had not been discharged because of her union activities and therefore reversed the order of the Board as to her case; this decision was affirmed on appeal to this Court (Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board v. Sansom House Enterprises, Inc., 378 Pa. 385, 106 A.2d 404). As to the Board's order to cease and desist from interfering with the rights of the employees to self-organization and collective bargaining, plaintiff, on October 8, 1953, filed with the Board an affidavit of compliance and duly posted the order of the Board as modified by the decision of the court. Nevertheless the picketing went on as before.

The present action in equity to enjoin the picketing was brought on December 2, 1953, by plaintiff, together with 70 of its employes, against the Union and its officers. Hearing having been had, the court concluded that plaintiff was not entitled to equitable relief against the defendants and dismissed the bill. Plaintiff appeals from that decision.

[ 382 Pa. Page 480]

There is no question but that, where picketing is for an unlawful purpose, it is no longer protected as an exercise of the right of free speech and may properly be enjoined: Wilbank v. Chester and Delaware Counties Bartenders, hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, 360 Pa. 48, 60 A.2d 21; Phillips v. United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, 362 Pa. 78, 66 A.2d 227; Wortex Mills, Inc. v. Textile Workers Union of America, C.I.O., 369 Pa. 359, 85 A.2d 851; Baderak v. Building and Construction Trades ...


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