United Maintenance & Mfg. Co., Inc. v. United Steelworkers of America, No. 13405

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtSPROUSE
Citation157 W.Va. 788,204 S.E.2d 76
Decision Date09 April 1974
Docket NumberNo. 13405
Parties, 86 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2364, 73 Lab.Cas. P 14,479 UNITED MAINTENANCE AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., a corporation v. UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, a corporation, et al.

Page 76

204 S.E.2d 76
157 W.Va. 788, 86 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2364,
73 Lab.Cas. P 14,479
UNITED MAINTENANCE AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY, INC., a corporation
v.
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, a corporation, et al.
No. 13405.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Submitted Feb. 5, 1974.
Decided April 9, 1974.

Page 77

Syllabus by the Court

1. Where jurisdiction over a labor dispute has not been preempted by National Labor Relations Board jurisdiction, a state may regulate picketing by injunction if the injunction has a reasonable basis in prevention of disorder, protection of life or property, or promotion of the general welfare as defined by state law; however, such injunction must be specifically directed to acts or conduct which are designed to accomplish an illegal purpose, and not include those which keep within the protected area of free speech.

2. An injunction against picketing in a labor dispute violates the First Amendment free speech guarantee of members of a labor union where the complaint alleged no violation of state law or public policy, and the evidence showed that the pickets were peaceful and there was no mass picketing.

3. Where the complaint for injunction against picketing in a labor dispute alleges no violence, mass picketing, or picketing to achieve an illegal purpose, it is error for a trial court to issue a temporary injunction without an evidentiary hearing.

4. After an evidentiary hearing on a complaint for a permanent injunction, a trial court is required to make a finding of fact and conclusion of law under Rule 52 of the West Virginia Rules of Civil Procedure, and findings and conclusions also should be made upon ruling on a motion to

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dissolve an injunction in order to assist appellate courts in determining whether there is a legitimate area for state regulation by injunction.

5. Where a labor dispute is subject to National Labor Relations Board jurisdiction, a state is preempted from acting to enforce private or public rights.

[157 W.Va. 789] 6. In a labor dispute where it is contended a state court is barred from assuming jurisdiction by the 'preemption' doctrine, and there are issues as to the right of a union to bargain with a successor corporation under a previously issued certificate of representation, or whether it is a majority union with whom the company must bargain, or it is engaged in permissible organizational picketing, it is not appropriate for a state court to determine such issues, but once deciding their arguable existence, must defer to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board which must determine the issues in the first instance.

Moreland & DePond, William A. Moreland, Morgantown, Rudolph L. Milasich, Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa., Bredhoff, Cushman, Gottesman & Cohen, Washington, D.C., Kleiman, Cornfield & Feldman, Bernard Kleiman, Chicago, Ill., for appellants.

Kenneth E. Kincaid, Morgantown, for appellee.

SPROUSE, Justice:

This case is before the Court upon an appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Monongalia County overruling the appellants' motion to dissolve a temporary injunction previously entered by a special judge of that court. Appellants were the defendants below, the United Steelworkers of America, a labor union, and individual members of that union. They are hereinafter referred to as 'the union.' The court had enjoined the union from all picketing of the appellee, United Maintenance and Manufacturing Company, Inc., and enjoined them from committing any acts of violence or trespass. The injunction was issued upon the complaint and affidavit of United Maintenance without a hearing. Subsequently, a [157 W.Va. 790] hearing was held by the Circuit Court of Monongalia County on the union's motion to dissolve the injunction. After the hearing, the motion to dissolve was overruled.

The union had been certified on January 3, 1973 by the National Labor Relations Board as the collective bargaining representative of the employees of United Electric and Machine Company, a corporation, the predecessor corporation to United Maintenance. The business was conducted in a building located in the Morgantown Ordnance Park. United Electric had employed thirty-eight persons who were members of the union.

After the union was certified in January, 1973, negotiations were entered into between the union and United Electric, but they failed to reach a collective bargaining agreement. In March, 1973, the union struck United Electric and established a picket line at the entrance of the company's facilities. The union and United Electric never resolved their dispute. United Maintenance and Manufacturing Company, Inc., a corporation, elsewhere referred to herein as United Maintenance, was incorporated on July 23, 1973, some four months after the strike against United Electric. On August 9, 1973, United Maintenance completed the purchase of United Electric.

The union was not formally advised of the sale, but this information was communicated to them when Lowell Cowell, the president of the new company, apprised union members on picket line duty on the morning of Monday, August 13, 1973, that the sale had been consummated. That same day, the union orally requested United Maintenance to recognize the appellant union as a certified collective bargaining representative of its employees, and requested

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that negotiations be continued with the new company. The oral requests were confirmed by letter from the union to the company on August 15, 1973. The picket line originally established against United Electric, was maintained until the issuance of the temporary injunction.

[157 W.Va. 791] Lowell Cowell had been the principal foreman for United Electric. Cowell, his wife, and father are the sole stockholders of the new company. United Maintenance purchased all of the assets and took over the operation of United Electric and Machine Company, a corporation, agreeing to pay United Electric a total sum of $200,000. There was no initial payment, the entire sum being represented by a note secured by the assets of the company. Payment was to be made in monthly installments of $2,426.60 over a period of ten years. A new lease was negotiated from Morgantown Ordnance to United Maintenance at $2,000. a month rent.

Cowell had been a shop foreman for United Electric for approximately one year and a half, and before that was a machinist for that company for about two years. There were no common stockholders in United Maintenance and United Electric, although one of the former principal stockholders of United Electric, Mr. Falbo, was employed by United Maintenance at a salary of $1,700. per month. He was primarily responsible for solicitation of new accounts.

The principal business of United Electric, which was assumed by United Maintenance, was the repair of mining equipment. Its customers were both large and small coal mines inside the State of West Virginia, as well as mines located in other states. Cowell testified that United Electric's gross annual business was a little over $800,000. a year, and he anticipated that the volume of business for United Maintenance would be between $600,000. and $800,000. per year, of which $150,000. would be business from other states.

Sometime between August 9 and August 13, Lowell Cowell, the president of United Maintenance, wrote twenty-one former employees of United Electric asking them to come to work for the new company. They were asked to be at work by Monday, August 13, 1973. All twenty-one of these employees were union members at the time of the strike, and remained members of the [157 W.Va. 792] union. Cowell testified that fourteen or sixteen replied to his letter and indicated that they desired to work for the new company. Some of them appeared on August 13, but refused to cross the picket line.

There was no dispute as to the circumstances surrounding the picketing. The picket line was maintained on public property at the intersection of State Route 45 and County Road 19, and consisted for the most part of two pickets at a time. Cowell, the principal United Maintenance witness, testified there was no violence on the picket line, no mass picketing or picket line coercion of any kind. This was supported by testimony of witnesses for the union. Cowell testified that not only was he not aware of any violence on the picket line, but that he was not concerned about violence or physical blockage by the picket line. When asked then why he was seeking the injunction, he replied: 'So that I can open up my business and hire the people that I wish to hire for my business and go about my business.' During the four and one-half months of picketing until the time of the injunction, there had not been a single threat of violence or any incidents of mass picketing.

The exact language on the picket signs does not appear from the record, except testimony indicated that the signs were directed against United Electric rather than United Maintenance, and attempted to convey to others the existence of a labor dispute between the appellant union and United Electric.

Counsel for both parties indicate in their briefs that an unfair labor practice charge was filed by the union against United

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Maintenance with the National Labor Relations Board on August 29, 1973, but that the Board did not issue the complaint until October 29, 1973.

On August 17, 1973, two days after United Maintenance was requested in writing to negotiate with the appellant union, the company filed its complaint in the Circuit Court of Monongalia County for damages and a temporary [157 W.Va. 793] injunction. The complaint alleged United Maintenance to be a new company with no employees belonging to the union; that pickets had advised its intended employees not to proceed to work; and that the 'defendants have, therefore, engaged in unlawful picketing of plaintiff's business operation.' The complaint did not specify the manner in which this...

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10 practice notes
  • Woodruff v. Board of Trustees of Cabell Huntington Hosp., No. 16313
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 11, 1984
    ...its recurrence. For example, in Syllabus Point 1 of United Maintenance and Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. United Steelworkers of America, 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 (1974), this Court held Where jurisdiction over a labor dispute has not been preempted by National Labor Relations Board jurisdi......
  • State ex rel. United Mine Workers of America, Local Union 1938 v. Waters, No. 23838
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 16, 1997
    ...conduct. Riesbeck, 185 W.Va. at 19-20, 404 S.E.2d at 411-412. See United Maintenance and Mfg. Co., Inc., v. United Steelworkers of Am., 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 (1974) (state court injunction in a labor dispute must be specifically directed to acts or conduct designed to accomplish an i......
  • Lontz v. Tharp, No. 33243.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 13, 2007
    ...from acting to enforce private or public rights." Syl. pt. 5, United Maintenance and Manufacturing v. United Steelworkers of America, 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 [647 S.E.2d 719] Paul J. Harris, Esq., Wheeling, for the Appellants. John R. Merinar, Jr., Esq., Steptoe & Johnson, Clarksburg, ......
  • City of Fairmont v. Retail, Wholesale, and Dept. Store Union, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 21, 1980
    ...and, if injury results, it is actionable." 5 In United Maintenance and Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. United Steelworkers of America, Inc., 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 (1974), and Ohio Valley Advertising Corp. v. Union Local 207, 138 W.Va. 355, 76 S.E.2d 113 (1953), we recognized that since Th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
10 cases
  • Woodruff v. Board of Trustees of Cabell Huntington Hosp., No. 16313
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 11, 1984
    ...its recurrence. For example, in Syllabus Point 1 of United Maintenance and Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. United Steelworkers of America, 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 (1974), this Court held Where jurisdiction over a labor dispute has not been preempted by National Labor Relations Board jurisdi......
  • State ex rel. United Mine Workers of America, Local Union 1938 v. Waters, No. 23838
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 16, 1997
    ...conduct. Riesbeck, 185 W.Va. at 19-20, 404 S.E.2d at 411-412. See United Maintenance and Mfg. Co., Inc., v. United Steelworkers of Am., 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 (1974) (state court injunction in a labor dispute must be specifically directed to acts or conduct designed to accomplish an i......
  • Lontz v. Tharp, No. 33243.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • June 13, 2007
    ...from acting to enforce private or public rights." Syl. pt. 5, United Maintenance and Manufacturing v. United Steelworkers of America, 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 [647 S.E.2d 719] Paul J. Harris, Esq., Wheeling, for the Appellants. John R. Merinar, Jr., Esq., Steptoe & Johnson, Clarksburg, ......
  • City of Fairmont v. Retail, Wholesale, and Dept. Store Union, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 21, 1980
    ...and, if injury results, it is actionable." 5 In United Maintenance and Manufacturing Co., Inc. v. United Steelworkers of America, Inc., 157 W.Va. 788, 204 S.E.2d 76 (1974), and Ohio Valley Advertising Corp. v. Union Local 207, 138 W.Va. 355, 76 S.E.2d 113 (1953), we recognized that since Th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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