Dallas General Drivers, Warehousemen and Helpers v. Wamix, Inc., of Dallas, A-5503

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Citation295 S.W.2d 873,156 Tex. 408
Docket NumberNo. A-5503,A-5503
Decision Date10 October 1956

Mullinax & Wells, Dallas, Houston Clinton, Jr., Austin, for petitioners.

Rawlings, Sayers, Scurlock & Eidson, Sam R. Sayers and Joseph A. Jenkins, Fort Worth, for respondent.

CALVERT, Justice.

A brief history of the relationship between the parties is necessary to an understanding of our discussion of the questions involved in this case. That history may be found, in large part, in the opinion of the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, in National Labor Relations Board v. Concrete Haulers, Inc., 212 F.2d 477. The parties will be referred to in this opinion as Union and Wamix, respectively.

In May, 1951, Union, having obtained signatures of eight of Wamix' fourteen truck drivers, requested Wamix to enter into negotiations for a contract. Wamix refused, and on June 7, 1951, the eight drivers holding union cards left the plant and established a picket line. Thereupon Wamix notified the striking drivers that they would be replaced if they did not return to work.

The National Labor Relations Board took jurisdiction of the controversy under its finding, contrary to Wamix' contention, that Wamix was 'engaged in commerce within the meaning of the Act' and that it 'furnished material valued in excess of $50,000 annually to enterprises engaged in performing services outside the State of Texas in the value of $25,000 annually.'

The N.L.R.B. found, after hearing, that in refusing to bargain with Union Wamix had violated Section 8(a)(5) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., popularly known as the Taft-Hartley Act, and that the strike of the drivers was 'an unfair-labor-practice strike.' The N.L.R.B. found further that Wamix, by threatening the strikers with loss of their jobs, had violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act and had also violated Section 8(a)(1) by interrogating two employees concerning their membership in the Union. On August 12, 1953, the Board ordered Wamix to reinstate, upon application, those strikers not already reinstated, and to make them whole for any loss of pay. It also ordered Wamix to bargain with Union with respect to a contract covering wages, hours and working conditions. This order was enforced by the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. 212 F.2d 477. The judgment of the court was rendered on May 6, 1954.

On July 15, 1954, the N.L.R.B. adopted new and more restrictive standards for determining whether the impact of a particular business on interstate commerce was such as to justify the Board in taking jurisdiction of a labor dispute to which such business was a party.

On July 23, 1954, Wamix and Union began negotiations looking to the execution of a contract and the negotiations continued to September 23. During the negotiations Wamix submitted five different contracts for Union's consideration and Union submitted three contracts for Wamix' consideration, but no agreement was reached. On September 23rd Union's representatives broke off negotiations and on September 30th ten Wamix employees established a picket line. Wamix replaced the striking employees on a permanent basis with new employees.

In the meantime, on September 18th, Wamix filed in the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, a motion to modify the enforcement order theretofore rendered so as to relieve it of the obligation to continue to bargain with Union. The basis of its motion was that the nature of its business was such that it did not meet the new standards set by the N.L.R.B. as prerequisite to the taking of jurisdiction. The motion was opposed by the N.L.R.B. On October 16th the Court entered its order denying the motion to modify. 215 F.2d 959.

It was in the light of the foregoing historical background that Wamix, on October 18th, filed this suit against Union and certain individual defendants seeking damages, a restraining order, and a temporary and permanent injunction. The purpose of the injunctive relief sought was to prohibit the picketing activities of Union and the other defendants.

The trial court granted a restraining order without a hearing, and, upon a hearing, granted a temporary injunction enjoining and restraining the defendants as follows: (1) From picketing plaintiff's concrete hauler and mixer trucks at or near premises where five named construction companies were engaged in construction projects, and on or near premises 'where any other persons, firms or corporations are engaged in constructing buildings or other work and are purchasing or desirous of purchasing plaintiff's concrete, and from establishing and maintaining ambulatory and roving pickets to follow or accompany any of plaintiff's hauler-mixer trucks while operating in the usual course of business in the delivery of Red-D-Mix concrete to any job site.' (2) From publishing orally or in writing any statement to the effect or implying that Wamix trucks were being driven by strike breakers or that all regular Wamix drivers were on strike. (3) From using insulting, threatening and indecent language toward any Wamix employees, who desire to work, for the purpose of interfering with, hindering and intimidating such employees. The judgment was affirmed by the Court of Civil Appeals. 281 S.W.2d 738.

The trial judge filed extensive findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of his judgment. They are set out in full in the opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals 281 S.W.2d 738-744, and need not be repeated in full in this opinion. The pertinent findings of fact will be summarized later.

The first point of error presented by Union in the Court of Civil Appeals and in this Court attacks the jurisdiction of the district court to grant injunctive relief. Union asserts that exclusive jurisdiction of this phase of the case was in the N.L.R.B. Wamix answers that the principal relief sought by it was damages, relief within the jurisdiction of the state court to grant, and that having jurisdiction over its suit for damages the state court had incidental jurisdiction to grant ancillary injunctive relief to preserve the status quo and to prevent irreparable injury pending a trial of the damage suit on the its merits. The Court of Civil Appeals agreed with Wamix on the question thus posed and its judgment of affirmance rests primarily on that basis. 281 S.W.2d 745. In that conclusion we think the Court of Civil Appeals erred.

If exclusive jurisdiction of the labor practices sought to be enjoined was in the N.L.R.B. under the Labor Management Relations Act that exclusive jurisdiction could not be defeated or ousted and jurisdiction thereof conferred on a state court by the simple expedient of joining a count for damages with a count for injunctive relief. Neither United Construction Workers v. Laburnum Construction Corp., 347 U.S. 656, 74 S.Ct. 833, 98 L.Ed. 1025, nor Benjamin v. Foidl, 379 Pa. 540, 109 A.2d 300, 301, cited by the Court of Civil Appeals and by Wamix, support the holding that it could. No relief other than damages was sought by the employer in Laburnum. The holding of the Supreme Court of the United States in that case is therefore limited to the proposition that inasmuch as Congress had not made provision through federal legislation for compensatory relief for injuries incurred from unlawful labor activities, the traditional jurisdiction of state courts to grant such relief continued in existence. In Benjamin v. Foidl, supra, suit was in a state court and was for damages and injunctive relief. The trial court dismissed the suit on the theory that exclusive jurisdiction lay with the N.L.R.B. Wamix emphasizes the fact that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed and in the course of its opinion said: 'It is obvious that the tortious conspiracy may be enjoined where it affects property rights.' The quoted sentence must be read, however, in the light of the facts in the case, among which was that 'it was not shown at the hearing on continuance of the injunction that the plaintiffs were engaged in interstate commerce.' It is elementary that even if a labor activity comes within the Federal Act's definition of an unfair labor practice, the N.L.R.B. has no jurisdiction unless the same is in or affects interstate commerce.

If the labor practice involved is within the protection of, or is prohibited by, the Taft-Hartley Act and the business involved is in or affects interstate commerce, the N.L.R.B. has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate the need for injunctive relief and a state court has no jurisdiction to grant such relief, except to preserve the public peace against violence, mass picketing, etc., unless it is made to appear that the N.L.R.B. either has refused or would refuse to take jurisdiction of the matter. Garner v. Teamsters, etc., Union, 346 U.S. 485, 74 S.Ct. 161, 98 L.Ed. 228; Building Trades Council v. Kinard Const. Co., 346 U.S. 933, 74 S.Ct. 373, 98 L.Ed. 423; Capital Service, Inc., v. National Labor Relations Board, 347 U.S. 501, 74 S.Ct. 699, 98 L.Ed. 887; Weber v. Anheuser-Busch, 348 U.S. 468, 75 S.Ct. 480, 99 L.Ed. 546. This rule, often repeated and enforced by the Supreme Court of the United States, would be nothing but empty and meaningless words if the jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B. could be ousted by the simple expedient of coupling a prayer for compensatory relief with a prayer for injunctive relief in a petition filed in a state court. The fact that Section 8 of Article V of the Texas Constitution, Vernon's Ann.St. and Article 4642, Revised Civil Statutes 1925, authorize state courts to grant ancillary injunctive relief to enforce their jurisdiction or to preserve the status quo of a suit does not alter the situation. Moreover, jurisdiction of the N.L.R.B. conferred by Congress, cannot be made to turn on whether...

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