No. 1522 April Term, 1978, No. 1523 April Term, 1978, Appeal from the Decree of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, In Equity, at Nos. 45 April Term, 1973 and 2105 April Term, 1973.
Robert L. Ceisler, Washington, for appellants.
Richard Thomas, Pittsburgh, for appellee.
Price, Brosky and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 281 Pa. Super. Page 79]
The appeal in this equity case arises from a Final Decree denying the requests of the numerous Plaintiffs-Appellants for injunctive relief and damages. The Appellants are former employees of the Defendant-Appellee, Duquesne Brewing Company of Pittsburgh (hereinafter referred to as "Duquesne"). The Appellants lost their jobs when Duquesne closed its only facility in 1972. They contended that their termination of employment was in violation of certain employment contracts which each had, with Duquesne, purportedly guaranteeing "lifetime" employment. Following lengthy hearings, the Chancellor*fn1 made extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law, and refused the request for
[ 281 Pa. Super. Page 80]
injunctive relief and damages asserted by the Appellants. The Chancellor's Decree Nisi was made final by the lower court en banc, which dismissed exceptions filed by both Appellants and Appellee.*fn2
The record shows that prior to December, 1972, the Appellee owned and operated a brewery in Pittsburgh which produced malt beverages. Various employees of the Appellee were represented by labor organizations for purposes of collective bargaining. All of the Appellants, who were employees in Duquesne's Delivery Department, were represented by Local Union No. 67 of the International Union of Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers of America, AFL-CIO (hereinafter referred to as the "Union").
Prior to 1957, the Union had negotiated successive collective bargaining agreements containing a provision, commonly called the "freeze" by the parties, which required Duquesne to maintain a complement of employees in the Delivery Department at least as large as the number employed on the date when the "freeze" provision had been first inserted into a labor agreement between the parties. In negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement in 1957, the parties*fn3 discussed the termination of the "freeze" provision. It was resolved that in return for the elimination of the freeze, each of the incumbent Delivery Department employees would be given so-called "lifetime" contracts. At the request of the Union, it was agreed that the "lifetime" agreements would be set forth in individual contracts between
[ 281 Pa. Super. Page 81]
the employer and each individual employee, rather than be included as a provision in the collective bargaining agreement.
The individual lifetime contracts were all identical, but for the name of the individual employee who was a party to each, and ...