16 Cal.2d 379, 16200, Shafer v. Registered Pharmacists Union

Docket Nº:16200
Citation:16 Cal.2d 379, 106 P.2d 403
Opinion Judge:[9] Edmonds
Party Name:Shafer v. Registered Pharmacists Union
Attorney:[7] James F. Galliano for Appellants. [8] Carleton L. Rank for Respondent.
Case Date:October 14, 1940
Court:Supreme Court of California
 
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Page 379

16 Cal.2d 379

106 P.2d 403

THOMAS GUY SHAFER, Respondent,

v.

REGISTERED PHARMACISTS UNION LOCAL 1172 et al., Appellants.

S. F. No. 16200.

Supreme Court of California

October 14, 1940

In Bank.

Page 380

COUNSEL

James F. Galliano for Appellants. Carleton L. Rank for Respondent

OPINION

[106 P.2d 404] EDMONDS, J.

By this appeal the defendants, Registered Pharmacists Union Local 1172, its president and its business agent, challenge a decree permanently enjoining them from picketing and boycotting the plaintiff's places of business. The determinative question in the case is whether closed union shop agreements have been rendered unlawful in this state by virtue of the enactment of sections 920, 921, and 923 of the Labor Code.

Page 381

The facts were presented to the trial court upon an agreed statement and are undisputed.

The respondent operates a small chain of retail drug stores in Oakland, California, doing business under the name of "Guy's Drug Stores." In 1937, he entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the union with respect to fourteen pharmacists and assistant pharmacists in his employ. This contract, which by its terms was to continue in force for one year, provided, among other things, that the pharmacists then employed, or thereafter hired by him, should apply for membership in the union. The union in turn agreed to take the respondent's then employees into its membership, and in good faith to consider and pass upon the membership qualifications of future applicants in the regular manner and according to the usual standards required by it in admitting new members. The parties are agreed that the effect of their contract was to require the employer to retain only union- member pharmacists in employment and to recognize the defendant union as the sole collective bargaining agent of the employees who were subject to it.

At the end of the year the respondent refused to renew the agreement unless the closed shop provisions were deleted, although other drug store owners representing a substantial portion of the retail drug industry in that locality entered into and renewed similar agreements with the defendant union. Thereupon, the union declared a strike against him and started picketing his stores. All of his pharmacists responded to the strike call except three executives, who had not been subject to the agreement, and one non-executive employee who subsequently resigned from the union. The picketing was in every respect [106 P.2d 405] peaceful. The respondent suffered substantial and irreparable injury to his business as a result of the defendants' acts.

From these facts the trial court found in effect that the union's object was to force the employer to execute a closed union shop agreement obligating him to require his pharmacist employees, present and prospective, (1) to designate the union as their collective bargaining agent and (2) to become and remain members of the union as a condition of employment. The court concluded that such an object was unlawful and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the appellants, in

Page 382

broadest terms, from picketing or boycotting the respondent's places of business.

In the absence of any controlling statutory provisions, the activities of the appellants may not be enjoined under the circumstances stated. It is established in this state that peaceful picketing is a lawful form of concerted action by the members of a labor union (Lisse v. Local Union, 2 Cal.2d 312 [41 P.2d 314]; In re Lyons, 27 Cal.App.2d 293 [81 P.2d 190]), and it was long ago held by this court that the securing of a closed shop contract with an employer is as proper an object of concerted action by employees, as is the attainment of higher wages, shorter hours of labor or better working conditions (Parkinson Co. v. Building Trades Council, 154 Cal. 581 [16 Ann. Cas. 1165, 21 L.R.A. (N. S.) 550]). However, the employer successfully contended in the trial court that by the enactment of sections 920, 921 and 923 of the California Labor Code the legislature outlawed closed shop contracts. The correctness of that conclusion is the question decisive of this appeal.

The Labor Code provides: "Every promise [as defined by section 920] made after August 21, 1933, between any employee or prospective employee and his employer, prospective employer or any other person is contrary to public policy if either party thereto promises any of the following: (a) To join or to remain a member of a labor organization or to join or remain a member of an employer organization. (b) Not to join or not to remain a member of a labor organization or of an employer organization. (c) To withdraw from an employment relation in the event that he joins or remains a member of a labor organization or of an employer organization." Such a promise, the section continues, "shall not afford any basis for the granting of legal or equitable relief by any court against a party to such promise, or against any other persons who advise, urge, or induce, without fraud or violence or threat thereof, either party thereto to act in disregard of such promise." (Sec. 921.)

In this legislation the state's public policy with regard to labor organizations was stated as follows: "Negotiation of terms and conditions of labor should result from voluntary agreement between employer and employees. Governmental authority has permitted and encouraged employers to organize in the corporate and other forms of capital control. In dealing

Page 383

with such employers, the individual unorganized worker is helpless to exercise actual liberty of contract and to protect his freedom of labor, and thereby to obtain acceptable terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, it is necessary that the individual workman have full freedom of association, self-organization and designation of representatives of his own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of his employment, and that he shall be free from the interference, restraint or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self- organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection." (Sec. 923.)

Concerning these provisions the respondent argues that a closed union shop contract violates the terms of section 923 in that it deprives the individual employee of his right of "freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of his own choosing" guaranteed by that section. Moreover, it is said, such a contract also violates section 921 because its effect is to require an individual employee "to join" and "to remain a member of a labor organization". On the other hand, the appellants contend that these measures were drafted and proposed at the instance of organized labor for the purpose of extending and safeguarding the principle of collective bargaining, and considering their history and background, they should not be interpreted contrary to the principle they were designed to promote.

It is a well-settled rule of statutory interpretation that courts may and should have recourse to available extrinsic [106 P.2d 406] aids in order to discover the meaning and purpose of legislation (Story v. Richardson, 186 Cal. 162 [18 A.L.R. 750]; Mundell v. Lyons, 182 Cal. 289 ). Also, in enforcing the command of a statute, both the policy expressed in...

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