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HIGHWAY TRUCK DRIVERS & HELPERS, LOCAL 107 v. MOTO

August 12, 1964

HIGHWAY TRUCK DRIVERS AND HELPERS, LOCAL 107, affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, by its Trustee ad litem Michael Hession
v.
MOTOR TRANSPORT LABOR RELATIONS, INC., and Fees, Inc., and Edward K. Tryon Company



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WOOD

This is an action brought under the National Labor Relations Act, Section 301, 29 U.S.C.A. 185, wherein the plaintiff Union seeks a preliminary injunction.

The defendant, Motor Transport Labor Relations, Inc. (hereinafter M.T.L.R.) is an association of motor carriers organized and existing for the purpose of representing its members in collective bargaining with the plaintiff Union. Fees, Inc., a member of M.T.L.R., is a contract carrier which for many years pursuant to a contract performed hauling services for Supplee-Biddle-Steltz Company, a hardware and sporting goods concern. The remaining defendant, Edward K. Tryon Company, (hereinafter Tryon) which is not a member of M.T.L.R., acquired the assets, tradename and good will of Supplee-Biddle-Steltz Company on or about January 1964. The consolidated company now operates under the trade name of Tryon-Supplee-Biddle and is still engaged in the wholesale hardware and sporting goods business.

 As part of the consolidation of the two companies, Tryon decided to cease its private carrier operations entirely, and to switch over to contract carrier transportation services. A private carrier is a concern which employs its own drivers, helpers and utilizes its own trucks to deliver its merchandise. A contract carrier supplies the drivers, helpers and trucks and performs the transportation for other concerns pursuant to a contract.

 Upon learning of Tryon's decision to eliminate its transportation services, the Plaintiff Union recommended that the drivers and helpers terminate their employment with Tryon and become employees of Fees, Inc. This suggestion was heeded by the Tryon drivers and they were placed on Fees' payroll.

 When the nine drivers from Tryon be-became Fees' employees, a question of seniority arose as to whether the Tryon drivers or the Fees drivers would have paramount seniority rights.

 The plaintiff Union when consulted on this problem directed that the former Tryon employees be placed at the top of the seniority list and that the Fees' people were to be relegated to the bottom of the list regarding the work which Fees was going to perform for the new concern, Tryon-Supplee-Biddle.

 In the trucking business, seniority often becomes the all-important factor in determining which employees will receive the most work when a merger or consolidation of two concerns occurs.

 Naturally, the Fees' employees were dissatisfied with this seniority determination by the Union. One Fees' employee, a shop steward, filed a grievance pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement, Article VII, entitled 'Grievance Machinery,' requesting a determination of the seniority question between the two groups of drivers. Eventually the grievance was submitted to the Joint Area Committee in accordance with Section 4 of Article VII for a decision. *fn1"

 The Joint Area Committee conducted a hearing and on May 4, 1964, rendered a decision which held that the former employees of Fees be merged on the current seniority list of Fees based on the original date of hire with either Tryon or Fees. The procedure for such a merger of employees is known as 'dovetailing.'

  The Union contends that this decision results from an erroneous application of the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement by the Joint Area Committee. It is further argued by the Union that since Tryon purchased Supplee-Biddle-Steltz, that no merger took place and that the Joint Area Committee committed an error of law when it applied the seniority provisions of the contract applicable to mergers, purchases, acquisitions and sales, et cetera. *fn2" The ken of the Union's position is that Tryon was merely a private carrier which ceased its private operation and became what is known in the trade as a house concern. A house concern is a private carrier which has delivered its own freight with its own truck and driver and decides to discontinue such method of operation and elects to lease or hire a truck and driver from an Employer such as Fees -- a contract carrier.

 The collective bargaining agreement prescribes different seniority rules for house concerns, wherein Article 5, Section 5, states that drivers formerly employed by such organizations hold seniority on the work of the house concern as if actually employed by such companies. *fn3"

 The pertinent facts are not in dispute and no evidence was offered by any of the parties. Essentially, the Union seeks to have this Court reverse the finding of the Arbitration Committee by concluding that it was erroneous in its reliance upon the seniority provisions applicable to mergers, sales, purchases and acquisitions (n.t. 39). No allegation of prejudice, fraud or bad faith is made by the Union in its complaint.

 We concluded at the hearing that there was no showing of irreparable harm to merit the granting of a preliminary ...


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