Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

BITUMINOUS COAL OPERATORS' ASSN., INC. v. INTERNAT

May 6, 1977

BITUMINOUS COAL OPERATORS' ASSOCIATION, INC., a corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, an unincorporated association, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

 The preamble to plaintiff's complaint shows that this labor lawsuit is an unusual one:

 
"The Complaint does not seek damages from the United Mine Workers of America. We ask only that the Court, pursuant to established legal principles, make findings and issue an order as prayed for herein to strengthen the hand of the International Union by requiring it to take appropriate action to become a more effective and responsible party to the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement, able to assure for its members the wages, benefits and rights of that Agreement, but also to assure that the Union and its membership act responsibly toward the operators and live up to their reciprocal responsibilities under the Agreement. * * * The staggering losses to the industry, the coal miners, and the UMWA Pension and Health Funds financed by the industry are irreparable and cannot be recouped. Nor can the tonnage lost be replaced in a nation sorely in need of energy resources. * * * In sum, this suit is intended to create a climate conducive to long-range harmonious and stable labor relations in the coal industry. To this end, we seek a nation-wide order on the basis of the facts and the prayer for relief as set forth herein."

 Defendant takes a less kindly view of the salutary motives for this lawsuit:

 
"The Complaint filed herein is unique not only in form but also in substance in that it requests relief which runs counter to basic, fundamental and virtually indisputable precepts of modern federal labor law. Plaintiff, the bargaining arm of management in the Bituminous coal industry, seeks through this action to interfere, and, indeed, to dictate control of the internal affairs of the United Mine Workers of America -- the labor organization with which it is by law required to deal separately and at arm's length. By this action, management seeks to invalidate [the International's by-laws] and substitute for such provisions policies and procedures acceptable to Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, regardless of the policies contained in the UMWA International Constitution, the Constitutions of its various Districts, the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 151 et seq., the provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq., and the outstanding provisions of various court orders."

 Motion to Dismiss Complaint by International Union, UMWA.

 This action is brought under Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 185, and Sections 2201 and 2202 of Title 28, U.S.C. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. This suit is not directed at any one strike or work stoppage, but complains of a "national pattern and practice of picketing and work stoppages", over disputes which are subject to the grievance and arbitration provisions of the contract.

 Bituminous Coal Operators' Association, Inc. (BCOA) is a nonprofit corporation incorporated under the laws of the District of Columbia and having its principal place of business in Washington, D.C. It is a voluntary association of bituminous coal mining companies whose employees are represented by the United Mine Workers of America (herein UMWA or International Union). Members of BCOA produce approximately 65% of all bituminous coal mined in the United States. BCOA is the sole and exclusive bargaining agent for its members and is the signatory on behalf of its members of the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1974, the contract in issue here.

 Defendant UMWA is an unincorporated labor organization, also having its principal offices in Washington, D.C. It represents its members, and its district and local union subdivisions, in negotiating collective bargaining agreements with plaintiff.

 In December of 1974 the parties entered into a labor agreement, the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1974 (the "1974 Agreement"). It became effective December 6, 1974, and continues in full force and effect until December 6, 1977.

 The 1974 Agreement provides means for peaceful settlement of disputes through a multi-step grievance-arbitration procedure. Safety disputes, differences as to the meaning and application of contract provisions, differences as to matters not specifically mentioned in the contract, and any local trouble of any kind are all encompassed by the grievance-arbitration provisions. Article XXVII of the agreement *fn1" requires the parties to "maintain the integrity of the contract" and provides that "all disputes and claims which are not settled by agreement shall be settled by the machinery provided in the "Settlement of Disputes' Articles of this Agreement". Article XXVII exempts from its coverage disputes "national in character".

 BCOA asserts that as a consequence of these contractual undertakings, UMWA is obliged to take timely steps to insure compliance by its members with the 1974 Agreement and to end illegal picketing and work stoppages by its members "by any and all reasonable means at its command".

 Nevertheless, alleges BCOA, notwithstanding the provisions of the 1974 Agreement and identical provisions of predecessor labor agreements, "defendant's members have engaged in and continue to engage in a national pattern and practice of picketing and work stoppages over disputes which are subject to the grievance and arbitration provisions . . .". The result of these illegal strike activities, alleges BCOA, has been the "closing of coal mines and the interruption of the production of coal vital to the Nation's energy needs". The complaint estimates that in 1975, up to September 16, 1975, the date of filing the complaint, plaintiff's members lost production of 1,368,000 man-days, which translates approximately into $76,000,000 payroll loss, 16,500,000 tonnage loss, and a $22,000,000 pension and trust fund loss. The court recognizes that prior to the institution of this suit, United States District Courts in the bituminous coal fields of the Eastern United States were flooded with applications for injunctive relief against widespread work stoppages induced by roving pickets throughout the area.

 BCOA therefore seeks what has been called a "prospective" injunction, directed at disputes that have not yet occurred nor yet been conceived. Specifically, BCOA prays that the court:

 
"(1) Issue a judgment declaring that defendant has breached the 1974 Agreement by failing and refusing to take timely, affirmative, positive and effective steps to insure compliance by its members with the 1974 Agreement and to end the national pattern and practice of illegal picketing and work stoppages by its members by any and all reasonable means at its command.
 
(2) Issue an order compelling defendant, its officers, agents and employees, to take prompt and affirmative action, in accordance with a plan to be submitted to and for approval by the Court within 60 days from the date of this order, explaining in specific and complete terms how it plans to take affirmative steps, and how such steps will be implemented, to insure compliance by its members with the 1974 Agreement and to end the national pattern and practice of illegal picketing and work stoppages by its members by any and all reasonable means at its command, including but not limited to (a) instructing its members that picketing and work stoppages over arbitrable issues are prohibited under the 1974 Agreement; (b) instructing its members that the refusal to cross any picket line established or maintained in violation of the 1974 Agreement is prohibited under the 1974 Agreement; (c) instructing its members of the meaning and application of the 1974 Agreement; (d) disciplining all members, including officers and committeemen of subordinate administrative divisions, who fail or refuse to comply with the 1974 Agreement, or who instigate, condone and ratify illegal picketing or work stoppages; (e) refusing to defend Districts or local unions or individuals who engage in, condone, or instigate illegal strike activity; (f) condemning so-called "roving" and "stranger" picketing, identifying such pickets and disciplining them; and (g) suspending the autonomy of any District or local union which instigates, aides, or condones, ratifies or sanctions any such illegal picketing or work stoppage, or otherwise fails to carry out promptly and effectively defendant's instructions to cease such illegal action or to bring about the cessation of such illegal action.
 
(3) Grant such other relief as may be appropriate.

 Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint for numerous reasons summarized as follows:

 
1. Plaintiff's action is barred by the express terms of the 1974 Agreement.
 
2. Lack of jurisdiction.
 
A. The injunctive relief requested is expressly prohibited by the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.
 
B. The Declaratory Judgment Act does not confer jurisdiction to grant relief prohibited by the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
 
3. Failure to join indispensable parties.
 
A. BCOA member companies.
 
B. Defendant's District and Local unions, and their officers and members.
 
4. The relief sought is inconsistent with Congressional policy and unlawful.
 
5. Plaintiff lacks authority to bring this suit and is not a real party in interest.
 
6. The request for injunctive relief is moot.
 
A. Imposing a "best efforts" obligation on defendant, or to make it guarantor of its member's conduct, is contrary to the 1974 Agreement, its ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.