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CONSOLIDATION COAL CO. v. INTERNATIONAL UNION

May 6, 1977

CONSOLIDATION COAL COMPANY, a corporation et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, an unincorporated association, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

 Plaintiffs are four coal mining companies engaged in the mining and selling of bituminous coal in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. All are signatories to the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1974.

 The defendant, International Union, United Mine Workers of America, is a labor organization, which represents and acts for its members employed in bituminous coal mines, including those employed at the mines of the plaintiffs. It represents the employees at these mines for collective bargaining purposes and has entered into the aforesaid collective bargaining agreement on their behalf. The International Union is divided into Districts, Subdistricts and Local Unions, which are subject to the supreme legislative, executive and judicial authority of the International Union.

 This is a suit under Sec. 301 of the LMRA [ 29 U.S.C. § 185] to enforce the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement by specific performance and to secure damages for its breach.

 The 1974 collective bargaining agreement governs the relations between the parties with respect to wages, conditions of employment, and the settlement of disputes arising out of the terms of the agreement. The settlement of disputes procedure provides for the handling of grievances through various stages up to final and binding arbitration. The 1974 collective bargaining agreement also contained a separate detailed arbitration procedure for resolving health or safety disputes of the mines.

 After the effective date of the 1974 Agreement a series of disputes arose at the mines of various plaintiffs early in 1975 which led to work stoppages. These local work stoppages spread, cross-picketing appeared, and by April of 1975 there were widespread work stoppages throughout Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania involving mines of the various plaintiffs in this judicial district and elsewhere.

 Plaintiffs had sought injunctive relief in various United States district courts against local unions and districts, including actions in this district court, over specific disputes but during this time the work stoppages had spread.

 The complaint in this action was filed April 11, 1975, while widespread work stoppages were continuing in mines of the plaintiffs located in Ohio and West Virginia, outside the jurisdiction of this court. This complaint was directed solely at the International Union, and alleged that the work stoppages were illegal, in breach of the collective bargaining agreement, and that the International Union was responsible for the concerted actions of its members and had failed to take any effective action to stop this activity of its members. The complaint sought injunctive relief against the International Union in the form of a broad general mandate requiring the International Union to exercise its powers to require its members to abide by the collective bargaining agreement.

 A temporary restraining order was issued on April 14, 1975 on the basis of the verified complaint, affidavit and motion, and the matter was set down for hearing which resulted in evidentiary hearings on April 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, May 1, 5, 6 and 12, 1975. These hearings were consolidated with hearing on applications for temporary restraining orders against individual work stoppages at mines of various plaintiffs in this District, in which the local unions were named as parties.

 Defendants also moved to dismiss on the grounds that indispensable parties were not named, those being District 6 and numerous local unions involved in the work stoppages in Ohio and West Virginia which were not within the jurisdiction of this court. At this time, however, work stoppages had occurred at various of plaintiffs' mines in this District which were the subject of individual actions in this court. In any event, the sole relief demanded in this action was against the International Union, and the Court deferred a ruling on this motion pending the completion of testimony.

 The present motion, to which this opinion is addressed, is a motion to dismiss by defendant made at the conclusion of plaintiffs' evidence. It is based on the contention of the defendant that the claim for relief is outside the jurisdiction of this court under the provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.

 Thus the instant motion to dismiss at the end of the plaintiffs' evidence does not depend on the sufficiency of the evidence as to a breach of the contract terms, or on the irreparable injury shown, but rather depends upon the want of power of the court to grant the relief prayed for in any substantial degree.

 While we make no findings in this opinion on the evidence pertaining to the breach of the collective bargaining agreement, we believe that it would be sufficient to sustain findings of repeated breaches of the collective bargaining agreement by many local unions of the defendant and their members, by unauthorized work stoppages, failure to use the grievance and arbitration procedures, widespread cross-picketing and some instances of direct action or failure of action by officers of the defendant International Union, which could impose direct as well as vicarious liability on the defendant International Union. But regardless of these findings we can only conclude that the court has no power to grant the relief prayed for.

 While the plaintiffs urged the court to fashion its own relief as required by the unique nature of the case, "exercising its inventiveness in order to effectuate the policy or intent of a particular statute or legal principle being furthered by the case in question."

 As a suggestion to the court the plaintiffs submitted a proposed order which they alleged in its form or one of similar substance would be appropriate in the circumstances to protect the constitutional and legal rights of the parties:

 
"1. The International Union, its officers, representatives, agents, servants, members and employees are preliminarily enjoined from engaging in any strike, work stoppage and/or picketing activity at any of plaintiffs' mines, or enlarging or extending in any strike or work stoppage at plaintiffs' mines over any difference, dispute or local trouble that may arise at plaintiffs' mines between the members of the United Mine Workers of America and the plaintiffs as to the meaning or application of the provisions of the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1974 or any difference, dispute or local trouble of any kind ...

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