The complaint seeks instruction regarding the disposition of a welfare fund created and arising out of a contract between an employer and a union. A contract regulating the wages, hours and other conditions of employment for all employees of L. E. Carpenter & Co., at its Newark and Wharton plants was entered into between the employer and Artificial Leather and Rubber Goods Workers Union, Local #20389, for a term of one year from September 28, 1946. Simultaneously therewith, a supplemental agreement was entered into between the employer and the union creating a welfare fund contributions to which consisted of payments "by the Employer of 5% of the total wages of the employees, excluding the bonus moneys earned. It is understood that such payments shall be effective April 1, 1946, and shall continue in full force and effect for the duration of this agreement."
Under the welfare agreement, the trustees were to be four in number; two designated by the accredited bargaining representative
of the qualifying employees, and two nominated, selected and appointed by the employer. The plaintiffs are the trustees representing the employees; the defendants are the cotrustees nominated by the employer. Other defendants are the union and some individual employees.
The contract of employment which terminated on September 28, 1947 has not been renewed. By virtue of such termination, two things happened, viz.; contributions to the welfare fund ceased, and the number of beneficiaries, namely, employees qualified to participate in the fund, became fixed.
There remains the sum of $25,643.40 on deposit in the National Union Bank of Dover, N.J., to the credit of the four trustees, representing the balance of the welfare fund on the date of the termination of the agreement. By this proceeding, instruction is sought respecting the disposition of the fund.
By order of this court, Federal Labor Union #24376, which is the present collective bargaining agent of the production and maintenance employees of the employer, and a number of individual defendants who are present employees, have been permitted to intervene.
The parties agree that this Court has inherent jurisdiction over trusts, the subject matter of this suit. Feld v. Kantrowitz , 102 N.J. Eq. 307 (E. & A. 1927). It is conceded that the disposition of the fund depends on the nature of the trust created by the welfare agreement; whether active or passive. If it is passive, it should be terminated and the corpus distributed. If it is not passive the Court cannot decree termination. Rosenbaum v. Garrett , 57 N.J. Eq. 186 (Ch. 1898), Beideman v. Sparks , 61 N.J. Eq. 226 (Ch. 1901), affirmed 64 N.J. Eq. 374 (E. & A. 1902), Supreme Lodge, K. of P. v. Rutzler , 87 N.J. Eq. 342 (E. & A. 1917), Zelley v. Zelley , 101 N.J. Eq. 37 (Ch. 1927), Martin v. Martin , 106 N.J. Eq. 258 (Ch. 1930).
In construing the trust, the court must, of course, seek to effectuate the object and intention of the parties. Woods v. Woods , 102 N.J. Eq. 502 (Ch. 1928), reversed 105 N.J. Eq. 205 (E. & A. 1929), but not on this point. DeBrabant v. Commercial Trust Co. , 113 N.J. Eq. 215 (Ch. 1933). An
examination of the agreement in the instant case leads to the conclusion that the ...