Monongahela Pow. Co. v. Loc. No. 2332 Int. Bro. of El. Wkrs., 73-1680.

Decision Date02 October 1973
Docket NumberNo. 73-1680.,73-1680.
Citation484 F.2d 1209
PartiesMONONGAHELA POWER COMPANY, an Ohio corporation, Appellant, v. LOCAL NO. 2332 INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF ELECTRICAL WORKERS, AFL-CIO-CLC, et al., Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Leonard L. Scheinholtz, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Richard H. Talbott, Jr., Elkins, W. Va., on brief), for appellant.

Stanley M. Hostler, Charleston, W. Va. (Hostler, Logsdon & Shinaberry, Thomas P. Maroney and Maroney & McHugh, Charleston, W.Va., on brief), for appellees.

Before CRAVEN, BUTZNER and RUSSELL, Circuit Judges.

CRAVEN, Circuit Judge:

The plaintiff Monongahela Power Company brought this action below to enjoin a work stoppage allegedly in violation of a collective bargaining agreement with Local No. 2332, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and to order arbitration. The district court, acting under the grant of jurisdiction contained in Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, held inapplicable the Boys Markets1 exception to the anti-injunction mandate of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, 29 U.S.C. § 104, and denied injunctive relief. We reverse.

Monongahela is a public utility which provides electric service to most of northern and central West Virginia. Defendant Local 2332 is the collective bargaining representative for all hourly-paid employees of the Company's Panhandle Division located in Weirton, West Virginia. In early May 1973, members of Local 2357 went on strike at the Company's Clarksburg Division. Pickets from Local 2357 were subsequently established at the Panhandle Division in Weirton to publicize the strike then being conducted in Clarksburg. In order to show sympathy and solidarity with members of the Clarksburg Local, the employees of the Panhandle Division represented by the defendant Local 2332 refused to cross the picket line, and a work stoppage followed. William Wilharm, manager of the Panhandle Division, made repeated requests for the Panhandle employees to return to work, and he asked both the Local and the Cincinnati Regional Office of the IBEW to disavow the work stoppage and to direct its members to return to work and process any grievance they might have through the applicable steps of the grievance procedure contained in the collective bargaining agreement. No action to end the strike was taken by the Panhandle employees, the Local, or the Regional Office, and the work stoppage continued.

The collective bargaining agreement between Local 2332 and the Company became effective on March 1, 1972, and continues in force until July 1, 1974. It provides in part as follows:

ARTICLE IX
Adjustment of Grievance
Section 1. Any dispute between the Company or employees covered by this Agreement with respect to the interpretation, application, or claimed violation of any express provision of this Agreement shall constitute a grievance which shall be settled in accordance with the provisions of this Article.
. . . . . .
ARTICLE X
No Strike—No Lockout
Section 1. During the term of this Agreement, there shall be no strike, work stoppage, slowdown or any other interference with or impeding of work.
Section 2. No employee shall participate in any such strike, work stoppage, slowdown or any other interference with or impeding of work and the Union will not authorize, instigate, aid or condone any such activity. Upon notification by the Company that a violation of this Article exists or is threatened, the Union shall immediately take all steps within its power to prevent or terminate any action or conduct in violation of this Article. Emphasis added.

The Company brought this action in district court seeking both injunctive relief and damages on the grounds that the refusal to cross the picket line and the resultant work stoppage were in direct violation of Article X of the collective bargaining agreement. The defendant Local contended that the refusal to cross the picket line was an individual decision of each employee, neither authorized nor sanctioned by the Local, and that the employees were engaging in activity which was protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 157,2 and which did not come within the scope of Boys Markets. Following a hearing, the district judge orally denied the Company's application for a preliminary injunction, and an order denying both preliminary and permanent injunctive relief was thereafter entered.3

A brief history and analysis of federal labor policy is required in order to determine whether the district court erred in concluding that Boys Markets was not applicable to the facts of this case and that the court was therefore barred by the Norris-LaGuardia Act from granting an injunction against the work stoppage.4 Congress passed the Norris-LaGuardia Act in 1932 as a reaction to the widespread misuse by federal courts of injunctive relief in labor-management controversies.5 Section 4 of the Act prohibits federal courts from issuing temporary or permanent injunctions in most labor disputes,6 and strict procedural safeguards are provided for those cases where injunctions are appropriate. 29 U.S.C. §§ 107-112.

Against this clear federal policy of nonintervention in labor disputes, however, emerged an "equally strong policy to encourage the settlement of labor disputes through enforcement of compulsory arbitration agreements." Avco Corp. v. Local No. 787, 459 F.2d 968, 970 (3d Cir. 1972). Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, passed in 1947 to supplement existing state jurisdiction over labor contract matters, granted federal courts jurisdiction over "suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization."7 Although initially considered only a grant of jurisdiction,8 Section 301 was later interpreted to allow federal courts to order specific performance to enforce arbitration provisions in collective bargaining agreements. Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, 77 S.Ct. 912, 1 L.Ed.2d 972 (1957).9

In Sinclair Refining Co. v. Atkinson, 370 U.S. 195, 82 S.Ct. 1318, 8 L.Ed.2d 462 (1962), the Supreme Court failed to reconcile these two competing federal labor policies—the prohibition against antistrike injunctions and the preference for compulsory arbitration to maintain industrial peace. Sinclair involved a strike in direct violation of a no-strike provision in a collective bargaining agreement. The Court affirmed the district court's refusal to enjoin the strike by adopting a literal reading of Section 4 of Norris-LaGuardia, 29 U.S.C. § 104, and holding that the Act's anti-injunction provision was not limited by Section 301 of the LMRA, i. e., federal courts do not have jurisdiction to issue injunctions against violations of a no-strike clause if the labor dispute is one encompassed by Section 4.10 The effect of Sinclair was to create a new dilemma: if its holding were limited to federal courts, and injunctive relief left available in state courts, the declared need for uniformity among state and federal courts11 with respect to enforcement of labor contracts would be destroyed; if Sinclair were extended to state courts, it would have to be done despite "explicit evidence that Congress expressly intended not to encroach upon the existing jurisdiction of the state courts." Charles Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S. 502, 509, 82 S. Ct. 519, 523, 7 L.Ed.2d 483 (1962).12

The Supreme Court decided Boys Markets in order to solve the dilemma created by Sinclair and to avoid possible "wholesale dislocation in the allocation of judicial business between state and federal courts" that might be caused by disparity of remedy available in courts of concurrent jurisdiction. 398 U.S. at 246-247, 90 S.Ct. at 1590. The Court there chose to reject the literal interpretation of Norris-LaGuardia announced in Sinclair and to adopt a strong policy favoring the settlement of labor disputes through enforcement of compulsory arbitration. By way of explanation of its decision to overrule Sinclair in favor of enforcing arbitration agreements, the Court stated:

The Sinclair decision . . . seriously undermined the effectiveness of the arbitration technique as a method peacefully to resolve industrial disputes without resort to strikes, lockouts, and similar devices.
We conclude, therefore, that the unavailability of equitable relief in the arbitration context presents a serious impediment to the congressional policy favoring the voluntary establishment of a mechanism for the peaceful resolution of labor disputes, that the core purpose of the Norris-LaGuardia Act is not sacrificed by the limited use of equitable remedies to further this important policy, and consequently that the Norris-LaGuardia Act does not bar the granting of injunctive relief in the circumstances of the instant case.

398 U.S. at 252-253, 90 S.Ct. at 1593.

The anti-injunction provision of Norris-LaGuardia still retained much of its vitality after Boys Markets, however, as the Court specifically limited its holding —that injunctive relief against labor disputes may be available—to a narrow fact situation.

We deal only with the situation in which a collective-bargaining contract contains a mandatory grievance adjustment or arbitration procedure. Nor does it follow from what we have said that injunctive relief is appropriate as a matter of course in every case of a strike over an arbitrable grievance. The dissenting opinion in Sinclair suggested the following principles for the guidance of the district courts in determining whether to grant injunctive relief—principles that we now adopt:
"A District Court entertaining an action under § 301 may not grant injunctive relief against concerted activity unless and until it decides that the case is one in which an injunction would be appropriate despite the Norris-LaGuardia Act. When a strike is sought to be enjoined
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