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Hirsch v. Dorsey Trailers

June 05, 1998

PETER W. HIRSCH, REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE FOURTH REGION OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, APPELLANT
v.
DORSEY TRAILERS, INC., NORTHUMBERLAND PA PLANT



Before: Sloviter, Greenberg and GIBSON,*fn2 Circuit Judges

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sloviter, Circuit Judge

*fn1 Amended per the Clerk's Order of 12/5/97

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 97-cv-00148)

Argued May 21, 1998

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant, Peter W. Hirsch, Director of Region Four, on behalf of the National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB" or "the Board"), appeals from the district court's order denying a temporary injunction under § 10(j) of the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA"), codified at 29 U.S.C. § 160(j). The injunction was sought pending the resolution by the NLRB of unfair labor practice charges against appellee Dorsey Trailers Inc. The district court concluded that a § 10(j) injunction would not be "just and proper," the statutory standard for an injunction under the NLRA. The Board timely appealed. The International Union of United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, Local 1868 ("UAW" or "the union"), which is the bargaining representative of the workers affected by the denial of injunctive relief, has filed a brief amicus curiae in support of the Board's appeal.

We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, 1292(a)(1) and 29 U.S.C. § 160(j). Our review of the denial of a § 10(j) injunction is for abuse of discretion, see Eisenberg v. Lenape Products, Inc., 781 F.2d 999, 1003 (3d Cir. 1986), and we have held we may reverse the denial of a § 10(j)

injunction if the factual findings do not "substantially relate to the Conclusion reached" by the district court. Kobell v. Suburban Lines, Inc., 731 F.2d 1076, 1092 (3d Cir. 1984).

I.

This appeal centers on the circumstances surrounding the December 1995 closure of a plant in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, that once employed 200 UAW workers who manufactured dump and flatbed trailers for Dorsey. The facts set forth below are taken from the record and, unless noted, are not in dispute, although the exact dates are not always clear. In February 1995, Dorsey and the UAW began negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) because the prior CBA was due to expire in March 1995. The primary issues concerned overtime and subcontracting. Dorsey warned that if no agreement could be reached or if the union were to strike, Dorsey would close the plant. App. at 47-49. Negotiations were conducted between February and May but the parties were unable to reach agreement on a new contract.

The union began a strike on June 26, 1995, to protest alleged unfair labor practices of Dorsey. App. at 50. On June 30, 1995, the union filed the first of four unfair labor practice charges against the employer. In September 1995, Dorsey began to negotiate for the purchase of a new plant in Cartersville, Georgia, and on October 5, 1995, reached a basic agreement in principle to purchase the plant. App. at 145-46. It had concluded that it would be to its financial benefit to operate the Georgia plant rather than the Northumberland facility. App. at 138-41. On October 9, 1995, Dorsey notified the union of its impending purchase and its intention to move the Northumberland work there. However, it also offered to continue to bargain over the "effects of that decision and the decision itself." App. at 189. Thereafter, the union unconditionally offered to come back to work but by then Dorsey was seeking substantial concessions. App. at 164. Further negotiations proved fruitless. Dorsey described the union's concessions on overtime as "too little too late." App. at 66; 177.

On November 9, 1995, Dorsey formally notified the union of its decision to close the Northumberland plant and move its operations to Georgia. At that time, Dorsey began moving the plant equipment. App. at 181. On November 16, 1995, the union filed the fourth of its unfair labor charges against Dorsey alleging that Dorsey improperly transferred work to the Georgia plant. The union asked the Board to seek temporary injunctive relief under § 10(j), but the Board did not act on the request at that time. Dorsey shut down the plant on December 29, 1995, and has attempted to sell it since then. App. at 252-53.

There was a lapse in Dorsey's operations resulting from the move, and it began its Georgia operations in March 1996. When it determined that it could not manufacture at the new plant all of the trucks that it had manufactured at Northumberland, Dorsey decided it would limit its Georgia plant to the manufacture of flatbed trailers. In July 1996 it purchased a South Carolina facility to build dump trailers, previously manufactured in Northumberland.

Dorsey estimates its total costs of moving the Northumberland operations to Georgia and South Carolina exceeded $900,000, app. at 197, and the costs of maintaining the closed Northumberland plant for the first six months of 1997 to be $130,000, app. at 198, ...


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