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EAZOR EXPRESS, INC. v. INTERNATIONAL BHD. OF TEAMS

March 30, 1973

Eazor Express, Inc., Plaintiff
v.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Local Union No. 249 et al., Defendants Daniels Motor Freight, Inc. et al., Plaintiffs v. Local 377, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America et al., Defendants


Teitelbaum, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TEITELBAUM

These are actions in which the plaintiff employers, Eazor Express, Inc. ("Eazor") and Daniels Motor Freight, Inc. ("Daniels"), *fn1" seek to recover damages for unlawful strikes from the defendant labor organizations, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America ("International") and two of its locals, Local 377 and Local 249. The jurisdictional basis of both actions, which were consolidated for trial, *fn2" is stipulated by all parties to be § 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (29 U.S.C. § 185, as amended). Section 301 provides, in pertinent part, that,

 
"[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. . . ."

 The contracts alleged by the plaintiffs to have been violated are the National Master Freight Agreement, covering the period April 1, 1967 through March 31, 1970, to which the plaintiffs, the defendant locals, and the National Over-The-Road and City Cartage Policy and Negotiating Committee of the International ("National Committee") were parties, and the various supplements thereto, viz. (1) (a) the Joint Council No. 40, Freight Division, Over-The-Road Supplemental Agreement and (b) the Joint Council 40, Freight Division, Local Cartage Supplemental Agreement, both being between Eazor, the National Committee and Local 249, and (2) (a) the Central States Area Over-The-Road Supplemental Agreement, with Ohio Rider, and (b) the Central States Area Local Cartage Supplemental Agreement, both being between Daniels, the National Committee and Local 377, and (3) the National Iron and Steel and Special Commodities Supplemental Agreement.

 The alleged violations of these contracts are strikes -- one by Local 377 against Daniels (at all relevant times Local 377 was the exclusive bargaining agent for drivers, dock employees, and garage employees working out of or at Daniels' terminal at Warren, Ohio) and one by Local 249 against Eazor (at all relevant times Local 249 was the exclusive collective bargaining agent for drivers, helpers, and warehousemen working out of or at Eazor's terminal at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). The strikes began on August 20, 1968, when the members of Local 377 walked off their jobs at Daniels' Warren terminal. By the following morning, August 21, a picket line had been established at Eazor's Pittsburgh terminal which was not only honored but supported by members of Local 249. The ensuing strikes of both terminals, which were characterized by roving bands of pickets and notable violence, ended for Daniels on September 17, 1968, when the terminal was permanently closed *fn3" and for Eazor on September 25, 1968, when the members of Local 249 returned to work.

 Neither strike was authorized or sanctioned, either by the respective local officials or by International officials, i.e., each was a "wildcat" strike. *fn4" Both, however, were admittedly violations of the "no strike" provision of the supplements to the National Master Freight Agreement which recites as follows:

 
"The [Unions] and the Employers agree that there shall be no strike, lock-out, tie-up, or legal proceedings without first using all possible means of [a] settlement, as provided for in this Agreement and in the National Agreement, if applicable, of any controversy which might arise." *fn5"

 The Daniels' Strike Was Not Authorized.

 Locals 377 and 249 rely on Article 4 of the National Master Freight Agreement which provides as follows:

 
"Job Stewards and alternates have no authority to take strike action . . . except as authorized by official action of the Local Union. The Employer recognizes these limitations upon the authority of job stewards and their alternates, and shall not hold the Union liable for any unauthorized acts."

 Article 4 further, as the quid pro quo for the employers relinquishing of any rights it may have against the union for unauthorized work stoppages, vests in the employer the unquestionable authority to "impose proper discipline, including discharge, in the event the shop steward has taken unauthorized strike action". The Central States Area supplements complement this provision. *fn6" Article 43, Section 2 of the Central States Area supplements requires the local union to furnish, within two weeks of the signing of the agreements, the employer with a list of its members who have the authority to act for the union in calling strikes, and provides (1) that the union "shall not be liable for any activities unless so authorized" and (2) that in the event of an unauthorized strike the union "shall not be liable for damages". Article 43, Section 2 further, however, makes it mandatory for the union to,

 
". . . undertake every reasonable means to induce such employees to return to their jobs during any unauthorized strike."

 The representative designated pursuant to Article 43, Section 2 of the Central States Area supplements was John J. O'Neill, at all relevant times a business agent for and a vice-president of Local 377. The plaintiffs urge that O'Neill actually called the strike, and, resultingly, that the liability of Local 377 and the International is patent. The initial factual issue to be resolved, then, is whether or not the evidence supports the conclusion that O'Neill in fact called the strike in Warren.

 Many of the events surrounding the inception of the strike in Warren are undisputed. On Saturday, August 17, 1968, the employment of Kenneth Roper, a garage employee of Daniels and a member of Local 377, was terminated because he refused a work assignment. On Monday, August 19, the employment of Jack Eckley, a driver employee of Daniels and a member of Local 377, was terminated similarly because he refused a work assignment. To attempt to resolve the outgrowing grievances of Roper and Eckley, meetings were held at Daniels' Warren terminal on the morning of August 20, between ...


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