Garmon v. San Diego Bldg. Trades Council

Decision Date16 January 1958
Docket NumberD,No. 2020,No. 36,B,2020,36
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 41 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2496 J. S. GARMON, J. M. Garmon and W. A. Garmon, Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. SAN DIEGO BUILDING TRADES COUNCIL, Millmen's Union Localuilding Material and Dump Truck Drivers, Localefendants and Appellants. L. A. 23005

Todd & Todd, San Francisco, Thomas Whelan, John T. Holt, San Diego, Clarence E. Todd, San Francisco, Walter Wencke, San Diego, Charles P. Scully, San Francisco, John C. Stevenson, Los Angeles, Mathew Tobriner, San Francisco, and Charles Hackler, Los Angeles, for appellants.

Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye, James W. Archer and Ward W. Waddell, Jr., San Diego, for respondents.

SHENK, Justice.

This case is here for the second time. The first was on appeal from a judgment of the Superior Court in and for the County of San Diego ordering an injunction to prevent continuing conduct of the defendants found by the court to have been the cause of irreparable damage to the property and rights of the plaintiffs, and awarding $1,000 damages resulting from alleged past tortious activities of the defendants. The judgment was affirmed by this court on December 2, 1955. Garmon v. San Diego Bldg. Trades Council, 45 Cal.2d 657, 291 P.2d 1. On certiorari the Supreme Court of the United States ordered that the judgment of this court be 'vacated' and the cause be remanded 'for proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion and the opinions in Guss v. Utah Labor Relations Board, supra (353 U.S. 1, 77 S.Ct. 598, 1 L.Ed.2d 601), and Amalgamated Meat Cutters, etc., v. Fairlawn Meats, Inc., supra (353 U.S. 20, 77 S.Ct. 604, 1 L.Ed.2d 613).' San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 353 U.S. 26, 77 S.Ct. 607, 608, 1 L.Ed.2d 618.

Both the Guss case (Guss v. Utah Labor Relations Board, 77 S.Ct. 598) and the Amalgamated Meat Cutters case (Amalgamated Meat Cutters, etc., v. Fairlawn Meats, Inc., 77 S.Ct. 604) were decided concurrently with the present case, March 25, 1957. They involved the exercise of jurisdiction by state agencies over labor disputes which substantially affected interstate commerce within the cognizance of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq. In the Guss case the Supreme Court held that the Utah Labor Relations Board had no jurisdiction to resolve a charge of unfair labor practice against an employer when the National Labor Relations Board had refused jurisdiction on the ground that the employer's operations were 'predominately local in character.' The court stated at page 602 of 77 S.Ct. that 'the proviso to § 10(a) (formal cession of power to state agencies) is the exclusive means whereby States may be enabled to act concerning the matters which Congress has entrusted to the National Labor Relations Board.' In the Amalgamated Meat Cutters case the Ohio court of Common Pleas asserted jurisdiction in a labor dispute, and the Supreme Court stated at page 606 that 'If the proviso to § 10(a) * * * operates to exclude state labor boards from disputes within the National Board's jurisdiction in the absence of a cession agreement, it must also exclude state courts.' In order that the present disposition of this case conform to the decision and order of the Supreme Court it is obvious that the judgment of the trial court herein, insofar as injunctive relief is concerned, must be reversed. In doing so it is deemed desirable if not necessary to review to some considerable extent what has taken place in the present proceeding.

As to the facts it appears that the plaintiffs are partners engaged in interstate commerce as retail dealers in lumber and other building materials; that their employees are not members of a labor union and had indicated that they do not desire to join, or to be represented by, a union; that the defendant unions had not been recognized by the plaintiffs nor certified by the National Labor Relations Board as the representatives of the plaintiffs' employees; that nevertheless the defendants demanded that the plaintiffs enter into an agreement which would require that all of the plaintiffs' employees be or become members of the defendant unions; that upon the plaintiffs' refusal to enter into such an agreement, on the ground that to do so would violate the law, the defendants placed pickets at the plaintiffs' place of business, had the plaintiffs' trucks followed, threatened persons about to enter the plaintiffs' place of business with economic interference and injury, and that by such conduct they induced building contractors to discontinue their patronage.

The plaintiffs filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board requesting that the question of its employee representation be resolved. The board refused to take jurisdiction. The refusal was based on the Board's declared policy that the annual dollar amount of the plaintiffs' interestate business must but did not exceed a minimum set by the Board. The present proceeding was commenced in the Superior Court for an injunction to prevent further alleged tortious conduct on the part of the defendants and for damages. The court found on substantial evidence that the intent of the defendants was not to induce the employees to join one of their unions, nor to provide education or information as to the benefits of organized representation; that their only purpose was to compel the plaintiffs to execute the agreement or to suffer the destruction of their business. The court enjoined the unions '* * * from picketing the places of business of plaintiffs, from following the trucks of the plaintiffs, from preventing or attempting to prevent, by means of threats, expressed or implied, persons having business with the plaintiffs from entering the premises of the plaintiffs, from inducing or attempting to induce by such means potential customers of plaintiffs to refuse to purchase from plaintiffs or to refuse to accept delivery of goods from plaintiffs or in plaintiffs' trucks, and from doing any other acts tending or intended to injure plaintiffs' business * * *.' The court also found that the plaintiffs' business had been damaged to the extent of $1,000 by the defendants' conduct and as stated, rendered judgment for that amount.

In affirming the judgment this court held that the National Labor Relations Board had jurisdiction to prevent unfair labor practices against employers engaged in interstate commerce; that the conduct on the part of the unions constituted unfair labor practices within the meaning of the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 158); that in vesting in the National Labor Relations Board the discretion to accept or refuse jurisdiction of a controversy under section 10 of the act Congress must have intended that state courts should be free to act where the Board had specifically determined, by refusing to accept jurisdiction, that the controversy did not have a pronounced impact on interstate commerce; that although section 10(a) of the Taft-Hartley Act made provision for the National Labor Relations Board to cede, by agreement, jurisdiction to state agencies where the state law is not inconsistent with the national labor policy, Congress had not, by implication or otherwise, prohibited the state from assuming jurisdiction in the absence of such a cession and where the National Labor Relations Board had refused to take jurisdiction, and that the plaintiffs were entitled to injunctive relief and to the damages awarded by the state court.

In arriving at the foregoing conclusions this court took into consideration the fact appearing in the record that in the administration of the National Labor Relations Act the Board had established certain standards as prerequisites to its assumption of jurisdiction. One essential was, of course, that the business of the enterprise must affect interstate commerce in a substantial way. But even when so affected the Board's announced policy, for budgetary or other reasons, caused it to refuse jurisdiction in certain cases. This policy was declared by the Board in its public announcement of October 6, 1950, that in order '* * * to better effectuate the purpose of the Act, and promote the prompt handling of major cases (the Board) has decided not to exercise its jurisdiction to the fullest extent possible under the Authority delegated to it by Congress, but to limit that exercise to enterprises whose operations have, or at which labor disputes would have, a pronounced impact upon the interstate flow of commerce wherever federal jurisdiction exists under the statute and the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution * * *.' Among the enterprises excluded were those which did not have a 'direct inflow of material valued at $500,000 a year' or an 'indirect inflow of material valued at $1,000,000 a year.' 26 Labor Relations Reference Manual 50.

The foregoing requirements were not altered by the Board in a 1954 revision of its standards (34 Labor Relations Reference Manual 75) and were in force at the time of filing the plaintiffs' complaint. Pursuant to the standards set by those rules the remedy sought by the plaintiffs was excluded from consideration by the Board for the reason that only $250,000 of the plaintiffs' required business during the preceding year was in interstate commerce. The plaintiffs were thus denied any redress before the Board and were so notified. When the plaintiffs filed their petition with the Board they received a reply stating: 'The amount of business by Valley Lumber Company (the plaintiffs' business title) in interstate commerce is insufficient for the Board to assert jurisdiction on the basis of present Board decisions.' Later on, after investigation by the regional director of the Board, the plaintiffs were notified that their petition had been dismissed with the statement that 'in view of the scope of the business operation involved, it would not effectuate the purposes of the National Labor...

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