25 Cal.2d 721, 17015, James v. Marinship Corp.

Docket Nº:17015
Citation:25 Cal.2d 721, 155 P.2d 329
Opinion Judge:[11] Gibson
Party Name:James v. Marinship Corp.
Attorney:[7] Thelen, Marrin, Johnson & Bridges, Charles J. Janigian and George M. Naus for Appellants. [8] Joseph A. Padway, Herbert S. Thatcher and Clarence E. Todd as Amici Curiae on behalf of Appellants. [9] Andersen & Resner, George R. Andersen, Herbert Resner and Thurgood Marshall for Respondent. [10...
Case Date:December 30, 1944
Court:Supreme Court of California

Page 721

25 Cal.2d 721

155 P.2d 329

JOSEPH JAMES, Respondent,


MARINSHIP CORPORATION (a Corporation) et al., Appellants.

S. F. No. 17015.

Supreme Court of California

Dec. 30, 1944

In Bank.

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[155 P.2d 330] COUNSEL

[155 P.2d 331] Thelen, Marrin, Johnson &amp Bridges, Charles J. Janigian and George M. Naus for Appellants. Joseph A. Padway, Herbert S. Thatcher and Clarence E. Todd as Amici Curiae on behalf of Appellants. Andersen &amp Resner, George R. Andersen, Herbert Resner and Thurgood Marshall for Respondent. Katz, Gallagher &amp Margolis, Ben Margolis, John T. McTernan, Arthur Garfield Hays, Osmond K. Fraenkel, Nathan Greene, Stanley Fleischman, Theodore Stuart, Wayne M. Collins, Herbert Ganahl, Thomas L. Griffith, Jr., Morris M. Grupp, Carey McWilliams, Loren Miller, George G. Olshausen, Clarence E. Rust, Clore Warne and A. L. Wirin, as Amici Curiae on behalf of Respondent


[155 P.2d 332] GIBSON, C.J.

This is an appeal from an order of the Superior Court in Marin County awarding a preliminary injunction which, among other things, restrained defendants from discharging or causing the discharge of plaintiff and

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other Negro employees because they are not members of a labor union with which their employer has a closed shop agreement, but which will not grant Negroes full membership privileges. The basic question presented is whether a closed shop may be enforced by a labor union together with an arbitrarily closed or partially closed union membership.

Plaintiff, Joseph James, is a citizen of the United States, a resident of California, a member of the Negro race, and an employee of defendant Marinship Corporation. He brought this action on his own behalf and on behalf of approximately 1,000 other Negro workers similarly situated. The Negroes are skilled craftsmen in the shipbuilding trade, most of whom have been employed by Marinship for periods in excess of one year.

Defendant Marinship is a Nevada corporation which operates yards for the construction of ships at Sausalito in Marin County. The shipyards are owned by the United States and are operated by Marinship under contracts containing provisions that Marinship will not discriminate against any worker because of race, color, creed, or national origin.

The defendant International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America (hereinafter called the International Brotherhood) is an international labor union and an unincorporated association. Local Union No. 6 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America (hereinafter called Local No. 6) is a local union chartered by and affiliated with the International Brotherhood and does business in California. Certain officials of both the International Brotherhood and Local No. 6 are also named as defendants.

There is a written contract or "Master Agreement" in effect between Marinship and the International Brotherhood containing a provision for a closed shop. Under this agreement the International Brotherhood "dispatches" workers for employment at Marinship through the medium and agency of Local No. 6, and workers cannot be employed there in any craft over which the International Brotherhood claims jurisdiction unless they are members in good standing in a local union or auxiliary of the International Brotherhood.

Defendant unions do not admit Negroes to membership. In 1937, the establishment of separate Negro local lodges was authorized by the International Brotherhood, and by-laws

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therefor were adopted, effective as of January 1, 1938. For some time the unions dispatched Negro workers to employment without imposing any condition of union affiliation. Auxiliary A-41, one of such Negro lodges, was chartered on August 14, 1943, and defendants insisted that plaintiff and other Negro workers must join this local, pay initiation fees and dues, and remain members thereof in good standing in order to obtain work clearances for employment at Marinship. Upon their refusal to do so, the defendant unions threatened to cause their discharge, and defendant Marinship gave notice that it would discharge them within forty-eight hours unless they complied with the demand and obtained the necessary work clearances.

Plaintiff thereupon brought the presesnt action, setting forth the foregoing facts and further alleging, in substance, that Auxiliary A-41 was not a bona fide union local and did not offer equal privileges and benefits of union membership, but instead was used as a means of discriminating against Negro workers; that they were willing to become members of Local No. 6 on equal terms with other members; that the threatened action by Marinship would constitute a breach of the anti-discrimination provisions in Marinship's contracts with the Maritime Commission; and that it would be contrary to law and public policy and harmful to the war effort. Plaintiff finally alleges that the Negroes will suffer irreparable damage, that there is no speedy or adequate remedy at law, and that injunctive relief is necessary to prevent a multiplicity of suits.

Upon the verified complaint, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order and an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue pending trial. Thereafter, Marinship Corporation, Local No. 6 and the officers of Local No. 6, who were named as defendants, filed demurrers upon the grounds, among others, that the trial court had no jurisdiction of [155 P.2d 333] the subject of the action and that the complaint did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action. The record does not disclose that any pleadings were filed by the International Brotherhood or the officers thereof who were named as defendants or that they were served with process. Affidavits in opposition to issuance of a preliminary injunction were filed by William E. Walter, international secretary-treasurer of the International Brotherhood,

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by E. Medley, president of Local No. 6, and by Robert Digges, administrative manager of Marinship.

It is asserted in the Medley affidavit, among other things, that Local No. 6 does not supervise the affairs of Auxiliary A-41 except as provided in the By-laws Governing Auxiliary Lodges; that business agents of Local No. 6 act impartially and with equal zeal for members of both locals; that there has been no discrimination with respect to employment opportunities; that many Negroes have advanced from the rank of helpers to that of trainees and journeymen and that some have become leadermen; and that Marinship and Local No. 6 have, whenever possible, assisted Negroes to advance.

The affidavit of Marinship states that in 1941 the "Master Agreement" was executed by the management of practically every shipyard on the Pacific Coast and by the Metal Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor and by a number of unions affiliated with said department, including the defendant International Brotherhood; that under the contract no worker, regardless of race or color, can obtain, or continue in, employment unless he obtains a clearance card from the appropriate union; that Marinship does not look behind a notice from the union that an employee is no longer in good standing with the union; that the company is aware of a controversy between the union and the Negro employees, but since the controversy involves the internal affairs of the union it has refrained from taking a position one way or the other; that it has received notices from the union that certain Negroes are not members in good standing, which notices it has accepted at face value; and that it "has performed its obligations under the union shop clause of the Master Agreement in the case of the Negroes as it has in the case of white men." The affidavit further states that Negroes employed by Marinship "work under the terms of the Master Agreement and are paid the same wages, work the same hours, and are employed under the same working conditions as all other workers, irrespective of race, creed, color or national origin."

On February 17, 1944, the trial court issued a preliminary injunction which restrained Local No. 6, its officers and agents, and Marinship Corporation, but did not restrain the International Brotherhood or its officials. The order recites that the actions of the union in discriminating against and segregating

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Negroes into auxiliary unions are contrary to the public policy of the State of California and that the closed shop provision of the Master Agreement "is void as applied to the plaintiffs in this case, and others similarly situated." It restrained Local No. 6 and its officers and agents (1) from compelling the Negroes to join or pay initiation fees, dues, or other moneys to Auxiliary A-41 or other subsidiary or auxiliary union or organization of the International Brotherhood; (2) from compelling, inducing, or requesting Marinship to discharge or refuse to employ the Negroes because of their refusal to become or remain members or pay dues; (3) from preventing employment at Marinship of the Negroes because of their nonmembership or refusal to pay dues; (4) from "refusing to admit into membership in said Local 6 on the same terms and conditions as white persons, or refusing to accept tendered initiation fees and dues to said Local 6 from, plaintiff and other Negro workers similarly situated"; (5) from refusing to give work clearances to Negroes who fail to join or pay dues; and (6) from attempting to enforce the By-laws Governing Auxiliary Lodges of the International Brotherhood. The order restrained Marinship Corporation from discharging or refusing to employ the Negroes because they did not have work clearances from or were not members of the International Brotherhood, Local No. 6 thereof, or...

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