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WARREN v. MOTION PICTURE MACHINE OPERATORS. (11/28/55)

November 28, 1955

WARREN, APPELLANT,
v.
MOTION PICTURE MACHINE OPERATORS.



Appeal, No. 207, March T., 1955, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, Sept. T., 1955, No. 3, in Equity, in case of John Warren et al. v. Motion Picture Machine Operators New Castle Local No. 451 et al. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

John A. Robb, with him Gilbert Levine and Van Der Voort, Royston, Robb & Leonard, for appellants.

Alvah M. Shumaker, for appellees.

Before Stearne, Jones, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Musmanno

[ 383 Pa. Page 313]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO

The Skyline Drive-In Theatre, the plaintiff in this case, is a Pennsylvania corporation which owns and operates an outdoor motion picture theatre several miles west of New Castle. George Warren is the president of the corporation, all of the stock of which is owned by him and kinsmen. In 1948 the plaintiff corporation entered into a contract with New Castle Local No. 451 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators for the employment of two Union motion picture projectionists, which written contract was renewed in 1949 and 1950. In 1951 when the Union submitted the same agreement for signature, George Warren stated that a written contract was unnecessary, specifying: "There is no argument about it, we will cooperate again. This year is going to be the same as last year was." In 1952, the same contract was re-tendered and George Warren reiterated: "Well, we get along without a contract, everything is abided by. We have been going on for years, no arguments, everybody is paid so why should we bother with a contract." This identical arrangement continued through the years 1953 and 1954. By 1955 the understanding between the Corporation and the Union had become so crystallized in fact that the Union did not even find it necessary to submit a written contract. The theatre management, in the same spirit of understanding and mutual responsibility, called upon Andrew Kovach, Union projectionist, to make preparation for the opening of the 1955 season

[ 383 Pa. Page 314]

(annually the season ran from Aprill to November, depending on weather conditions.)

On June 13, 1955, Donald Warren, owner of three shares of stock of the theatre corporation, and a licensed projectionist but not a member of the Union, took over the post of one of the Union projectionists, who was then discharged. The following day the Union voted to picket the plaintiff's establishment because it was employing non-union labor. The plaintiff corporation filed a complaint against the Union, its officers and members for damages and injunctive relief against the picketing. The Court of Common Pleas of Lawrence County denied the applied-for relief on the ground that since there existed a valid and enforceable labor contract between between the Corporation and the Union, a contract which the plaintiff had breached, a bona fide controversy and labor dispute had arisen which, under Section 6 of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act of 1937, P.L. 1198, 43 P.S. 206a, et seq., was not enjoinable.

The appellant theatre corporation asks for a reversal here, contending (1) that there was no valid contract between the parties, (2) that the Corporation was a formily corporation, (3) that there was no labor dispute in the contemplation of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, and (4) that the picketing of its premises was unlawful.

After an extended hearing the Chancellor found that the facts supported a contract between the parties. A study of the record convinces us that the finding was justified.*fn* Where the Statute of Frauds is not involved, an oral agreement to continue the terms in a written contract is as ...


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