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United States Steel Corp. v. United Mine Workers of America

decided: February 9, 1979.

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION, APPELLANT,
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA; DISTRICT NO. 4, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA; AND UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL NOS. 6321, 1980 AND 6548 APPELLEES.



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA D.C. Civil No. 76-400

Before Aldisert and Hunter, Circuit Judges, and Gerry,*fn* District Judge.

Author: Hunter

Opinion OF THE COURT

United States Steel Corp. (U.S. Steel or Company) brought this action under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act for an injunction and damages against the United Mine Workers of America (International); District 4, United Mine Workers of America (District); and Union Locals Nos. 6321, 1980, and 6548, United Mine Workers of America. First, U.S. Steel claimed that it was entitled to an injunction and damages against the three Locals because their members engaged in work stoppages in violation of a collective bargaining agreement. Second, U.S. Steel claimed that it was entitled to damages against the International and District for their failure to exercise all reasonable efforts to prevent the illegal work stoppages. Relying on Buffalo Forge Co. v. United Steelworkers, 428 U.S. 397, 96 S. Ct. 3141, 49 L. Ed. 2d 1022 (1976), and United States Steel Corp. v. United Mine Workers, 548 F.2d 67 (3d Cir. 1976), Cert. denied, 431 U.S. 968, 97 S. Ct. 2926, 53 L. Ed. 2d 1063 (1977), the district court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment against U.S. Steel. We reverse.

I.

This action had its origin in a dispute between U.S. Steel and United Mine Workers Local 1816 at U.S. Steel's Mt. Braddock Mine in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The members of Local 1816 contested management's filling of a vacancy for a continuous mine operator at the Mt. Braddock mine with a fully trained employee rather than an employee with less training but more seniority. On Friday, March 26, 1976 the members of Local 1816 struck the Mt. Braddock mine. The following Monday, March 29, pickets from Local 1816 appeared at three other mining and mining-related operations owned by U.S. Steel. Employee-members of UMW Local 6321 at the Robena No. 1 Mine and Robena Preparation Plant, employee-members of UMW Local 1980 at the Dilworth Mine, and employee-members of UMW Local 6548 at the Filbert Shop all refused to cross the picket lines. Operations ceased at all three U.S. Steel locations.

U.S. Steel immediately*fn1 brought two companion actions under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act.*fn2 In one action it sued Local 1816, the District, and the International for a preliminary injunction to compel the employees to return to work. In a separate action, the one now here on appeal, it sued Locals 6321, 1980, and 6548, the District, and the International seeking both an injunction and damages. The Company contended that the defendants breached the collective bargaining agreement by refusing to cross the picket lines set up by members of their sister local. A hearing on U.S. Steel's requests for preliminary injunctions in both actions was held at 4:45 p.m. on March 30, 1976. The district court granted the preliminary injunction against Local 1816 on that date, but denied the request for a preliminary injunction in this action on the attorneys' representation that the employees had returned to work. In fact, by 4:00 p. m. on March 30, operations had resumed at all three locations the Robena No. 1 Mine and Robena Preparation Plant, the Dilworth Mine, and the Filbert Shop. On March 31, 1976 work resumed at the Mt. Braddock Mine, the site of the original or underlying dispute.

U.S. Steel continued to press its damages action against Locals 6321, 1980, and 6548, the District, and the International.*fn3 Defendants brought a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure alleging that U.S. Steel failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Treating the defendants' motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment, the district court awarded summary judgment to the defendants on January 30, 1978. Local 1816 is not a party to this action, nor is U.S. Steel's separate action against Local 1816 before us.

II.

We are presented first with the issue of whether a union local is liable for damages for breach of an implied no-strike obligation if the local refuses to cross the picket lines of a sister local, when the sister local is protesting over an arbitrable dispute with a Common employer. In United States Steel Corp. v. United Mine Workers, 548 F.2d 67 (3d Cir. 1976), Cert. denied, 431 U.S. 968, 97 S. Ct. 2926, 53 L. Ed. 2d 1063 (1977) (U.S. Steel II ), this court held that the defendant local did not breach an implied no-strike obligation when the defendant local refused to cross the picket lines of its sister local, which was picketing over a dispute with a Different employer. We must decide whether the reasoning of U.S. Steel II controls this case.

U.S. Steel's action sounds in contract. Specifically, U.S. Steel alleges that by refusing to cross the Local 1816 picket lines, the defendant locals here breached their obligations under the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1974. While the 1974 Agreement between U.S. Steel and the UMW does not contain a no-strike clause, it does contain a broad binding, compulsory arbitration clause which provides:

Section (c) Grievance Procedure

Should differences arise between the Mine Workers and the Employer as to meaning and application of the provisions of this Agreement, or should differences arise about matters not specifically mentioned in this Agreement, or should any local trouble of any kind arise at the mine, an earnest ...


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