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LINK BELT COMPANY v. LOCAL UNION NO. 118 AMERICAN FEDERATION TECHNICAL ENGINEERS (07/01/64)

THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


July 1, 1964

LINK BELT COMPANY
v.
LOCAL UNION NO. 118 OF AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TECHNICAL ENGINEERS, APPELLANT.

Appeal, No. 19, Jan. T., 1965, from decree of Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, No. 64-5323, in case of Link Belt Company v. Local Union No. 118 of American Federation of Technical Engineers, American Federation of Technical Engineers, Local Union No. 14 of Office Employees International Union et al. Decree affirmed.

COUNSEL

Daniel L. Quinlan, Jr., for appellants.

Ray J. Schoonhoven, of the Illinois Bar, with him Gilbert P. High, John D. o'Brien, and High, Swartz, Childs and Roberts, and Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson, of the Illinois Bar, for appellee.

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

Author: Roberts

[ 415 Pa. Page 123]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS

On May 4, 1964, employees represented by appellant labor unions went on strike against their employer, Link Belt Company, appellee. On May 12, appellee brought an action in equity against appellants in order to obtain a preliminary injunction prior to hearing and a permanent injunction thereafter restraining alleged mass picketing. The complaint averred that defendants "formed and caused to be formed mass picket lines at all of the entrances and

[ 415 Pa. Page 124]

    exits to Plaintiff's property, including railroad sidings, and, by physical force, intimidation, threat of force, by jeers, vile, obscene, threatening and abusive language, and by the interposition of their persons have maliciously conspired to prevent the passage of vehicles and pedestrians, and by such action have thus barred other employees, supervisory personnel, customers, suppliers, and other persons lawfully desiring so to do from coming upon or leaving plaintiff's property in pursuit of plaintiff's business. Plaintiff attaches hereto and makes a part hereof the affidavits of divers persons in support of the allegations contained in this Complaint." (Italics in the original.)

Basing its action upon the complaint, injunction affidavits and the bond,*fn1 the court below granted a preliminary injunction. The order restrained appellants from interfering with employees of appellee by mass picketing, threats, coercion, etc., from preventing access to appellee's plant by mass picketing, threats, etc., and from conspiring with others to interfere with or injure, by force or numbers, the conduct of appellee's operations. The order also limited the number of pickets to three per plant entrance and set a hearing for the next morning to determine whether the injunction should be continued pending final disposition of the matter.

A motion to vacate was dismissed. After the hearing, the preliminary injunction was continued. Appellants appeal from the grant of the injunction and from its continuation.

Appellants' principal contention is that the Act of June 9, 1939, P.L. 302, § 1, 43 P.S. § 206d, which amends the Labor Anti-Injunction Act of June 2, 1937, P.L. 1198, § 4, does not authorize the issuance

[ 415 Pa. Page 125]

    of a preliminary injunction prior to hearing in a case growing out of a labor dispute. This contention is squarely contrary to the holding of Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp. v. United Steelworkers, 353 Pa. 420, 45 A.2d 857 (1946), which appellants request we overrule.

Appellees urge that since a hearing was held on the day following the issuance of the injunction, the question of ex parte injunction is now moot. Appellants counter that life cannot be breathed into an injunction which the court had no initial power to issue. Assuming, for the moment, that the latter position is so, we turn to the merits of the controversy.*fn2

As originally enacted, Section 4 of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act provided: "No court of this Commonwealth shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in a case included within this act, except in strict conformity with the provisions of this act, nor shall any such restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction be issued contrary to the public policy declared in this act. Exclusive jurisdiction and power to hear and determine all actions and suits coming under the provisions of this act, shall be vested in the courts of common pleas of the several counties of this Commonwealth."

Taken together with Sections 9 and 12 (43 P.S. §§ 206i and 2061), it is clear that between June 2, 1937 and the 1939 amendment, no court of the Commonwealth could issue an ex parte preliminary injunction.

[ 415 Pa. Page 126]

As it is material to the present controversy, the Act of 1939 added to Section 4 the following proviso: "Provided, however, That this act shall not apply in any case ... (d) Where in the course of a labor dispute as herein defined, an employe, or employes acting in concert, or a labor organization, or the members, officers, agents, or representatives of a labor organization or anyone acting for such organization, seize, hold, damage, or destroy the plant, equipment, machinery, or other property of the employer with the intention of compelling the employer to accede to any demands, conditions, or terms of employment, or for collective bargaining."

In Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp. v. United Steelworkers, 353 Pa. 420, 428, 45 A.2d 857, 860 (1946), this Court sustained the issuance of a preliminary injunction prior to hearing and, speaking through Mr. Chief Justice MAXEY, held: "The Act of June 9, 1939, P.L. 302, 43 P.S. 206d, amending the Anti-Injunction Act of 1937, P.L. 1198, 43 P.S. 206a, b, c, completely restores to the courts of common pleas the equitable powers exercised by them since the Act of June 16, 1836, P.L. 784, 17 P.S. 281, prior to the Act of 1937, for causes which fall within the terms of the 1939 Amending Act: Western Pa. Hospital et al. v. Lichliter et al., 340 Pa. 382."*fn3

[ 415 Pa. Page 127]

In Fountain Hill Underwear Mills v. Amalgamated Clothing Workers' Union, 393 Pa. 385, 143 A.2d 354 (1958), we specifically held that the Labor Anti-Injunction Act does not apply to every labor dispute. "If a particular labor dispute falls within the exclusion of section 206(d) [Section 4 of the Act], compliance with the procedural requirements of pleading and proof of that statute is not a prerequisite to the issuance of an injunction: Westinghouse Electric Corporation v. United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (CIO) Local 601, 353 Pa. 446, 46 A.2d 16; Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation v. United Steelworkers of America, 353 Pa. 420, 45 A.2d 857." Id. at 390-91, A.2d at 357-58.

Most recently, this Court sustained the issuance of a preliminary injunction without hearing in Phila. Minit-Man Car Wash Corp. v. Building and Construction Trades Council, 411 Pa. 585, 192 A.2d 378 (1963). The clear holding of the Minit-Man decision is that the usual rules of equity, particularly Pa. R.C.P. 1531 which authorizes the issuance of a preliminary injunction prior to hearing, will apply in cases outside the scope of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act by virtue of the proviso to Section 4.

Appellants also urge that the Act of 1939, by virtue of its title,*fn4 is an unconstitutional repeal of the entire Labor Anti-Injunction Act, or at least of Sections 4,

[ 415 Pa. Page 1286]

, 9 and 12, contrary to Article III, § 3 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.*fn5

This argument is rebutted by a mere examination of the Act. Section 4, as originally drafted, deprived our courts of jurisdiction to grant injunctions in labor disputes except as provided elsewhere in the Act. The proper and logical section for amendment to create exceptions to that limitation of jurisdiction is Section 4. The balance of the Act remains in full effect in those situations covered by the jurisdictional section. It is certainly incorrect to conclude that the Act has been repealed in its entirety. There still remains a vast area of labor problems subject to its application. See Fountain Hill Underwear Mills v. Amalgamated Clothing Workers' Union, supra.

Appellants apparently fear that skillful drafting is presently all that is needed for a labor dispute to be brought within the proviso and to justify the issuance of a preliminary injunction without hearing. This would seem to be an attack on the power of courts of equity generally to grant ex parte preliminary injunctions under any given set of facts. To the contrary, courts remain bound by the rules of equity, including the requirement that a hearing be held shortly after the issuance of an ex parte preliminary injunction, and do not lightly grant such relief. Moreover, if the injunction is granted, it restrains only the illegal conduct complained of and which brings the dispute within the proviso to Section 4 (as was done in the instant case).*fn6

[ 415 Pa. Page 129]

We find no reason to overrule Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corp. v. United Steelworkers, supra.

The remaining issue goes to the sufficiency of the allegations of the complaint to sustain the granting of the preliminary injunction.In considering this issue, we look only to see if there existed any apparently reasonable basis for the result below; we shall not pass on the merits or on the reasons for or against the preliminary relief granted. Phila. Minit-Man Car Wash Corp. v. Building and Construction Trades Council, 411 Pa. 585, 192 A.2d 378 (1963).

Our examination of the complaint*fn7 and of the supporting affidavits*fn8 reveals a reasonable basis for the court below to conclude preliminarily that appellants were engaged in illegal mass picketing. The preliminary injunction was properly issued initially and was properly continued after hearing. See Phila. Minit-Man Car Wash Corp. v. Building and Construction Trades Council, supra, and the cases discussed therein.

Mr. Justice COHEN and Mr. Justice EAGEN dissent.

Disposition

Decree affirmed. Each party to pay own costs.


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