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Philadelphia Marine Trade Association v. Local 1291

argued: April 2, 1990.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Camden); D.C. Civil No. 89-03279.

Mansmann, Scirica, and Seitz, Circuit Judges.

Author: Seitz


SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff, Philadelphia Marine Trade Association (PMTA), appeals the denial of its application for a preliminary injunction which it sought under section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185 (1988). The defendants are Local 1291, International Longshoremen's Association; its president, Joseph Hill; and its business agent, Warren Anderson. Plaintiff sought to have barred a strike that it alleged was in violation of the "no-strike" clause of the collective bargaining agreement between plaintiff and Local 1291. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a) (1988).


Plaintiff is a multi-employer bargaining association, which has negotiated collective bargaining agreements with the International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO (ILA), on behalf of its members. Plaintiff and Local 1291, a chartered local of the ILA, entered into a collective bargaining agreement for the term October 1, 1986, to September 30, 1989, which was extended by the parties until November 30, 1990. The contract contains a broad grievance and arbitration clause and a no-strike provision.*fn1 Defendants do not dispute the existence of the agreement or that those clauses are binding on them.*fn2

Southern Stevedoring Company (Southern), a subsidiary of Del Monte Tropical Fruit Company and a member of PMTA, entered into an additional memorandum of agreement with Local 1291 covering working conditions at Southern's facilities at Pier 5 in Camden, New Jersey. In accordance with the provisions of this agreement, Southern selected three "house" or regular gangs from the union to perform the stevedoring at Pier 5.

On August 7, 1989, when Southern was scheduled to unload a cargo of perishable fruit, approximately 20 to 25 members of Local 1291 picketed the entrance to the terminal. It is undisputed that they did so because they were unhappy with the process for selecting house gangs. Although the president of Local 1291 asked the picketers to "rescind their pickets," they refused to do so.

Plaintiff then filed this action in the district court, seeking a temporary restraining order enjoining defendants and any individual represented by Local 1291 from violating the no-strike provision of the collective bargaining agreement. The complaint also sought submission of the dispute to arbitration. The court issued a TRO without opposition and granted a rule to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue. When the picketing continued, the court, on plaintiff's motion, issued a contempt order. Picketing ceased at that time and discharging operations began at approximately 6:30 p.m. on August 7.

The district court conducted a hearing on August 17, 1989, at which one of the picketers testified regarding the reason for the picketing.*fn3 Thereafter, it found, and plaintiff does not dispute, that the August 7 picketing occurred without the union's formal authorization and therefore constituted a "wildcat" strike. The court further concluded that the union or its officials were not otherwise responsible for the unauthorized picketing. It therefore denied the preliminary injunction. This appeal followed.


Appellate review of a district court's denial of a preliminary injunction is limited to determining whether the court abused its discretion, committed an obvious error in applying the law, or made a clear mistake in considering the proof. Instant Air Freight Co. v. C.F. Air Freight, Inc., 882 F.2d 797, 799 (3d Cir. 1989). Where, as here, the essential findings of fact are conceded or are undisputed and the district court's decision rests on an interpretation of the law rather than on the facts, our review is broader.*fn4

Plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction under section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act. The standard for injunctive relief against picketing in a labor dispute was announced by the Supreme Court in Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks Union, Local 770, 398 U.S. 235, 26 L. Ed. 2d 199, 90 S. Ct. 1583 (1970), which held that section 301 authorizes injunctions against strikes in violation of contracts that call for arbitration of the underlying grievances. Boys Markets represents an effort to accommodate the prohibition against labor injunctions by federal courts contained in section 4 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 104 (1988),*fn5 and the subsequently ...

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