No. 262 March Term, 1978, No. 31 March Term, 1979, APPEAL from the Orders entered December 7, 1978 and February 9, 1979, Court of Common Pleas - Civil Action - Equity - Dauphin County at No. 3789,1978.
Margaret Browning, Philadelphia, for appellants.
C. Grainger Bowman, Harrisburg, for appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 281 Pa. Super. Page 386]
This is an appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, and involves appellant-defendants' appeal from orders of the court below issuing an injunction against defendants and then finding defendants in contempt of court for refusing to obey the injunction.
The appellee is an employer and appellants are a union, its officers, and certain other union members. On November 14, 1978, the appellants began a strike at the appellee's facilities as a result of appellee's refusal to recognize Local Union 464 as its employees' bargaining unit and its subsequent refusal to bargain with the Union. On December 5, 1978, the appellee filed a Complaint in Equity against appellants seeking an injunction against appellant. A hearing thereon was held on December 7, 1978, after which the court below issued an injunction against appellants restraining them from certain, specific activities. On December 18, 1978, appellants filed Preliminary Objections to the Complaint in Equity alleging that the court below did not have
[ 281 Pa. Super. Page 387]
jurisdiction over the matter because such jurisdiction rested exclusively with the National Labor Relations Board and because the Pennsylvania Labor Anti-Injunction Act (43 P.S. 206a et seq.) divested the court of jurisdiction of the matter. On January 4, 1979, the appellee filed a Petition for Contempt against appellants alleging that appellants should be held in contempt of court for violating the December 7, 1978 Order. A hearing on the contempt petition was held on February 9, 1979, after which the court below found appellants to be in contempt of court, ordered that a black van vehicle used by appellants as their strike headquarters be moved a distance of at least one-quarter mile from any entrance to appellee's premises, and ordered the Union to post a bond in the amount of $25,000 within ten (10 days the purpose of which was to indemnify appellee, its officers, employees, suppliers and other third persons entering or leaving appellee's premises of all damages they may suffer at the hands of the union or its agents in violation of the December 7, 1978 Order. Appellants filed timely appeals from both the Order of December 7, 1978 (Injunction Order) and the Order of February 9, 1978 (Contempt Order). Both appeals are consolidated for disposition in the instant case.
Appellants' first argument is that the Injunction Order of December 7, 1978 was unlawful because the court below did not have jurisdiction over the matter; jurisdiction being pre-empted by the National Labor Relations Board and the Pennsylvania Labor Anti-Injunction Act. They also argue that the facts adduced at the hearing held on the Complaint in Equity (Injunction Hearing) do not support the court's granting of the injunction. Appellants also argue that the court below erred in finding them in contempt of court because insufficient evidence of contumacious conduct was adduced at the contempt hearing of February 9, 1979 and because the Contempt Order was illegal since it contained no condition by which the appellants could purge themselves of the contempt.
The Pennsylvania Labor Anti-Injunction Act (43 P.S. 206a et seq.) limits the jurisdiction of courts over labor
[ 281 Pa. Super. Page 388]
disputes to certain specific situations. However, state courts do have the power to restrain violence, mass picketing and overt threats of violence and to preserve and protect public order and safety and to prevent damage even if, absent such conduct, the activities complained of would constitute unfair labor practices or protected activities over which the National Labor Relations Board would have jurisdiction. 43 P.S. 206d; Altemose Construction Company v. Building and Construction Trades Council, 449 Pa. 194, 296 A.2d 504 (1972); San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236, 79 S.Ct. 773, 3 L.Ed.2d 775 (1959). State jurisdiction has prevailed in such instances because the compelling state interest, in the scheme of our federalism, in the maintenance of domestic peace is not overridden in the absence of clearly expressed ...