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PHK-P v. UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION (01/05/89)

filed: January 5, 1989.

PHK-P, INC., D/B/A CLEARVIEW MALL FOOD ARENA
v.
UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL 23, APPELLANT. PPH-K, INC., D/B/A ALAMEDA FOOD ARENA V. UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION, LOCAL 23, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order entered December 11, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Division, at No. EQ 87-039 B. 25, P.61. Appeal from the Order entered December 11, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, Civil Division, at No. 87-038 B.25, P.60.

COUNSEL

Andrew J. Leger, Pittsburgh, for appellant (at 39 and 97).

Daniel W. Cooper, Pittsburgh, for appellees (at 39 and 97).

Cavanaugh, Tamilia and Hoffman, JJ. Tamilia, J., files a concurring statement. Cavanaugh, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Hoffman

[ 381 Pa. Super. Page 546]

These are consolidated appeals from orders granting preliminary injunctions enjoining appellant union from conducting rallies upon or near appellees' premises and limiting the number of informational pickets to no more than six at any one time at or on the premises of appellees' stores. Appellant contends that the lower court erroneously issued injunctions by failing to comply with the strict requirements of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, 43 Pa.S.A. § 206a et seq., and alleges that it is entitled to its legal costs and reasonable attorney fees. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the orders of the lower court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Appellees are corporations that own and operate two supermarket facilities within two separate Butler County shopping complexes. Both stores exclusively employ only non-union personnel. Since September 8, 1987, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 23, has conducted informational picketing at the entrance of the stores by placing four pickets at each location. The union established the picket lines for the purpose of alerting the public to appellees' non-union policies. On December 7, 1987, the union posted and circulated a flyer advertising that rallies would be held on the premises of both markets on December 12, 1987. In response, appellees filed a complaint in equity seeking to enjoin the rallies and requesting that the court restrict the number of pickets on each line to no more than six persons. Following a hearing, the court issued an order enjoining the proposed rallies from being conducted

[ 381 Pa. Super. Page 547]

    and limiting the number of pickets to no more than six per store. This appeal followed.

Appellant contends that because the lower court failed to follow the requirements of the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, the injunction was improvidently granted. Appellant argues that at the hearing below, appellees did not produce any evidence that would fulfill the requirements for issuance of an injunction under the Act. Appellant further alleges that because the court failed to comply with the requirements of the Act, the court lacked the statutory basis to issue the injunction. We agree.

The standard of review of an order denying or granting a preliminary injunction is well-established. The focus of this Court's review is to examine the record to determine if reasonable grounds existed for the court's action below. Coatesville Development Company v. United Food Workers, 374 Pa. Super. 330, 337, 542 A.2d 1380, 1384 (1988) (en banc). A preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy and in order to sustain a preliminary injunction, it must be shown that the plaintiff has established a clear right to the relief sought. Soja v. Factoryville Sportsmen's Club, 361 Pa. Super. 473, 479, 522 A.2d 1129, 1131 (1987). "Only if it is plain that no grounds exist to support the decree or that the rule of law relied upon was misapplied will we interfere with the decision of the chancellor." Coatesville Development Company v. United Food Workers, 374 Pa. Super. at 337, 542 A.2d at 1384 (citations omitted).

At the outset we note that labor picketing, when free from coercion, intimidation, and violence, has been recognized as a form of assembly and free speech, and has been afforded the protection of both the Federal, and State Constitutions. See U.S. Const.Amend. I, and PA. Const. art. I, § 7. See also Frankel-Warwick Ltd. v. Local 274, 334 Pa. Super. 47, 51, 482 A.2d 1073, 1075 (1984); Consolidation Coal Company v. District 5, United Mine Workers of America, 336 Pa. Super. 354, 372, 485 A.2d 1118, 1127 (1984). To establish a picket line and to encourage the public to honor and participate in it is a lawful exercise of

[ 381 Pa. Super. Page 548]

    one's first amendment rights. Solvent Machinery v. Teamsters Local No. 115, 343 Pa. Super. 505, 508 n. 1, 495 A.2d 579, 580 n. 1 (1985).

In accordance with the foregoing principles, the Labor Anti-Injunction Act, a comprehensive body of law, was enacted by the Pennsylvania Legislature for the purpose of establishing a blanket of protection for the unorganized laborer against the chilling effects of the corporate world. 43 Pa.S.A. § 206b. In order to facilitate work environments "free from the interference, restraint or coercion of employers of labor", the legislature placed limitations on the jurisdiction of the courts to grant injunctive relief in matters involving labor disputes. 43 Pa.S.A. § 206a; See also Locust Club v. Hotel & Club Employees' Union, 397 Pa. 357, 360, 155 A.2d 27, 29 (1959). Section 206d of the Act provides in relevant part:

No court of this Commonwealth shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in a case included within this act, except in strict conformity with the provisions of this act, nor shall any such restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction be issued contrary to the public policy declared in this act.

43 Pa.S.A. § 206d (emphasis added). Thus, the Act is deeply rooted in principles of public policy favoring an employee's right to "exercise actual liberty of contract and to protect his [or her] freedom of labor." 43 Pa.S.A. § 206a. See Locust Club v. Hotel & Club Employees Union, 397 Pa. at 360, 155 A.2d at 29.

The Act is applicable to situations that concern or grow out of labor disputes between persons engaged in a single industry, trade, craft, or occupation or who have direct or indirect interests therein. 43 Pa.S.A. § 206c. With limited exceptions, the Act provides that a court is without jurisdiction to enter a preliminary injunction enjoining picketing activity growing out of a labor dispute. The exceptions under which injunctive relief may be granted are set forth

[ 381 Pa. Super. Page 549]

    in Section 206i of the Act and provide that before issuing an injunction the court must find:

(a) That unlawful acts have been threatened and will be committed unless restrained, or have been committed and will be continued unless restrained, but no temporary or permanent injunction or temporary restraining order shall be issued on account of any threat or unlawful act, excepting against the person or persons, association or organization, making the threat or ...


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