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BARNES & TUCKER CO. v. UMW

February 16, 1972

Barnes & Tucker Company, Plaintiff,
v.
United Mine Workers of America et al., Defendants


Dumbauld, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUMBAULD

It is common knowledge that the collective bargaining agreements governing the coal industry are negotiated on the national level. In olden times the negotiations were, on behalf of the miners, in the hands of John L. Lewis, one of the giant figures of the day, who when he saw fit would defy the President and the federal courts. *fn1" Later negotiators, succeeding to the mantle of the legendary patriarch, may have pictured themselves in the situation of Macbeth, of whom it was said:

 
Now does he feel his title
 
Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
 
Upon a dwarfish thief. *fn2"

 The current contract, as the record in this case discloses, was signed on November 12, 1971, (Tr. 20, 38), and the Nixon pay board promptly gave its approval on the 19th (Tr. 21). The District Office immediately instructed the men to return to work. Several mines in the area had been idle, in accordance with another well known United Mine Workers of America tenet -- no contract, no work.

 But the members of Local 1269 at plaintiff's mine did not return to work immediately after the contract was signed. At first, meeting on November 16th, they delayed until they received a copy of the contract (Tr. 26). On the 18th, and 21st, after receiving a copy of the contract (apparently disliking its terms) they voted again not to go back to work (Tr. 27). No grievances had been filed against the company between November 12th and the court hearing on the 24th, nor was any work done by the members of Local 1269 (Tr. 28-29, 31). A temporary restraining order was issued on November 24, 1971, and at a hearing on issuance of an injunction (held December 20, 1971) counsel submitted no additional evidence. The temporary restraining order was extended on December 8, 1971, for ten days. The questions of law remain to be determined.

 The basic question is whether an injunction against work stoppage is proper under these circumstances, namely, where there is a binding collective bargaining agreement (not containing a no-strike provision) and where there is no grievance between the union members and the employer, but a disagreement between the union members and the upper echelons of the union hierarchy.

 We begin consideration of the topic with the principle enunciated in the Norris-La Guardia Act, *fn3" that injunctions in labor disputes are in principle to be regarded with disfavor. This conclusion expresses the legislative condemnation of the previous history of excessive use of such injunctions, a history reviewed in the classical book by Frankfurter and Green.

 The statutory language is couched in jurisdictional as well as substantive policy terms:

 
No court of the United States, as defined in this chapter, shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute, except in a strict conformity with the provisions of this chapter; nor shall any such restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction be issued contrary to the public policy declared in this chapter. (29 U.S.C. § 101)

 "Ceasing or refusing to perform any work" is specified in 29 U.S.C. § 104 as one of the things which can not be enjoined.

 The procedural provisions with which strict conformity is prescribed are found in 29 U.S.C. §§ 107 and 109; and definitions ...


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