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GRUPP EX REL. NLRB v. USW & ITS LOCAL 9051

February 16, 1982

Edward A. GRUPP, Acting Regional Director for Region Six of the National Labor Relations Board, for and on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA and its Local 9051, AFL-CIO-CLC, Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

OPINION AND ORDER

 1. FACTS AND DISCUSSION

 This petition for injunctive relief arises out of a labor dispute that began in the summer of 1980. At that time the United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC, (International) was conducting an organizing campaign at the North East Pennsylvania Plant of RUR Industries. As a result of this campaign a representation election was held at this plant under the supervision of the National Labor Relations Board. In this election the employees of RUR's North East facility narrowly voted to adopt the International as their exclusive bargaining representative. On October 31, 1980, the United Steelworkers of America was certified by the Board as the bargaining representative for these employees. Following its certification the International chartered Local 9051 to represent the employees comprising this bargaining unit at the RUR North East Plant.

 In the spring of 1981 the Union and management entered into negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement covering these employees. Talks soon reached an impasse, however, and in April the Union established midnight May 31, 1981 as the deadline for negotiations. No result having been reached by that deadline, Local 9051, with the authorization of the International, voted to strike the North East Plant.

 From the outset the strike was marked by violence. Throughout the summer of 1981 there were numerous incidents of violence and intimidation on the picket line. Non-striking employees were threatened; access to the plant was blocked; property was damaged; and individuals were injured. On several occasions officers of Local 9051 and representatives of the International were present when these incidents occurred. Moreover throughout this period the International continued to pay strike benefits to the members of Local 9051. The International also provided funds for legal representation of some members of Local 9051 who were charged criminally on matters arising out of alleged acts of picket line misconduct.

 RUR, through its attorneys, petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County for an injunction prohibiting the Unions and their members from engaging in picket line violence. On June 4, 1981, the parties entered into a consent decree. In this consent decree the Unions were enjoined from blocking ingress and egress to RUR's plant; engaging in violence or threats of violence on the picket lines; threatening non-striking employees or engaging in any other unlawful acts.

 As violence continued at the RUR plant through the summer and fall of 1981 attorneys for the company returned to the Court of Common Pleas on several occasions seeking contempt citations against the Union and its members. On each occasion the court refused to issue such a citation, choosing instead to order the parties to proceed with bargaining.

 On or about September 11, 1981, RUR Industries filed with the National Labor Relations Board an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC (International), had engaged in and was engaging in unfair labor practices within the meaning of § 8(b)(1)(A) of the Act. One month later on October 15, 1981, RUR amended its unfair labor practice charge to add United Steelworkers of America Local 9051 as a party-respondent. These charges were referred to the Regional Director of the Sixth Region of the Board. On or about October 30, 1981 the general counsel of the Board issued a complaint and notice of hearing pursuant to § 10(b) of the Act, alleging that respondents had engaged in, and were engaging in, unfair labor practices within the meaning of § 8(b)(1)(A) of the Act. On or about December 21, 1981 an amended complaint was issued by the Board. A hearing on these complaints was conducted before an Administrative Law Judge on February 2, 1982.

 During the pendency of these proceedings sporadic acts of violence continued to occur on the picket line. Through November and December of 1981 and into January of 1982 nails were frequently found in the driveway leading to the RUR plant. On several occasions during this period picketers blocked access into and out of the plant. In addition at this time individuals entering and leaving the plant itself were threatened by picketers. Objects, including snowballs, bricks and burning sticks, were thrown at RUR property. As recently as December 28, 1981 a security guard employed by RUR Industries was injured by an ice ball, allegedly thrown by a picketer.

 These continued acts of violence and intimidation led to the instant petition by the National Labor Relations Board to enjoin all picket line misconduct pending resolution of the unfair labor practice charges now before the Board.

 In this case the NLRB is proceeding pursuant to § 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 160(j). This section provides that: "The board shall have power, upon issuance of a complaint as provided in subsection b charging that any person has engaged in or is engaging in an unfair labor practice, to petition any United States District Court, within any district wherein the unfair labor practice in question is alleged to have occurred, or wherein such person resides or transacts business for appropriate temporary relief or restraining order."

 For such a petition to be granted and an injunction to issue the court must determine both: (1) that there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondents have violated the Act; and (2) that injunctive relief is just and proper in the circumstances presented. See, Eisenberg v. Wellington Hall Nursing Home, Inc., 651 F.2d 902 (3d Cir. 1981); Eisenberg v. Hartz Mountain Corporation, 519 F.2d 138 (3d Cir. 1975).

 Turning initially to the question of reasonable cause, in making this determination we recognize that the Board need not conclusively prove that the actions of the respondents violate the National Labor Relations Act. The standard of proof employed in these cases merely requires that the Board demonstrate some reasonable cause to believe that the respondents are involved in violations of the Act. This standard has, quite ...


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