Chavez v. Sargent

Decision Date19 May 1959
Citation339 P.2d 801,52 Cal.2d 162
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 44 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2134, 37 Lab.Cas. P 65,476 Ted CHAVEZ, Appellant, v. O. E. SARGENT et al., Respondents. S. F. 19863

Garvin W. Hale, San Jose, for appellant.

Severson, Davis & Larson, Nathan R. Berke and George Brunn, San Francisco, amici curiae for appellant.

Morgan & Beauzay, Robert Morgan, San Jose, and Louis Sherman, Washington, D.C., for respondents.

Charles P. Scully, Victor Van Bourg, Gladstein, Anderson, Leonard & Sibbett and Norman Leonard, San Francisco, amici curiae for respondents.

SCHAUER, Justice.

Plaintiff appeals from a judgment of dismissal entered after a general demurrer to his complaint was sustained and he had declined to amend. By the complaint an employer seeks injunctive relief from activities of defendants, a labor union and its secretary, designed to induce plaintiff to enter in a union shop agreement with defendant union. Both plaintiff and a majority of his employes desire such an agreement; i. e., neither plaintiff nor defendants with to force a union shop upon a group of employes whose majority do not freely choose it. But defendants' activities are, and the execution of the contract which such activities are intended to effect would be, contrary to the provisions of a San Benito County 'right-to-work' ordinance.

The controlling issues, it will develop, are (1) whether the state by valid law has occupied the field so comprehensively that the ordinance cannot stand, and (2) whether the complaint states a cause of action under state law. To resolve these issues confidently requires examination of the state's statutory law concerning not only the relations between labor and management, as such, but also that which regulates relationships and activities between competing labor organizations and between those organizations and their own members, and the members of other organizations, and unorganized workmen, and the rights, if any, of the individual workmen to participate in the selection of their bargaining agents and in the determination of objectives of collective negotiations and ultimate terms of agreement. The statutory law must be interpreted in the light of the earlier decisions of this court as they, in turn, have been affected by developing law, both statutory and decisional.

By way of circumscription, however, and to preclude misapprehension as to the import of our discussion or holdings, we note that this litigation presents no occasion to, and we do not, consider or undertake to define the extent to which, as between any willing employer and any willing union, the Legislature can validly regulate their respective basic freedoms to voluntarily contract for the services and remunerations of workmen and for other basically lawful objectives of the contracting parties.

We have concluded that: (1) There is no cause of action under the ordinance, for such ordinance is invalid because it contains unserverable provisions which conflict with both the legislatively declared general labor policy of this state and certain specific implementations thereof. (2) No cause of action under the general law of this state is or can be stated because it affirmatively appears that plaintiff and defendants propose to execute a mutually desired, lawful, collective union security agreement arrived at by means which accord with and fully recognize the rights of plaintiff's individual workmen to organize and to participate in the selection of their bargaining agents for the negotiation of such agreement free from employer interference, all in accord with the overriding state policy declared in Labor Code section 923 and implementing statutes hereinafter quoted.

The complaint alleges the enactment and terms of the subject ordinance (No. 201). Its provisions are quoted or summarized in the margin. 1 The further substance of the complaint is by no means a model of certainty or clarity. However, the facts directly or inferentially alleged were summarized in the opinion prepared by Presiding Justice Peters (now an associate justice of this court) for the District Court of Appeal before transfer of the cause to this court and as neither party suggests any error in such summary we adopt it (with interpolations of certain further details averred in the complaint) as a correct summary of the pleading. (329 P.2d 579)

( ) 2 The complaint alleges that the plaintiff, Ted Chavez, is a painting contractor doing commercial and residential painting in Santa Clara and San Benito Counties; that a majority of his employees are members of (defendant Painters and Decorators Local Union 1157 AFL-CIO) ( ); that (defendant) Sargent is the secretary of that union, and that such union is the only painters' union in San Benito County; that the defendants demand that plaintiff sign a union contract similar to the one that he has in Santa Clara County with the painters' union there, providing ('as permitted by the NLRA (Taft-Hartley)') for union membership after 30 days of employment; that the union members in San Benito County are conspiring to compel the nonunion painters to join the union, and refuse to work with nonunion painters; that these acts are in violation of the ordinance; that plaintiff 'wishes to sign a union security contract but is subject to a suit for damages' under the ordinance if he does so. ('That plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm unless the injunction authorized by Ordinance 201 is issued.') Plaintiff therefore prayed for a temporary and permanent injunction compelling the defendant union 'to desist from their demands for any type of union security in San Benito County and compelling them to work with non-union building trades employees.' ( ) (And as a conclusional summation of the pleading the subject opinion states:) In the instant case the employees want a union shop agreement and the employer wants a union shop agreement, but both are prevented from entering into such a voluntary agreement by the terms of the ordinance. ( )

Defendants argue that by the Taft-Hartley Act (Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 136, as amended; 29 U.S.C.A. § 141 et seq.) the federal government has preempted the field of labor relations in which this complaint seeks state court relief. Since the pleading does not suggest that the problems arising from defendants' attempt to unionize plaintiff's San Benito County contracting business have any relation to interstate commerce, we cannot assume that the national act has taken hold of the conduct here involved. See International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union etc. v. Vogt, Inc. (1957), 354 U.S. 284, 294, 77 S.Ct. 1166, 1 L.Ed.2d 1347; Thorman v. International Alliance etc. Employees (1958), 49 Cal.2d 629, 632-633(3, 4), 320 P.2d 494.) Therefore, we need not be concerned, in our ensuing discussion of state law, with any possibility that such law, on the facts of this case, might conflict with the federal law.

The power of San Benito County (not a chartered county) in respect to this ordinance is defined by section 11 of article XI of the California Constitution, which provides that 'Any county, city, town or township may make and enforce within its limits all such local, police, sanitary and other regulations as are not in conflict with general laws.' Even in matters of statewide concern (see In re Portnoy (1942), 21 Cal.2d 237, 239(1), 131 P.2d 1; Mann v. Scott (1919), 180 Cal. 550, 556, 182 P. 281), the city or county has police power equal to that of the state so long as the local regulations do not conflict with general laws. (McKay Jewelers, Inc. v. Bowron (1942), 19 Cal.2d 595, 600(3), 122 P.2d 543, 139 A.L.R. 1188; In re Iverson (1926), 199 Cal. 582, 585(1), 586(3, 4), 250 P. 681; Jardine v. City of Pasadena (1926), 199 Cal. 64, 68(1), 71(3), 248 P. 225, 48 A.L.R. 509.)

California's leading case on the pertinent subject states the law as follows: '(4) * * * 'Where the legislature has assumed to regulate a given course of conduct by prohibitory enactments, a municipality with subordinate power to act in the matter may make such new and additional regulations in aid and furtherance of the purpose of the general law as may seem fit and appropriate to the necessities of the particular locality and which are not in themselves unreasonable.' (Citation.) The cases in this state have consistently upheld local regulations in the form of additional reasonable requirements not in conflict with the provisions of the general law. (Citations.)

'(5) This general rule permitting the adoption of additional local regulations supplementary to the state statutes is subject to an exception, however * * * Regardless of whether there is any actual grammatical conflict between an ordinance and a statute, the ordinance is invalid if it attempts to impose additional requirements in a field which is fully occupied by the statute. Thus, * * * an ordinance which is substantially identical with a state statute is invalid because it is an attempt to duplicate the prohibition of the statute. (Citations.) * * * The invalidity arises, not from a conflict of language, but from the inevitable conflict of jurisdiction which would result from dual regulations covering the same ground. Only by such a broad definition of 'conflict' is it possible to confine local legislation to its proper field of supplementary regulation.' (Pipoly v. Benson

(1942), 20 Cal.2d 366, 370-371, 125 P.2d 482, 147 A.L.R. 515.) 3

A further pertinent principle is: 'Where the Legislature has adopted statutes governing a particular subject matter, its intent with regard to occupying the field to the exclusion of all local regulation is not to be measured alone by the language used but by the whole purpose and scope of the legislative scheme. (Citations.)' (Tolman v. Underhill (1952), 39 Cal.2d 708, 712(6), 249 P.2d 280.)

State regulation of a subject may be so complete and detailed as to indicate an intent to preclude local regulation. (...

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