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Napa Pittsburgh Inc. v. Automotive Chauffeurs

decided: August 8, 1974.


Submitted on Rehearing, En Banc June 12, 1974.

Seitz, Chief Judge, Van Dusen, Aldisert, Adams, Gibbons, Rosenn, Hunter, Weis and Garth, Circuit Judges. Hunter, C.j., with whom Seitz, C.j., joins, dissenting. Adams, C.j., dissenting.

Author: Weis


This is an appeal from an order enjoining appellant Automotive Chauffeurs, Parts and Garage Employees, Local Union No. 926 (Local 926) from refusing to cross a picket line maintained by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, Local 110 (Local 110). The question presented is whether the district court erred in issuing a preliminary injunction against Local 926 and in ordering arbitration of the differences between the parties in accordance with the provision of the collective bargaining agreement. We conclude that the action of the trial court was proper and we affirm.*fn1

Plaintiff-appellee, NAPA Pittsburgh, Inc., is a corporation with its executive offices and principal place of business on Hamilton Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Appellant, Local 926, represents approximately 54 of 110 employees at the Hamilton Avenue facility for collective bargaining purposes. A work stoppage occurred at this location as a result of the efforts of a second union, Local 110, to represent the employees of a company located in Altoona, Pennsylvania, doing business under the name of NAPA Altoona, Inc.*fn2 In order to promote its endeavors, Local 110 called a strike at the Altoona facility and began picketing there. For reasons that do not appear in the record, they decided to extend the picketing to the NAPA Pittsburgh building on Hamilton Avenue.

When this occurred, appellant, Local 926, informed its Hamilton Avenue members that they could refuse to cross Local 110's picket line. The union based this position on Article XIII of its collective bargaining agreement with appellee, which provides:

"It shall not be a violation of this Agreement . . . in the event an employee refuses to enter upon any property involved in a primary labor dispute or refuses to go through or work behind any primary picket lines . . . at the Employer's place or places of business."

As a result of this stand, a work stoppage occurred at the Hamilton Avenue facility.

NAPA Pittsburgh's response was to seek injunctive relief from the district court. The company argued that a question existed as to whether the picket line that Local 926 chose to honor was "primary" within the meaning of Article XIII, and contended that this issue was subject to the mandatory arbitration and no strike provisions contained in the collective bargaining agreement. The circumstances thus were alleged to bring the case within the Boys Markets exception to the anti-injunction provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act.*fn3

After a hearing, the district court found that the employees' right to honor a picket line at the Hamilton Avenue plant was limited by the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and that the arbitration clause provided the compulsory method of resolving a dispute over the exercise of the privilege. Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks Union, Local 770, 398 U.S. 235, 26 L. Ed. 2d 199, 90 S. Ct. 1583 (1970) was held to be applicable, and a preliminary injunction was issued ordering that the work stoppage be ended and the parties begin arbitration of their differences.

In cases of this nature we start with the basic premise that the law favors arbitration of labor disputes. That there can be no doubt about this is clear from the pronouncements of the Supreme Court in the Steelworkers' Trilogy -- United Steelworkers of America v. American Mfg. Co., 363 U.S. 564, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1403, 80 S. Ct. 1343 (1960); United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409, 80 S. Ct. 1347 (1960); and United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1424, 80 S. Ct. 1358 (1960). The most recent reaffirmation of the policy may be found in Gateway Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America, et al., 414 U.S. 368, 94 S. Ct. 629, 38 L. Ed. 2d 583, 42 U.S.L.W. 4095 (1974).

Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks Union, Local 770, supra, holds in essence that where a matter has been made arbitrable by the terms of a contract between the union and the company, an injunction may be issued to enforce this method of settling controversies between the parties. In determining whether a matter is arbitrable under the contract, any doubt should be resolved in favor of arbitration. United Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation, supra.

Here, the parties agreed to arbitrate ". . . any and all grievances, complaints or disputes arising between the employer and the union . . .." The collective bargaining agreement also provided that it would not be a violation of the contract if an employee honored a primary picket line. Obviously then, it would be a breach of the agreement if the employees honored a picket line which was not primary.

The contractual provisions are clear but the parties disagree as to whether the picket line involved in this case was "primary." The union says that it was; the company denied it.*fn4 Both contend vigorously that they are correct. This is clearly a "dispute" and hence covered by the contractual requirement of arbitration.

If it should be determined that a "primary" picket line was present at the plaintiff's plant, then unquestionably Local 926 could refuse to cross. If it was "secondary," then the company had the right to insist that the union honor its no strike agreement.

The union relies on the holdings of Amstar Corp. v. Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen, 468 F.2d 1372 (5th Cir. 1972); General Cable Corp. v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 331 F. Supp. 478 (D.C. Md. 1971); and Simplex Wire and Cable Co. v. Local 2208 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 314 F. Supp. 885 (D.C.N.H. 1970), but these opinions are clearly distinguishable. In none of the cited cases was there a contractual provision restricting the union's right to honor picket lines of other labor organizations. Indeed, the district court in the Simplex case, supra, specifically noted the omission of any reference to the subject in the contract between the parties in that case.

By way of contrast, the Court of Appeals in Monongahela Power Co. v. IBEW, 484 F.2d 1209 (4th Cir. 1973), held that an injunction could be issued to enforce a no strike clause in a contract even though it had no provision applicable to honoring a picket line of another union. In a later case, Pilot Freight Carriers v. Teamsters, 497 F.2d 311 (4th Cir. 1974), the same court sustained an injunction against a union honoring a picket line where the contract contained language similar to the one sub judice, and held that the matter was arbitrable.

We hold that determination of whether the picket line should be classified as primary or secondary was arbitrable under the terms of the contract and pending resolution of the question Local 926 was properly enjoined from causing a work cessation. Requiring arbitration does not nullify the union's right to honor a primary picket line, but only suspends the exercise of the right until its existence is established by an arbitrator's decision. Undue delay should not be permitted since the district court has ample authority in the exercise of its equitable powers to see to it that arbitration proceeds promptly and expeditiously.

The order of the district court will be affirmed.

HUNTER, C.J., with whom SEITZ, C.J., joins, dissenting:

The majority begins its discussion of the merits of the case by referring to "the basic premise that the law favors arbitration of labor disputes." It then goes on to emphasize one key point: that the dispute between the Company and Local 926 -- over whether Local 110's picket line is primary or secondary and thus whether Local 926's work stoppage is legal -- is an arbitrable dispute. Our response is wholehearted agreement. The law does favor arbitration in this area, and the dispute over the nature of the Local 110 picket line is arbitrable. Moreover, we note that the district court found the issue to be arbitrable and that the appellant Union does not dispute this finding.*fn1

We feel that this last point is of great significance in view of the position taken by the majority. Since everyone, including the appellant union, agrees that this issue is arbitrable, the majority's conclusion that the Company-Local 926 dispute is arbitrable, while undoubtedly correct, does not address itself to the issue raised by appellant and therefore cannot resolve the question presented by this appeal.

Thus, we must begin with a formulation of the issue we are called upon to resolve. In our opinion that issue can be framed in the following way: given the fact that the issue as to the legality of the Local 926 work stoppage is arbitrable, should the district court be able to involve itself in this dispute by enjoining the work stoppage until an arbitrator can decide its legality?

One possible resolution of this question is to conclude that the federal courts can always intervene and issue an injunction against a strike whenever the resolution of an arbitrable dispute might end it.*fn2 This is the implicit conclusion of the majority. Since we feel this decision is not supported either by a ...

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