Grunwald-Marx, Inc. v. Los Angeles Joint Bd., Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, GRUNWALD-MAR

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtPETERS; GIBSON
Citation343 P.2d 23,52 Cal.2d 568
Parties, 44 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2628, 38 Lab.Cas. P 65,724 (a Corporation), Respondent, v. LOS ANGELES JOINT BOARD, AMALGAMATED CLOTHING WORKERS OF AMERICA, Appellant. L. A. 25291
Decision Date05 August 1959

Page 23

343 P.2d 23
52 Cal.2d 568, 44 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2628, 38 Lab.Cas. P 65,724
GRUNWALD-MARX, INC. (a Corporation), Respondent,
L. A. 25291.
Supreme Court of California
Aug. 5, 1959.

Page 25

[52 Cal.2d 573] Wirin, Rissman & Okrand, Fred Okrand, Los Angeles, and William J. Isaacson, New York City, for appellant.

Hill, Farrer & Burrill, Hyman Smith and Ray L. Johnson, Jr., Los Angeles, for respondent.

[52 Cal.2d 574] PETERS, Justice.

This is an appeal by the defendant, the Los Angeles Joint Board, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (hereafter referred to as the 'Union') from a judgment and order confirming an award and supplemental award of arbitrators (one arbitrator dissenting), and denying the Union's motion to vacate, modify and correct said awards.

On December 1, 1955, the plaintiff, Grunwald-Marx, Inc. (hereafter referred to as the 'Company') filed a petition in the superior court for an order directing arbitration. The petition alleged that the Company and the Union on October 1, 1953, entered into a written contract which recognized the Union as the exclusive bargaining representative of the Company's employees, and which covered wages, hours and working conditions of the employees. A copy of this contract was annexed to the petition and made a part thereof.

Three provisions of that contract are here relevant. Paragraph 12 provides that the Company shall contribute sums of money equal to a stated percentage of its payroll to the Union's insurance fund. Paragraph 14 provides that all complaints, grievances or disputes arising between the parties relating directly or indirectly to the provisions of the agreement not settled by negotiation shall be submitted to arbitration, before a board of three arbitrators. Paragraph 19 provides that the Union agrees to grant to the Company the same terms and conditions granted by the Union to any other garment manufacturer 'and that any terms and conditions more favorable than the

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above entered into with any other garment manufacturer shall be available to the * * * (Company). If such more favorable conditions are permitted * * * then the same conditions shall be available to the parties to this contract. The Union agrees to give information to the * * * (Company) as to the terms given to others on request.'

The petition next alleges that the Union violated this last provision by waiving for a period of approximately six months the payments due to the insurance fund from the Banning Shirt Corporation, 1 but failed to waive such payments due from the Company for the six-month period, or at all. The petition also alleges that the Company demanded the same treatment afforded the Banning Shirt Corporation, but the Union refused the demand, and that the Company has been informed and believes and alleges that the Union has afforded [52 Cal.2d 575] other employees the same favorable treatment afforded the Banning Shirt Corporation, but the Union after demand has refused to give to the Company the information as required by paragraph 19 of the contract. The petition next alleges that on November 9, 1955, the Company, in writing, requested the Union to proceed with arbitration of the dispute as provided in the contract, but the Union refuses to arbitrate.

The Union moved to dismiss on the ground that the superior court had no jurisdiction to consider the petition, and also filed a general and special demurrer. In support of the motion to dismiss, the Union, by affidavit, averred that the Company is engaged in interstate commerce within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act; that prior to filing the instant petition the Company had filed with the National Labor Relations Board a charge that the Union was engaging in unfair labor practices within the meaning of section 8(b) (3) of the National Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 158(b)(3); that the unfair labor practices charged are unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of the Act, and that the Union has refused to bargain. A copy of the charge filed by the Company with the National Labor Relations Board is attached to the Union's supporting affidavit. It is also averred in that affidavit that 'the National Labor Relations Board has not declined, but in fact has assumed and is now exercising jurisdiction over the present controversy' between the Company and the Union. These claims were not controverted by the Company.

The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and overruled the Union's demurrers. The Union then filed its answer, again raising the jurisdictional question, and setting up the defense that the matter was not subject to arbitration. The trial court found 'that the issues presented by petitioner (Company) for adjudication to the National Labor Relations Board are not the same as those which constitute the controversy and dispute in the instant petition,' and directed the Company and the Union to arbitrate.

Pursuant to this direction the arbitration was held. A majority of the arbitrators (one dissenting) found that the Union and Company had entered into several contracts, one in 1947 and one in 1953, and that, as the Union contended, arbitration was ordered only as to disputes arising under the 1953 contract. The award provides, however, that 'we think the facts show a violation of that contract (1953) as well as of the 1947 contract. Since the union had allowed the Banning Plant a [52 Cal.2d 576] six-month waiver of payments, it was obligated to make a waiver to the Employer for the same period. This not having occurred, the Employer started operation under the 1953 contract with a credit balance, which it could legitimately have applied until exhausted in satisfaction of its obligation under Article 12 of the 1953 contract. The Union's continued exaction of new payments was a continuing violation,

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now of the 1953 contract, and the Employer has properly raised the issue as a violation of the 1953 agreement.'

On November 9, 1956, prior to the issuance of the award by the arbitrators, but after a tentative award had been drafted and was under consideration, the Union filed with the arbitrators a motion to reopen the hearing. The Union requested permission now to place in evidence the contract in effect between it and the Banning Shirt Corporation during the time of the alleged waiver of insurance premiums, and requested permission to produce additional evidence to show that the Banning Shirt Corporation had in fact received only a partial waiver and not a blanket waiver. Thus, at this late date, the Union wanted to reopen the arbitration to show that in fact the Company had not been discriminated against. This, of course, was the basic issue that had been submitted to the arbitrators. The motion to reopen was denied, first, because the waiver to the Banning Shirt Corporation had been admitted in the pleadings of the Union in the action to compel arbitration, and so was not open to arbitration, and second, that the application came too late because the Union had had these facts in its possession at all times during the original hearing, but had failed to offer them. No showing of surprise or excusable neglect was made.

On March 14, 1957, the award of the arbitrators was issued. The Union was ordered to return to the Company the premiums which the latter had paid into the insurance fund during the six-month period from July 18, 1952, to January 18, 1953. A supplemental award was issued on June 20, 1957, finding that the amount due was $8,896.43. The Union was directed to pay that amount.

Thereafter the Company filed in the superior court a timely motion to confirm, and the Union filed its motion to vacate, modify and correct. The court granted the Company's motion and denied that of the Union. The Union thereupon prosecuted this appeal.

The basic question presented on this appeal is whether the superior court had jurisdiction to entertain the action to [52 Cal.2d 577] compel arbitration. This depends upon whether the National Labor Relations Act pre-empts state jurisdiction over the controversy.

A few preliminary remarks are appropriate. In our dual federal-state system clashes between federal and state jurisdiction are inevitable. Nowhere is this conflict more evident and vital than in the field of industrial relations, particularly since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act. By the enactment of that statute the federal government undoubtedly pre-empted exclusive jurisdiction over certain controversies in the industrial field that affect interstate commerce. But it is equally certain that by that statute the federal government did not pre-empt full jurisdiction in this field. Stated another way, the National Labor Relations Act and subsequent statutes in this field do not cover the entire field, but leave to the states power to control many phases of industrial relations involving employers or unions engaged in or affecting interstate commerce. The difficulty comes from the fact that the Congress, and the United States Supreme Court in interpreting the statute, have carefully refrained from stating how much power has been retained by the states and how much of the field has been pre-empted by the federal government. As specific problems are presented, the United States Supreme Court, step by step, determines whether or not the specific problem falls within or without the pre-empted field. This slow and painful process sometimes leads to confusion. Broad statements made in a particular case must always be related to the facts of that case and to the particular problem involved.

Some of these problems were recently discussed by the high court in its decision in San Diego Building Trades Council, etc. v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236, 79 S.Ct. 773, at page 776, 3 L.Ed.2d 775, as follows:

'The issue is a variant of a familiar theme. It began with...

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