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COSMARK v. STRUTHERS WELLS CORPORATION. (10/17/63)

October 17, 1963

COSMARK, APPELLANT,
v.
STRUTHERS WELLS CORPORATION.



Appeal, No. 178, March T., 1962, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County, Sept. T., 1960, No. 3, in case of F. J. Cosmark, John C. Martin and Melvin D. Patterson, individually and as representatives of a class, v. Struthers Wells Corporation, International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers of America (A.F.L.-C.I.O.), Local Lodge 636, Russell A. Graham et al. Order affirmed.

COUNSEL

George J. Barco and Yolanda G. Barco, with them Barco and Barco, for appellants.

John C. Bane, Jr., with him V. H. Elderkin, Jr., John G. Wayman, J. S. McLaughlin, and Elderkin & Martin, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

F. Joseph Thomas, for appellees.

Before Bell, C.j., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Keim, JJ.

Author: Jones

[ 412 Pa. Page 213]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES

Three employees (Employees) of the Struther Wells Corporation (Employer), members in good standing of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (A.F.L.-C.I.O.) (International) and Local 636 thereof (Local), on their own behalf and as representatives of the employee-class known as "Forge Employees," instituted an equity action in the Court of Common Pleas of Crawford County against the Employer, the International, the Local and certain International and Local officials.

The complaint averred, inter alia, that: under a collective bargaining agreement between the Employer, the International and the Local, effective from June 15, 1957 to May 31, 1959, the Employees were divided into two separate seniority rosters, namely, Forge Weldment Division and Iron Works Division; at a meeting held on May 2, 1959, a majority of the membership of the Local in attendance ratified a new seniority provision, known as Article II, of a proposed new supplemental collective bargaining agreement which agreement, effective June 1, 1959, executed on September 23, 1959 was adopted by the Employer, the International and the Local: Article II of this new agreement eliminated the system of separate seniority rosters theretofore existing between Forge Employees and Iron Works Employees and provided that employees of the Forge Weldment Division seniority list would As of May 1, 1959, be placed at the bottom of a consolidated seniority list, while still retaining overall length of service for vacation purposes: the Employer, engaged in the construction and manufacture of boilers and high-pressure vessels in various plants, operated a Forge Division at its Forge shop in Titusville, Crawford County, and an Iron Works Division

[ 412 Pa. Page 214]

    at its Iron Works shop, located close by in Titusville; the Employees were employed in Employer's Forge Division at the Forge shop in Titusville; in August, 1957, the Employer began to move its machinery and work, which had been performed prior thereto in the Forge shop of the Forge Division, to the Perry Forge shop and the Iron Works shop; in these latter shops, Forge employees were furloughed and additional Iron Works employees were engaged; by April 1959, all operations at the Forge shop had ceased and the machines and orders on which the Forge employees had customarily worked were being serviced at the Iron Works shop and the Perry Forge shop by Iron Works employees, many of whom had less seniority than the Forge Employees under the collective bargaining agreement of 1957; the furloughed Forge employees, who were thus out of work from April, 1959 to the date of filing the complaint in August, 1960, would have been employed during that entire period and many of the other Forge employees would have been employed for a larger period of time but for the action taken by the employer, the Unions and the named Union officials.

The complaint further alleged that: the Employer's actions in transferring the work and machinery from the Forge Division shop, culminating in a termination of the work of the operators there on or about April, 1959, with the consequent laying off of the Forge employees who would otherwise have been employed there, constituted a permanent discontinuance of the department, entitling the furloughed employees to severance pay; the Employer's actions in establishing a consolidated seniority list was arbitrary and discriminatory against the Forge employees and wrongfully deprived them of ...


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