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United Public Workers of America v. Fennimore

Decided: January 3, 1950.

UNITED PUBLIC WORKERS OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARTHUR H. FENNIMORE AND GUSTAVE V. LAUCH, DEFENDANTS



Jayne, J.s.c.

Jayne

That which at first sight appears to be a discordancy in judicial decisions often vanishes upon recognizing the diversity of the basic facts of the cases. A slight dissimilarity in the factual circumstances may control the choice of competing legal principles. So here.

The trade union known as Local 423, United Public Workers of America was affiliated with the plaintiff, a parent organization, United Public Workers of America, until January 6, 1949, at which time its entire membership in attendance at a regular meeting unanimously voted to sever its alliance and to affiliate with the Utility Workers Union of America, from which it received a charter as Local 423 of the latter organization.

It seems evident that the dissension that disjointed the former attachment arose from the disinclination and refusal of the plaintiff to submit the non-Communist affidavits and some other forms required by the Management Relations Act of 1947, more popularly known as the Taft-Hartley Act. The position taken in this regard by the plaintiff is said to have operated so disadvantageously to the members of the local as to constitute a breach of duty justifying the secession.

On January 7, 1949, which it will be noted was the day following the meeting, the plaintiff, acting through its president, suspended the charter of the local, appointed an administrator

of its affairs, and commanded the defendant Lauch to deliver to the administrator "all books, moneys, properties, Charter and Seal" of the local.

On January 13, 1949, the president of the plaintiff gave notice to the local and particularly to the defendant Fennimore that a hearing of certain specified charges against the local would be held on February 3, 1949. The defendants did not attend, and it is conceded that no hearing was conducted.

It is my understanding that all of the former members of the Public Workers Local are now members of the Utility Workers Union, and that the former local is out of existence and has been since the meeting of January 6, 1949.

I take the constitution of the United Public Workers of America C.I.O. to be the contract of the former affiliation. Harris v. Geier , 112 N.J. Eq. 99, 164 A. 50 (Ch. 1932); Cameron v. International Alliance, etc. , 119 N.J. Eq. 577, 183 A. 157 (E. & A. 1936).

In Article 8 the following sections may be found:

" Section 21. A Local Union shall not withdraw from the International Union or dissolve so long as seven (7) members in good standing object thereto. Three months' notice of intention to withdraw shall be given to the International Executive Board, and, upon such withdrawal, title to all monies, books, seals and other property of the Local Union shall be vested in and be delivered to the International Union.

" Section 22. All the funds and property of each Local Union shall be deemed held in trust for the benefit of its members in their collective capacity and shall be used only as provided for in this Constitution under the supervision of the International Executive Board. In the event of dispute within a Local Union as to the right to or custody of funds or property, the decision of the ...


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