Appeals, Nos. 136 and 137, Jan. T., 1961, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, June T., 1960, No. 21, in equity, in case of Glenn Baker et al. v. Shopmen's Local Union No. 755 et al. of International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers et al. Order reversed.
Ray J. Schoonhoven, with him Philip V. Carter and Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather and Geraldson, of the Illinois Bar, and Gilbert P. High, and High, Swartz, Childs and Roberts, for appellant.
Philip Salkin, with him Pearlstine, Salkin & Hardiman, for appellant.
Jerome J. Cooper and Edward T. Bresnan, with them Wolkin, Sarner & Cooper, and Maerz & Bresnan, for appellees.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Bok and Eagen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN.
This is an action in equity instituted by twenty-five members of the Shopmen's Local No. 755 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor. The defendants are the Shopmen's Local No. 755 and the plaintiffs' employer, the Link-Belt Company.
The complaint alleges separate causes of action in the alternative: (1) that the defendants conspired to cheat and defraud the plaintiffs of seniority rights to which they were entitled as a result of many years of employment with the Link-Belt Company; (2) that the defendants for illegal purposes deliberately misinterpreted and misapplied the terms of an existing bargaining agreement with respect to seniority status, thereby destroying the plaintiffs' third party beneficiary rights thereunder.
The defendants each filed preliminary objections to the complaint on the grounds, that the court did not have jurisdiction of the subject matter; that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their internal remedies in
the Shopmen's Local 755, as provided for in its bylaws and constitution; that the plaintiffs were guilty of laches. The court below sustained the objection to the alternative, or second cause of action, ruling that the plaintiffs had no legal standing to sue on the contract in question. The objections to the first cause of action were dismissed. From this order, the defendants filed separate appeals pursuing the jurisdictional objections under the provisions of the Act of March 5, 1925, P.L. 23, § 1, 12 PS § 672.
The facts, well pleaded in the complaint, which for the purpose of this appeal must be accepted as true, may be summarized as follows: Prior to October 1, 1952, the plaintiffs were all long-time employees of the Link-Belt Company at its Nicetown plant located in Philadelphia and, as such, were members of the United Steel Workers, Local 3824, an affiliate of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. This Local 3824 represented the production and maintenance employees at this plant. On or about November 1, 1952, the Link-Belt Company opened and began the operation of a new plant at Colmar, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Between October 1, 1952, and November 1, 1952, the Link-Belt Company hired employees at the Colmar plant, who had never been employed by the company previously. During this period, the plaintiffs and other employees at the Nicetown plant requested transfers to the Colmar plant, which were denied. As of June 1, 1953, a majority of the employees at the Colmar plant were new employees and, on this date in a representative election, the ...