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SMITH v. PITTSBURGH GAGE & SUPPLY CO.

June 16, 1965

Karl R. Smith, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
Pittsburgh Gage and Supply Company, et al., Defendants


Rosenberg, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSENBERG

Several motions are here for determination. The first is a Motion to Dismiss as made by one defendant, Pittsburgh Gage and Supply Company. The second is a Motion Raising Questions of Lack of Jurisdiction over Subject Matter, and with it, a Motion for Failure to State a Claim Upon Which Relief Can Be Granted, as made by the second defendant, Steamfitters Local Union No. 449.

 In the complaint separate counts are set forth for each plaintiff alleging that the defendants entered into a conspiracy to violate their collective bargaining agreement and deny them their employment rights. They aver, in substance, that jurisdiction rests with this Court by virtue of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185. It is further averred that at all times material to the complaint the defendant union was the authorized collective bargaining agent for the defendant company; that both defendants breached the collective bargaining agreement in demanding that the individual plaintiffs leave, quit and withdraw from the defendant union and join some other bargaining unit; that the plaintiffs were threatened with economic and physical reprisals for their failure to do so; that they were unfairly discharged from employment for their failure to quit the defendant union; that the defendants violated the collective bargaining agreement in violating the job classification provisions, in violating the seniority provisions and in violating the grievance and dispute provisions; that the union contract was further violated when the defendant company hired and transferred an equal number of non-union persons to perform the work formerly done by the plaintiffs; that each plaintiff has lost the averred amounts; and that each is entitled to an equal sum in punitive damages.

 The Union points out in its brief that the plaintiffs had originally filed a complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, but that preliminary objections were sustained, and upon appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Smith v. Pittsburgh Gage and Supply Co., 412 Pa. 171, 194 A.2d 181 (1963), the action of the Court of Common Pleas was affirmed.

 It is also stated that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had held that this was not an action for the State courts, but rather one which properly should have come before the National Labor Relations Board in accordance with the Act of Congress as an unfair labor practice. This is mentioned only because it was raised by the defendant Union in its argument.

 While it does appear that the complaint in the Common Pleas Court and the one filed here are similar, this action here must be made in accordance with the Act of Congress and the circumstances of the case. § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act provides in part:

 
"Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties . . .".

 The complaint here does not set out which sections of the contract have been violated.

 Section 301 provides for bringing actions for violations of contracts between an employer and labor organizations in a district court, but it does not confer jurisdiction in suits between an employee and a labor organization. Palnau v. Detroit Edison Company et al., 301 F.2d 702, C.A. 6, 1962; Copra et al. v. Suro et al., 236 F.2d 107, C.A. 1, 1956. However, as against an employer for violation of a contract, individuals may sue in their own rights as a class. Smith v. Evening News Association, 371 U.S. 195, 83 S. Ct. 267, 9 L. Ed. 2d 246, 1962.

 In San Diego Building Trades Council et al. v. Garmon et al., 359 U.S. 236, 79 S. Ct. 773, 3 L. Ed. 2d 775, 1959, Mr. Justice Frankfurter said at page 245:

 Congress has committed certain functions regarding relationship between employers and employees in its National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.).

 In § 7 it provided for protections such as the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives, to engage in other concerted activities, and to refrain from such other activities.

 In § 8 it provided for prohibitions in that it declared certain activities as unfair labor practices, such as to coerce employees, to dominate or interfere with the organization of any labor organization, to discriminate in regard to hiring, to discharge or otherwise discriminate against any employee because he had filed charges or given testimony under this chapter of the National Labor Relations Act, or to refuse to bargain collectively with employee representatives. Certain activities of labor organizations are declared to be ...


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