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A. H. BULL S.S. CO. v. SEAFARERS' INTL. UNION OF N

September 27, 1957

A. H. BULL STEAMSHIP CO., Plaintiff,
v.
SEAFARERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA, Atlantic and Gulf District, AFL-CIO, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRUCHHAUSEN

The plaintiff, an operator of ships engaged in the transportation business, instituted this action against the defendant, Labor Union, for specific performance of a collective bargaining agreement, entered into between the parties and for other relief. The subject motion is for provisional remedies, enforcing the agreement, pendente lite.

The facts, not in dispute, in substance, are as follows:

 1. That the parties entered into a collective bargaining agreement in October 1956, which will not expire by its terms until September 30, 1958.

 2. That the agreement and predecessor agreements contain a provision that there shall no strike, lockouts or stoppages of work while the provisions of the agreement are in effect.

 3. That the defendant shall furnish to the plaintiff capable and competent personnel in ample time to prevent any delay in the scheduled departure of its vessels.

 4. That on August 19, 1957, the defendant called a strike against the plaintiff and that the strike has been in existence ever since.

 On June 17, 1957, the defendant served upon the plaintiff a notice to open negotiations for a revision of wages and other monetary matters and negotiations were had, which were unsuccessful.

 The plaintiff contends that the defendant entered into the negotiations in bad faith and that its motive was to use them to further its attack on American Coal Shipping Inc., which has taken over stock control of the plaintiff. That claim has no particular relevance at this time.

 The said collective bargaining agreement fails to clothe the defendant with the right to strike or to breach the agreement for any of the reasons advanced by the plaintiff. The only reference therein to the opening of negotiations for changes in the agreement is that they may be discussed but no right was thereby conferred upon either party to terminate the agreement on that account. The provision so referred to is that 'applications by either party to open negotiations for changes in the wage scale or any monetary matters any time during the life of this agreement shall not be deemed cause for termination of this agreement.'

 The work stoppages have caused and are causing serious loss, damage and irreparable injury to the plaintiff for which it has no adequate legal remedy.

 The principal question herein pertains to the interpretation of certain provisions of the 1932 Norris-LaGuardia Act and of the later act, the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947. The Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932, (29 U.S.C.A. § 101 et seq.) particularly Section 104 thereof, sets forth in substance that no federal court shall issue any order restraining a person or persons, involved in a labor dispute, from ceasing or refusing to perform any work, whereas Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 (29 U.S.C.A. § 185) conferred jurisdiction upon the federal courts in suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization engaged in interstate commerce, regardless of the amount in controversy or the citizenship of the parties.

 It will be recalled that in 1932, during the depth of the economic depression, collective bargaining in the labor field was practically non-existent. The legislative policy, proclaimed in Section 102 of the 1932 Norris-LaGuardia Act was that workers should be unhampered in organizing. It was stated therein that 'the individual unorganized worker is commonly helpless to exercise actual liberty of contract and to protect his freedom of labor, and thereby to obtain acceptable terms and conditions of employment.'

 The said 1932 Act was aimed at correcting 'existing abuses of the injunctive remedy in labor disputes. Federal courts had been drawn into the field under the guise either of enforcing federal statutes, principally the Sherman Act, or through diversity of citizenship jurisdiction.' Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Chicago River and Indiana Railroad Co., 353 U.S. 30, 40, 77 S. Ct. 635, 640, 1 L. Ed. 2d 622.

 The aforementioned Section 104 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act thus removed jurisdiction that the federal courts possessed, though by circuitous route. Employers, hampered by local law, would work their way into federal courts, before the decision in Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S. Ct. 817, 82 L. Ed. 1188, and ...


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