Branham v. Miller Elec. Co., AFL-CIO

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Citation118 S.E.2d 167,237 S.C. 540,92 A.L.R.2d 592
Decision Date30 January 1961
Docket NumberAFL-CIO,No. 17739,17739
Parties, 92 A.L.R.2d 592 Jess W. BRANHAM, Appellant, v. MILLER ELECTRIC COMPANY and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers,, of which Miller Electric Company is, Respondent.

Page 167

118 S.E.2d 167
237 S.C. 540, 92 A.L.R.2d 592
Jess W. BRANHAM, Appellant,
MILLER ELECTRIC COMPANY and International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, of which Miller
Electric Company is, Respondent.
No. 17739.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Jan. 30, 1961.

[237 S.C. 541] Thomas C. Bradley, Jr., Columbia, for appellant.

Boyd, Bruton & Lumpkin, Charles W. Knowlton, Columbia, for respondent.

LEGGE, Justice.

This is an action for damages alleged to have resulted from unlawful termination of plaintiff's employment in violation of the South Carolina Right to Work Law (48 Stat. at L.1692). Plaintiff appeals from an order sustaining the defendant company's demurrer to the complaint.

The allegations of the complaint are, in substance, as follows:

In March, 1958, plaintiff, a member of the defendant union, was in the employ of the defendant company as a general foreman on a construction job in Lexington County. [237 S.C. 542] On March 24, the journeymen

Page 168

electricians employed by the defendant company walked off the job and refused to work during the rest of that day and for several days thereafter. Plaintiff did not join in the walkout at any time; but on the afternoon of March 24, being told by the superintendent, Mr. Winters, that there would be no pay for the rest of that day, plaintiff and the other foremen left the job. Early next morning plaintiff went to the project site for the purpose of going to work as usual; he found a large number of men milling around the entrance gate, and, after waiting near the gate for a short while, he realized that no one was working or going to work, and therefore returned to his home. On the evening of the following day, in response to a message from Mr. Baker, the defendant company's assistant superintendent, he telephoned Mr. Baker, who told him to see Mr. Jones, (the representative of the defendant union) and come back on the job. On the following day plaintiff went to see Mr. Jones at his headquarters in Columbia, but Mr. Jones refused to give him permission to return to the job, stating as his reason that plaintiff had engaged in the unauthorized walkout of March 24 and therefore was not in good standing with the union. Plaintiff then telephoned Superintendent Winters and informed him of Jones' refusal to approve his return to the job, whereupon Winters told plaintiff that they were doing all they could to get him back on the job, and that he, Winters, would see Jones about it. Later, plaintiff received a telephone call from Assistant Superintendent Baker to the effect that they hoped to be able to get him back on the job in a few days. Finally, on April 9, Superintendent Winters told plaintiff that he could not come back to work except with the union's approval. The defendant union has refused to approve him for employment because it considers him as not in good standing. The defendant company bases its refusal to permit him to return to work solely upon the ground that he has not been cleared through the defendant union. Plaintiff is informed and believes that the defendants [237 S.C. 543] have an agreement whereby membership in good standing in the defendant union is required as a condition to employment or continued employment by the defendant company. The action of the defendants in thus conditioning employment, or continuance of employment upon clearance through and referral by the defendant union is in violation of the Act of March 19, 1954 (48 Stat. at L. 1692); and as the result of such action the plaintiff has sustained damage.

The defendant union answered; and this appeal is concerned only with the defendant company's demurrer and the order of the circuit court sustaining it. The demurrer was for insufficiency, charging that the complaint, on its face:

1. Showed no violation of the Right to Work Law, because it affirmatively showed that the plaintiff had not been discharged from membership in the defendant union;

2. Affirmatively showed that plaintiff had participated in a strike or walkout and that the defendant company therefore had valid ground for discharging him;

3. Failed to show that the defendant company was obligated by contract or law to hire the plaintiff or to continue his employment;

4. Affirmatively showed that the controversy was one exclusively within the purview of the Federal Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 141 et seq., and without the jurisdiction of the state...

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13 cases
  • Master Builders of Iowa v. Polk County, 02-1005.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 14, 2002
    ...295, 359 S.W.2d 449, 453-54 (1962); Bldg. Trades Council v. Bonito, 71 Nev. 84, 280 P.2d 295, 297 (1955); Branham v. Miller Elec. Co., 237 S.C. 540, 118 S.E.2d 167, 170 (1961); Sheet Metal Workers Local No. 175 v. Walker, 236 S.W.2d 683, 685 (Tex.Civ.App.1951). Although there may be merit t......
  • Lewis v. Local 382, Intern. Broth. of Elec. Workers (AFL-CIO), AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • September 12, 1996
    ...of employment on the one hand; and (2) employer boycott of, or insistence upon, union labor on the other." Branham v. Miller Elec. Co., 237 S.C. 540, 546, 118 S.E.2d 167, 170 (1961) (company's freedom to hire and fire employee at its pleasure is subject to the limitation that neither the hi......
  • Chapman v. SOUTHEAST REGION ILGWU HEALTH & W. REC. F., Civ. A. No. 66-791 to 66-794.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 30, 1967
    ...contrary, the question has generally been whether there is federal exclusivity. In the earliest one, Branham v. Miller Electric Co. (1961) 237 S.C. 540, p. 548, 118 S.E.2d 167, p. 171, 92 A.L.R.2d 592, the Court "The issue of exclusive Federal jurisdiction, suggested by the fourth ground of......
  • Layne v. International Broth. of Elec. Workers, (AFL-CIO), Local No. 382, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • August 31, 1978
    ...312 F.Supp. 300 (D.S.C.1970); Kimbrell v. Jolog Sportswear, Inc., 239 S.C. 415, 123 S.E.2d 524 (1962); Brabham v. Miller Electric Co., 237 S.C. 540, 118 S.E.2d 167 (1961). Thus, in the present case, if the facts alleged, together with the inferences reasonably deducible therefrom, state con......
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