Appeals, Nos. 225, 226, 227, 228 and 229, Jan. T., 1961, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Sept. T., 1959, No. 11, in case of Joseph Gavigan, William Gross, Bruce Laurie et al. v. Bookbinders, Machine Operators, and Auxiliary Workers Local Union No. 97, Scranton, Pennsylvania, International Brotherhood of Bookbinders, and The Haddon Craftsmen, Inc., division of International Textbook Company. Decree affirmed.
Joseph E. Gallagher, with him James W. McNulty, and O'Malley, Morgan, Bour & Gallagher, for appellants.
Paul A. McGlone, for union, appellee.
Sheldon Rosenberg, with him Nogi, O'Malley & Harris, for corporation, appellee.
Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen and O'brien, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO
When does a journeyman bookbinder's seniority rights in the plant of the defendant company begin - as of the date he was first employed in the defendant's plant, or as of the date he acquired journeyman's status? That is the question involved in this appeal.
The plaintiffs are journeymen bookbinders in the Bindery Department of the Haddon Craftsmen, Inc., Division of the International Textbook Company, and members of the Bookbinders, Machine Operators, and Auxiliary Workers Local Union 97, Scranton, International Brotherhood of Bookbinders. They filed an action in equity against the Union and the Company to compel them to accept a journeymen's seniority list based upon the date of classification as journeymen in
the bindery department of the Company's Scranton plant. They also asked for a nullification of the seniority provision in the collective bargaining agreement of May 25, 1959 alleging it violated the Union constitution. They further requested a judgment in money for asserted loss of wages. The defendants filed answers with new matter, the plaintiffs replied, the defendants were granted a rule to show cause why the action should not be stayed pending arbitration, which rule was later discharged. The defendants filed preliminary objections which were overruled and motions for judgment on the pleadings were denied. After considering oral testimony and documentary evidence the chancellor dismissed the bill, exceptions were filed to the adjudication by the plaintiffs, and the court en banc affirmed the chancellor's decree nisi, making it final.
An appeal followed to this Court.*fn* Counsel for the plaintiffs has filed a formidable brief and at oral argument presented a strong and able case in behalf of his clients. He emphasized the history of the relationship between the Union and the Company, and pointed out that in various collective bargaining agreements of the past, the interpretation he urges was accepted as proper, valid and binding. Interesting as is that history, we must decide the issues raised in this particular litigation according to the agreement in force at the time the litigation began.
The employees in the bindery department of the Company's plant are divided into journeymen, apprentices, and auxiliary workers, the auxiliary workers consisting of ...