City Line Open Hearth, Inc. v. Hotel, Motel and Club Emp. Union Local No. 568, AFL-CIO

Decision Date21 January 1964
Citation197 A.2d 614,413 Pa. 420
CourtPennsylvania Supreme Court

Rehearing Denied March 2, 1964. [Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Edward Davis, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Arthur S. Keyser, Philadephia, for appellee.


BELL, Chief Justice.

This is an appeal by the defendant Union and its President from a Decree of the Court below which granted a preliminary injunction restraining the appellants from picketing the premises of the plaintiff-appellee.


On November 19, 1962. City Line Open Hearth, Inc., hereinafter referred to as City Line, opened a restaurant and cocktail lounge at 4444 City Line Avenue, Philadelphia. On January 16, 1963 City Line filed a Complaint in Equity asking for an injunction against the defendants-appellants, because of their coercive activities and their conduct which was characterized by threats and violence.

The coercion which City Line charged and proved constituted, inter alia, a violation of Section 6(2) of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act of June 1, 1937. [1] However, the lower Court overlooked the legally important fact that it would also have violated the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 [2] as amended. Section 8(b)(7)(C) of that Act pertinently provides:

'(b) It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents--* * *

'(7) to picket or cause to be picketed, or threaten to picket or cause to be picketed, any employer where an [3] object thereof is forcing or requiring an employer to recognize or bargain with a labor organization as the representative of his employees or forcing or requiring the employees of an employer to accept or select such labor organization as their collective bargaining representative, * * *.'

Following a hearing of the Complaint and a consideration of the evidence presented, Judge MILNER entered a preliminary injunction. Defendants immediately appealed on the ground that since the activities complained of by appellee were 'arguably' proscribed as unfair labor practices under Section 8(b) of the National Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, the National Labor Relations Board had exclusive jurisdiction in the matter.

Basis of Lower Court's Injunction

While finding that the picketing conducted by the defendants was characterized by what amounted to intimidating conduct, vandalism and violence, the lower Court granted a preliminary injunction on the grounds (1) that there had been no showing of federal jurisdiction [4] and (2) that the defendants were endeavoring to coerce the appellee to commit a violation of Section 6 of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act, supra, by forcing its employees to join the defendant Union. The Union challenges the first ground, and denies the applicability of the second ground. We shall consider the grounds in their inverse order.

Because of the misunderstood state of the law in this field, we shall analyze and review many cases at length, in an attempt to eliminate much of the existing confusion.

Jurisdiction and Power of State Courts Prior to the Taft-Hartley Act

Prior to the enactment of the National Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, frequently referred to as the Taft-Hartley Act, there was no doubt whatsoever as to the right of a State Court to restrain picketing which was in violation of State law, even if the picketing were peaceful: International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 695, A.F.L. v. Vogt, Inc., 354 U.S. 284, 77 S.Ct. 1166, 1 L.Ed.2d 1347 (1957); Building Service Emp. Intern Union Local 262 v. Gazzam, 339 U.S. 532, 70 S.Ct. 784, 94 L.Ed. 1045 (1950); Hughes v. Superior Court of California, 339 U.S. 460, 70 S.Ct. 718, 94 L.Ed. 985; Bakery & Pastry Drivers and Helpers Local 802 of International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. Wohl, 315 U.S. 769, 775, 62 S.Ct. 816, 86 L.Ed. 1178. Cf. also: Allen-Bradley Local No. 1111, United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America v. Wisconsin E. R. Board, 315 U.S. 740, 62 S.Ct. 820, 86 L.Ed. 1154. [5] International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 695 A.F.L. v. Vogt, Inc., 354 U.S. 284, 77 S.Ct. 1166, 1 L.Ed.2d 1347, supra, (1957) is well summarized in the syllabus:

'Respondent owns and operates a gravel pit in Wisconsin where it employs 15 to 20 men. Petitioner unions sought unsuccessfully to induce some of respondent's employees to join the unions and began picketing the entrance to respondent's gravel pit with signs reading, 'The men on this job are not 100% affiliated with the A.F.L.' As a result, drivers of several trucking companies refused to deliver and haul goods to and from respondent's plant, causing substantial damage to respondent. On respondent's application, a State Court enjoined the picketing. The injunction was sustained by the State Supreme Court on findings by it that (1) the picketing had been engaged in for the purpose of coercing respondent to force its employees to become members of petitioner unions, and (2) such picketing was for 'an unlawful purpose,' since Wis.Stat. § 111.06(2)(b) made it an unfair labor practice for an employee individually or in concert with others to 'coerce, intimidate or induce an employer to interfere with any of his employes in the enjoyment of their legal rights * * * or to engage in any practice with regard to his employes which would constitute an unfair labor practice if undertaken by him on his own initiative.' Held: The judgment is affirmed. * * *

'(a) Prior decisions of this Court have established a broad field in which a State, in enforcing some public policy, whether of its criminal or its civil law, and whether announced by its legislature or its courts, may constitutionally enjoin peaceful picketing aimed at preventing effectuation of that policy.

'(b) Comsistently with the Fourteenth Amendment, a State may enjoin peaceful picketing the purpose of which is to coerce an employer to put pressure on his employees to join a union in violation of the declared policy of the State. Pappas v. Stacey, 151 Me. 36, 116 A.2d 497, appeal dismissed 350 U.S. 870 [76 S.Ct. 117, 100 L.Ed. 770].

'270 Wis. 321a, 74 N.W.2d 749, affirmed.'

Recent Decisions re. Jurisdiction of N.L.R.B. and of State Courts

However, the more recent decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States which are hereinafter cited and quoted lay down and apply different rules or tests, without distinguishing or expressly overruling the aforesaid decisions.

In order to vest the National Labor Relations Board with exclusive jurisdiction and divest State Courts of Equity jurisdiction which they have possessed for a very long period of time, it is necessary, in this class of case, for the parties who claim that the N.L.R.B. has exclusive jurisdiction to prove, inter alia, (1) that the employer was engaged in interstate commerce or that its activities substantially [6] affect interstate commerce and (2) that the challenged activities were expressly or arguably within the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B.: Local 100 United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices v. Borden, 373 U.S. 690, 693, 83 S.Ct. 1423, 10 L.Ed.2d 638 (June 3, 1963); Marine Engineers Beneficial Association v. Interlake Steamship Co., 370 U.S. 173, 82 S.Ct. 1237, 8 L.Ed.2d 418; Local No. 438 Construction and General Laborers Union v. Curry, 371 U.S. 542, 83 S.Ct. 531, 9 L.Ed.2d 514; Ex parte George, 371 U.S. 72, 83 S.Ct. 178, 9 L.Ed.2d 133; Plumbers, Steamfitters, Refrigeration, Petroleum Fitters, and Apprentices of Local 298 A.F. of L. Union v. Door County, 359 U.S. 354, 359, 79 S.Ct. 844, 3 L.Ed.2d 872; San Diego Bldg. Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236, 244-245, 79 S.Ct. 773, 3 L.Ed.2d 775; Hotel Employees Union Local No. 255 v. Sax Enterprises, Inc., 358 U.S. 270, 79 S.Ct. 273, 3 L.Ed.2d 289; Weber v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 348 U.S. 468, 478, 481, 75 S.Ct. 480, 99 L.Ed. 546; Garner v. Teamsters Union, 346 U.S. 485, 489-491, 74 S.Ct. 161, 98 L.Ed. 228.

Furthermore, the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B. must be readily ascertainable from the averments of fact contained in the Complaint itself, or must be affirmatively proved by the party alleging such jurisdiction. Northampton Area Joint School Auth. v. Building and Construction Trades Council, etc., 396 Pa. 565, 152 A.2d 688; Haefele v. Davis, 373 Pa. 34, 95 A.2d 195.

Judge Milner specifically found that defendants had failed to prove that City Line [7] was engaged in interstate commerce or that it did an annual gross business of $500,000 or more, or that its activities were otherwise within the exclusive jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B.

The General Rule

The general rule, with certain exceptions hereinafter discussed, is now well settled, viz., if a labor act or practice or activity is prohibited by or made a violation of state law, but is also an unfair labor practice over which the N.L.R.B. expressly or arguably has jurisdiction, the jurisdiction of the State Court is ousted and the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B. is exclusive, even though the Board fails or refuses to take jurisdiction or to consider the challenged act or practice or activity. Marine Engineers Beneficial Association v Interlake Steamship Company, 370 U.S. 173, 82 S.Ct 1237, 8 L.Ed.2d 418 (1962); Ex parte George, 371 U.S. 72, 83 S.Ct. 178, 9 L.Ed.2d 133 (1962); Local No. 438, Construction and General Laborers Union v. Curry, 371 U.S. 542, 83 S.Ct. 531, 9 L.Ed.2d 514 (June 21, 1963); San Diego Bldg. Trades Council, Millmen's Union Local 2020 v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236, 79 S.Ct. 773, 3 L.Ed.2d 775; Hotel Employees Union Local No. 255 v. Sax Enterprises, 358 U.S. 270, 79 S.Ct. 273, 3 L.Ed.2d 289 (1959)...

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