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November 28, 1955


Appeal, No. 99, Jan. T., 1956, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Sept. T., 1955, No. 753, in case of Westinghouse Electric Corporation v. United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 107 et al. Order reversed.


P. H. Strubing, with him Francis E. Shields, J. H. Ward Hinkson and Pepper, Bodine, Frick, Scheetz & Hamilton, for appellant.

David Cohen, David Scribner and Charles J. Hepburn, Jr., for appellees.

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

Author: Stearne

[ 383 Pa. Page 298]


The question presented by this appeal is whether or not, in a labor dispute, mass picketing is legal unless accompanied by acts of violence, coercion or intimidation. The court below dissolved a preliminary injunction which enjoined defendants (appellees):

"(a) from preventing or attempting to prevent by mass or chain picketing, violence, intimidation or coercion, any person or persons from freely entering or leaving plaintiff's premises known as its Lester Plant, at Lester, Pennsylvania;

"(b) from having in front of or in close proximity to any entrance of plaintiff's premises at Lester, Pennsylvania, more than three pickets at any one time, such

[ 383 Pa. Page 299]

    pickets to be in motion at all times and spaced not less than 10 feet apart in a single line and to conduct themselves in such manner as not to block or interfere in any way with the use of such entrances by any person or persons desiring to enter or leave said premises on foot or by vehicle;

"(c) from hindering or obstructing in any manner ingress to or egress from plaintiff's premises by plaintiff's officers, agents, employees, representatives and others having business with plaintiff;

"(d) from seizing or holding the said premises in any manner not set forth above;

"(e) from congregating in large number near to or about said premises or the entrances thereof at any time."

The evidence establishing the existence of mass picketing, and that appellees prevented free access to appellant's plant, is uncontradicted. The reason assigned by the learned chancellor for dissolving the injunction is that appellant failed to prove "... that [the] Union attempted forcibly to deny access to this plant."

We have read the uncontradicted testimony with care. Following the strike gate No. 1 furnished the sole means of ingress and egress. On October 17, 18 and 19, 1955, the number of pickets varied from six to ten at 6:30 a.m. to three hundred to four hundred at 8:15 a.m.; the pickets stood in a shoulder to shoulder formation, many rows deep in front of the entrance, completely obstructing and blocking the entrance. The chancellor ruled that "... There was no testimony indicating a testing of the situation ... [no evidence of] a sincere attempt to enter ...". Such ruling was obviously that there could be no seizure or holding of property within the amendment to the Labor Anti-Injunction Act unless there was proved a sincere attempt to enter the plant, which was prevented by mass picketing.

[ 383 Pa. Page 300]

The court was of opinion that to establish that mass picketing was intended to be an effective obstructing or blocking of passage into and from the plant, a test should have been made by an attempt to pass through such mass picket line. Such ruling was obviously in error and must be reversed.

This Court has decided in several cases that prevention of free access to and from an employer's property by mass picketing, even without actual or threatened force or violence, constitutes an illegal seizure prohibited by the Labor Anti-Injunction Act of June 2, 1937, P.L. 1198, amended by the Act of June 9, 1939, P.L. 302, 43 PS 206a and 206d. In Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp. v. United Steelworkers of America, 353 Pa. 420, 45 A.2d 857, while evidence existed of violence or threats of violence, Chief Justice MAXEY, in the majority opinion, clearly indicated that prevention of access by mass picketing was alone sufficient to require an injunction. In Westinghouse Electric Corporation v. United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (CIO) Local 601, 353 Pa. 446, 46 A.2d 16, where there was no evidence of actual force or violence, an injunction against mass picketing was ordered. Justice STERN, now Chief Justice, stated for the Court (p. 457): "... The right of picketing, when free from coercion, intimidation and violence, is a right constitutionally guaranteed as one of free speech: Senn v. Tile Layers Protective Union, 301 U.S. 468, 478; Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88; American Federation of Labor v. Swing, ...

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