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PEPPER & POTTER, INC. v. LOCAL 977

March 17, 1952

PEPPER & POTTER, Inc.
v.
LOCAL 977, UNITED AUTO WORKERS, C.I.O. et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINFELD

This is an action by an employer, engaged in a business affecting commerce, against two local unions of the United Auto Workers and the International with which they are affiliated under Sections 301 and 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 185, 187. There is no allegation of diversity of citizenship or amount in controversy, plaintiff relying upon said sections of the Act for jurisdiction. The defendants move to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction of the subject matter and for failure to state claims upon which relief may be granted. Two claims are asserted in the complaint.

I

 The first claim is asserted only against Local 977. The complaint alleges that upon certification by the National Labor Relations Board of the defendant Local 977 as the sole and exclusive bargaining agent of plaintiff's employees, a collective bargaining agreement binding upon both plaintiff and the said union, became effective on September 20th, 1950, which was to continue for one year *fn1" with an automatic renewal clause.

 Plaintiff charges that in the month of February, 1951, and continuing thereafter, Locals 977 and 259 and the International conspired to destroy and repudiate the agreement by inducing plaintiff's employees to refuse performance as required thereunder and to make various demands contrary to its provisions, notwithstanding due performance on plaintiff's part.

 Specific acts as ascribed to the three unions to further their purposes, including a disavowal by Local 977 of its representation of plaintiff's employees, despite the certification; renunciation by the employees of their membership in Local 977; their affiliation with and designation of Local 259 as their new bargaining representative; refusal by Local 977 and the employees to perform pursuant to the agreement; demands by Local 259 that plaintiff recognize it instead of Local 977 and negotiate a new contract containing different terms and conditions from those contained in the outstanding agreement with Local 977. The events continued from February to April 1951, and finally culminated on April 25th, 1951, when plaintiff alleges the defendants, including Local 977, picketed and demonstrated, and continued to do so, at plaintiff's place of business and otherwise interfered with its operations.

 The various acts are charged as a breach of the agreement, all intended for the purpose of compelling the plaintiff, to acquiesce in the repudiation of the agreement by Local 977, to release said local from its obligations thereunder and to force plaintiff to recognize Local 259 as the new representative and to enter into contractual relations with it.

 Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a), provides in part: '(a) Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this Act, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.'

 This section confers new substantive rights between employers and employees engaged in interstate commerce, and makes collective bargaining contracts equally enforceable on both and provides a forum for their enforcement. Shirley-Herman Co. v. International Hod Carriers, etc., 2 Cir., 182 F.2d 806, 17 A.L.R.2d 609; Textile Workers Union of America v. Arista Mills Co., 4 Cir., 193 F.2d 529; Wilson & Co. v. United Packinghouse Workers, D.C., 83 F.Supp. 162; Colonial Hardwood Flooring Co. v. International Union, etc., D.C., 76 F.Supp. 493, affirmed 4 Cir., 168 F.2d 33; Schatte v. International Alliance, etc., D.C., 84 F.Supp. 669.

 Local 977 urges that only 'suits for violation of contracts' may be brought under Section 301 and since the claim alleged in the complaint is one for tortious conspiracy, the claim is not maintainable thereunder and the Court is without jurisdiction in the absence of diversity of citizenship.

 It may be acknowledged that the complaint fails to contain the 'short and plain statement' required under Rule 8(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. and that the claim is obscured by references to conspiracy and tortious conduct on the part of Local 977 acting in concert with the other two defendants who are not named with it in this first claim. Nevertheless, it contains the elements of a claim for violation by Local 977 of its collective bargaining agreement with plaintiff. The allegations sufficiently set forth the contract, due performance by plaintiff, breach of Local 977's obligations thereunder, and, finally, damages. The references to evidentiary matter, while unnecessary for the purposes of setting forth the claim, do not detract from the gist of the claim for breach of contract against Local 977, the sole defendant. The claim is within Section 301 of the Act and diversity of citizenship is not necessary thereunder.

 The motion to dismiss the first claim against Local 977 is denied but without prejudice to any motion which the defendant may deem appropriate to require plaintiff to state, as required by the rules, a claim based upon the contract, its breach and damages.

 II

 The second claim seeks recovery against all three defendants. In addition to the allegations of the first claim, the complaint charges that Local 259 and the International had knowledge of the agreement between plaintiff and Local 977 and the latter's status as exclusive bargaining ...


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