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THERMOID CO. v. UNITED RUBBER WORKERS

February 13, 1947

THERMOID CO.
v.
UNITED RUBBER WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL NO. 83, C.I.O., et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: FORMAN

This action was brought to recover damages which plaintiff claims to have suffered by reason of the defendants' failure to comply with the provisions of Section 8 of the War Labor Disputes Act, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 1508. The defendants are the United Rubber Workers of America, C.I.O. (the 'International'); Local No. 83 of that organization (the 'Local'); Herbert Bennett and O. H. Bosley, agents of the 'International'; John A. Jones and Joseph Bystrycki, local union officers and employees of plaintiff (the 'local union officers'); and Helen Papiez, Jenny Brusda, Helen Jaworski, and Julia Crush, local union members and employees of plaintiff (the 'defendant operatives').

The allegations of the complaint are, in summary as follows: The plaintiff is a Delaware corporation with a plant near Trenton, New Jersey where it manufactures articles which are used in the production of aircraft facilities, machinery, and tools under war contracts. On January 12, 1945, it entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the 'International' and the 'Local' representing its employees in the Fan Belt Department. This contract, in part, prohibited lockouts, strikes, stoppages, sympathy strikes, or slowdowns. On August 20, 1945, while the agreement was in effect, the plaintiff cancelled certain piecework values for work on which the 'defendant operatives' were engaged and undertook new time studies and the calculation of new piece-work values. The new rates were announced on September 5, 1945 and thereupon a written grievance was filed with the plaintiff, on behalf of the 'defendant operatives,' complaining of the new piece-work rates. On September 11, 1945, while that matter was under consideration, the 'defendant operatives' 'walked away from the plant and did not return to work.' On September 13, 1945, the entire personnel of the collective bargaining unit was on strike. Picket lines were formed and constantly maintained until October 25, 1945, resulting in a complete cessation of production in the plant during that period. Plaintiff claims that under the definition of the Act it is a war contractor and all the defendants, other than the 'defendant operatives,' are individually and collectively representatives of the employees.

 The complaint states that defendants 'willfully and knowingly wholly disregarded their duties * * * and with the intent to injure and damage the plaintiff, violated their duties under the War Labor Disputes Act' -- the 'International,' the 'Local,' the 'International's' agents, and the 'local union officers' -- by failing and refusing to give notice of the labor dispute, as required by Section 8(a) (1) of the Act; and the defendants who were employees of the plaintiff, by failing and refusing to continue at work. The defendants are further charged with the establishment of the picket line and the consequent interference with access to the plaintiff's plant. The injuries allegedly suffered by the plaintiff by reason of these acts are generally described, and the complaint then prays for judgment against the defendants for $ 175,000.

 The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint on various grounds:

 1. On behalf of all the defendants, it is urged that the complaint fails to state a claim for relief, for the following reasons:

 a. Section 8 of the War Labor Disputes Act is applicable only in wartime and only with respect to labor disputes which threaten seriously to interrupt war production. The matters set forth in the complaint are not alleged to have occurred in wartime, and neither interrupted nor seriously threatened to interrupt war production.

 b. Section 8 is unconstitutional and in contravention of the Fifth and Thirteenth Amendments to the Constitution, and too vague, uncertain, and indefinite.

 c. The complaint demonstrates that the plaintiff provoked the stoppage of work by its own actions.

 d. There is no sufficient allegation of combination or conspiracy among the defendants.

 2. On behalf of the non-employee defendants, it is urged that the complaint fails to state a claim for relief because no liability is imposed on them by Section 8, and no damage could have resulted from their failure to perform the obligations, if any, imposed on them by that section.

 3. On behalf of the 'International,' dismissal is urged for the following reasons:

 a. There are not sufficient allegations that it had knowledge of the matters alleged, that it sanctioned or authorized the stoppage, or that it participated in the stoppage.

 b. The 'International' was not a representative of the plaintiff's employees, within the meaning of Section 8.

 c. There is improper venue as to the 'International.'

 The defendants also request that the allegations in the complaint that each defendant was under a duty to refrain from causing or permitting a cessation of production be stricken, and that in the event any of the motions to dismiss are denied, a more definite statement or bill of particulars be furnished them.

 Upon certification to the Attorney General that a question as to constitutionality of an act of Congress was drawn in question by the motion to dismiss, the United States requested leave to intervene, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 401. Its motion was granted, and its pleading in intervention accepted and filed.

 The complaint is framed to allege a cause of action for damages under the War Labor Disputes Act, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, § 1501 et seq., and the following ...


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