Cooperative Refinery Ass'n v. Williams

Decision Date07 November 1959
Docket Number41422,Nos. 41421,s. 41421
Citation345 P.2d 709,185 Kan. 410
PartiesCOOPERATIVE REFINERY ASSOCIATION, Appellant, v. Roy L. WILLIAMS et al., Appellees. COOPERATIVE FARM CHEMICALS ASSOCIATION, Appellant, v. Roy L. WILLIAMS et al., Appellees.
CourtKansas Supreme Court

Syllabus by the Court

1. Where labor activities, as more fully set forth in the opinion, are neither protected nor prohibited by the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (29 U.S.C.A. § 141 et seq.), Congress has not clearly manifested an intention to withdraw from the states power to exercise jurisdiction.

2. The record is examined and it is held that defendants' picketing of plaintiff's plant was neither protected nor prohibited by the Labor Management Relations Act, and further held that the trial court erred in (1) dissolving the temporary restraining order and (2) sustaining defendants' demurrer to plaintiff's evidence and dismissing the action.

John J. Hasburgh, Jr., and Melvin J. Spencer, Kansas City, Mo., Richard B. Stevens, Lawrence, and Clement H. Hall, Coffeyville, were on the briefs for appellants.

Robert L. Kimbrough, George E. McCullough, W. L. Parker, Jr., Walter N. Scott and Floyd E. Gehrt, Topeka, were on the briefs for appellees.

WERTZ, Justice.

These actions to enjoin the defendants from maintaining picket lines in the vicinity of plaintiffs' Coffeyville and Lawrence, Kansas, plants and premises were commenced separately--case No. 41,421 in the district court of Montgomery county and case No. 41,422 in the district court of Douglas county. In each case an appeal was taken from the order of the trial court sustaining defendants' demurrer to the plaintiff's evidence. These appeals have been consolidated in this court upon the stipulation by all parties that the decision in case No. 41,422 will govern and constitute the decision in case No. 41,421, and they will be so considered.

Case No. 41,422 was tried upon (1) a stipulation by the parties that all allegations or statements of fact set forth in the petition were true and (2) additional stipulated facts. The allegations of the petition may be summarized as follows: The named defendants (appellees) are officers, business representatives, stewards or other officials or agents of Local Union No. 41 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers, which will be hereinafter referred to as the Teamsters Union. The Teamsters Union maintains an office at 116 West Linwood Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri, and is the representative or collective bargaining agent of certain employees of The Consumers Cooperative Association, hereinafter referred to as CCA.

CCA is a Kansas corporation licensed to do business in the state of Missouri and has its principal office and place of business at 3315 North Oak Trafficway, North Kansas City, Missouri. CCA also has a warehouse at 1500 Iron Street, North Kansas City, Missouri, and is engaged in the business of purchasing, selling and distributing farm and home supplies to retail farmers' cooperative associations in the middle west.

The collective bargaining contract between CCA and the Teamsters Union expired on or about March 31, 1958. No agreement was reached during the collective bargaining negotiations carried on prior to and subsequent to the expiration of the contract. As a result, on April 18, 1958, the Teamsters Union notified CCA that it was on strike and had instructed certain of its members to picket CCA's warehouse and terminal at 1500 Iron Street. Shortly thereafter, certain of its members stationed themselves in and about the entrances to the premises carrying placards stating, 'Truck Drivers and Warehousemen on Strike Against C.C.A., Kansas City, Missouri.' On April 22, 1958, other of its members set up picket lines in and about the entrances to CCA's general office building at 3315 North Oak Trafficway. They carried similar placards.

About two and one-half weeks after the strike commenced in Missouri, the Teamsters Union sent the named defendants and other of its personnel from Kansas City, Missouri, to Lawrence, Kansas, where they set up picket lines in and around the entrances to the premises of The Cooperative Farm Chemicals Association (plaintiff-appellant), which is a separate Kansas corporation engaged in the business of manufacturing, processing, storing and distributing agricultural chemicals and fertilizers. This corporation will hereinafter be referred to as the Association. The defendants carried placards containing language identical to that on the placards being carried by the strikers in Kansas City, Missouri.

At the time the picket lines were set up around the Association's premises, all of the defendants knew that no dispute existed between the Association and any of its employees, that the employees of the Association were validly represented by another union (Local Union No. 5-613 of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union, AFL-CIO), which was the exclusive collective bargaining agent certified by the National Labor Relations Board, and that a valid collective bargaining contract was then in effect covering all of the Association's employees.

Neither the defendants nor the Teamsters Union sought to represent any of the Association's employees or to otherwise bargain or present any demands with respect to the wages, hours or working conditions of such employees. The picket lines were not set up for any of these purposes, but, rather, all of the defendants knew that the public, including the Association's customers, and the drivers of both intrastate and interstate truck lines which normally picked up and delivered the Association's merchandise would be misled and caused to believe that a dispute existed between the Association and its employees. Further, they knew and intended that the drivers of such truck lines would refuse to cross the picket lines. They also knew that the demands for the Association's products were greatest at this particular time. The picketing had its intended effect, in that the drivers of intrastate and interstate truck lines refused to pick up or deliver shipments from the Association's plant, thus seriously disrupting the distribution of such products. The Association could make no concession or other agreement which would in any manner solve or affect the picketing being carried on by the defendants at its Lawrence plant; moreover, it could do nothing which would tend to settle the strike in Missouri.

The Association alleged that it did not have an adequate remedy at law and that the unlawful acts of the defendants would be continued indefinitely, resulting in irreparable injury and damage to it. It asked that the defendants be temporarily and permanently restrained and enjoined from maintaining the picket lines.

A temporary restraining order was issued ordering defendants to desist from picketing the Association's premises. The Association executed and filed its temporary restraining order bond to pay the defendants for such damage as they might incur by reason of any wrongful issuance of such order. An agreed statement of facts was filed wherein the parties stipulated as follows: CCA is the owner of seventy-five per cent of the common stock of the Association and Mr. Howard A. Cowden is president and general manager of CCA, as well as president of the Association. The collective bargaining contract signed by the Association with its employees contained the signature of Fred F. Claxton, who was the personnel director of CCA. The collective bargaining contract between CCA and the Teamsters Union included the signature of C. K. Ward, the predecessor of Fred F. Claxton.

The volume of interstate business engaged in by the Association exceeds the minimum jurisdictional limitations required by the National Labor Relations Board in order for the Board to assert jurisdiction.

Subsequent to the strike and picketing against CCA by the Teamsters Union, CCA transferred various units of its trucking equipment from Missouri to other locations within the state of Kansas, but no such units were transferred to the Association's plant in Lawrence. However, during normal operations prior to the strike, a number of CCA trucking units picked up merchandise at the Association's plant and some of these units continued to make such pickups during the time the picket lines were maintained.

The defendants demurred to the evidence on the ground that jurisdiction of the subject matter was pre-empted by the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 141 et seq., and, therefore, the district court was without jurisdiction to issue either the temporary restraining order or an injunction. The demurrer was sustained on this ground and the temporary restraining order was dissolved. Judgment was entered dismissing the action. At that time the defendants orally moved the court to assess damages under the restraining order bond, claiming as the sole item of damage the sum of $500 for attorney fees. It was agreed that if the defendants were entitled to damages and such damages included attorney fees the amount was reasonable. The court ruled that defendants had been damaged in the amount of the attorney fees and sustained the motion. Following the overruling of its motion for a new trial, the Association perfected this appeal.

At the outset, it may be said that the defendants' activity in going from Missouri, the situs of the strike, to Lawrence, where they set up picket lines in and around the entrances to the Association's premises, was unlawful as being in violation of G.S.1957 Supp. 44-809(13), which provides: 'It shall be unlawful for any person * * * (13) To picket beyond the area of the industry within which a labor dispute arises.'

Defendants do not contend otherwise. In fact, they admit the picketing was unlawful and take the position that the trial court was without jurisdiction of the subject...

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