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May 26, 1958


Appeals, Nos. 297 and 298, Jan. T., 1957, from order of Court of Common Pleas No. 3 of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1952, No. 669, in case of Elizabeth MacDonald v. Benjamin Feldman et al. Order affirmed.


Joseph B. Meranze, with him Meranze & Katz, for appellants.

A. Samuel Buchman, for appellee.

Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Jones and Cohen, JJ.

[ 393 Pa. Page 275]


The order discharging the rule granted on the defendants' petition for the dismissal of the plaintiff's complaint is affirmed on the following excerpts from the opinion of Judge WATERS for the court below.

"The plaintiff commenced this trespass action against the defendant union and its business agent to recover damages for an alleged improper interference with her employment. The complaint set forth that she was employed as a sample blouse machine operator by Charles Cardonick in August, 1950 for 'permanent employment all year around' at a net weekly salary of $60.95; that such employment contract was known to defendants and that defendants wrongfully and maliciously threatened to call a strike unless plaintiff was discharged from employment. Plaintiff averred that by reason of these threats she was discharged from her employment on Easter Monday of 1951; that, thereafter, whenever she sought employment in other blouse shops, defendants prevented her from obtaining such employment by threats of strike or other methods of retaliation against her prospective employers. Plaintiff averred that the defendant union did not have a union security agreement with her employer, Cardonick.

[ 393 Pa. Page 276]

Plaintiff seeks damages and punitive damages for the defendants' wrongful conduct in inducing her discharge and for causing termination of her employment contract.

"The defendants filed a responsive answer to the complaint joining factual issue by way of denial of the averments therein. The defendants in their petition seeking dismissal of the complaint alleged that the employers referred to in the complaint are all engaged in the manufacturing business and buy and sell commodities and are engaged in interstate commerce within the meaning of The Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, Title 29, U.S.C.A.; that the actions of which plaintiff complains are unfair labor practices within the meaning of Sections 8(b)(1) and 8(b)(2) of said act; that the plaintiff filed unfair labor practice charges against her employer in March, 1952, with the National Labor Relations Board and that said charges were based on the facts alleged in the complaint; that the Board acccepted jurisdiction and dismissed the charges for want of evidence. The defendants aver that 'the National Labor Relations Board under said Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 has exclusive jurisdiction to hear, act upon, and determine the disposition of unfair labor practice charges involving employers and unions engaged in Inter-State Commerce and provides for a remedy ... of reinstatement and back pay;' that the court is without jurisdiction over the subject matter of these proceedings.

"The plaintiff in her answer to the defendants' petition denied that defendant union had a security contract with her employer or prospective employers and averred that the Labor Management Relations Act applied only where union contracts containing such security clauses are in effect. The plaintiff admitted filing charges as alleged but averred that she was not accorded a hearing before the Board or given an opportunity

[ 393 Pa. Page 277]

    to present evidence and testimony; that the Board's decision was made on the basis of an investigation conducted by a Board representative without giving plaintiff an opportunity to cross-examine the persons interviewed whose statements were not made under oath or before any tribunal. No depositions were taken and the factual averments set forth in the answer to the petition must be taken as true.

"The right to engage in remunerative employment is a valuable right and an improper interference with it is answerable in a common law action in trespass. In Mische v. Kaminski, 127 Pa. Superior Ct. 66 (1937) it was held that the right to work is entitled to protection in equity; that the defendants in that case did not have the right to interfere with plaintiffs' existing employment or to combine to prevent plaintiffs from obtaining other employment. The right of an individual to work for whom he pleases and at the wages he pleases was recognized and affirmed in Jefferson and Indiana Coal Co. v. Marks, 287 ...

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