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In re New Jersey Bell Telephone Co.

Decided: August 8, 1950.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ARBITRATION BETWEEN NEW JERSEY BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY, A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, APPELLANT ON APPEAL, AND COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, NEW JERSEY TRAFFIC DIVISION NO. 55, CIO, RESPONDENT ON APPEAL, AND BOARD OF ARBITRATION CONSTITUTED UNDER CHAPTER 38, LAWS OF 1946; CHAPTERS 47 AND 75, LAWS OF 1947; CHAPTER 308, LAWS OF 1949 AND CHAPTER 14, LAWS OF 1950, AND WILLIAM HOPE MARTIN, PUBLIC MEMBER AND CHAIRMAN OF SAID BOARD; ARTHUR LESSER, JR., PUBLIC MEMBER OF SAID BOARD; ARTHUR R. LEWIS, PUBLIC MEMBER OF SAID BOARD; WILLIAM DUNN, LABOR MEMBER OF SAID BOARD; AND HAROLD W. LORD, INDUSTRY MEMBER OF SAID BOARD, AND THE NEW JERSEY STATE BOARD OF MEDIATION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY, ADDITIONAL RESPONDENTS ON APPEAL


McGeehan, Colie and Eastwood. The opinion of the court was delivered by McGeehan, S.j.a.d.

Mcgeehan

[9 NJSuper Page 114] This appeal is from an award of a statutory Board of Arbitration, made under the provisions of L. 1946, c. 38, as amended and supplemented by

L. 1947, c. 47; L. 1947, c. 75, and L. 1949, c. 308. New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, a public utility corporation incorporated under the laws of this State (hereinafter referred to as the "Company") is the appellant and Communications Workers of America, New Jersey Traffic Division No. 55, CIO (hereinafter referred to as the "Union"), is the respondent.

Following the expiration of a collective bargaining contract between the Company and the Union, a labor dispute involving the terms and conditions to be incorporated in a new collective bargaining contract arose between the Company and the Union. The dispute involved demands for changes in the wages, hours and working conditions of approximately eleven thousand telephone operators and other employees in the Traffic Department of the Company.

Pursuant to the provisions of sections 8 to 12, inclusive, of L. 1946, c. 38, then in effect (since repealed by L. 1950, c. 14), a fact-finding Panel was established to hear and make recommendations with respect to the issues in dispute between the Company and the Union. The Panel made its recommendations on February 20, 1950.

Collective bargaining between the Company and the Union was resumed following issuance of the Panel's recommendations, but no agreement was reached. The labor dispute continued and on March 1, 1950, the Governor, finding that the threat of a strike existed, took possession of the plant, equipment and facilities of the Company, pursuant to the provisions of the Act. Thereafter, the Governor appointed three persons and confirmed the designation of one person each by the Company and the Union to serve as members of a Board of Arbitration (hereinafter referred to as the "Board") to hear and determine the dispute between the Company and the Union.

The five members constituting the Board held hearings and received evidence with respect to the matters in dispute, and concluded the hearings on March 28, 1950. The order of the Board, dated April 19, 1950, was filed with the Governor

on April 20, 1950. This order was signed by all five members, but was endorsed with a notation that as to certain specified items of the order the Union member dissented and as to certain specified items the Company member dissented. On May 25, 1950, the "Findings of Fact and Decision" of the Board was filed; it was signed by the three public members and the Union member, but the signature of the Union member was accompanied with a notation "Except as indicated in accompanying Dissenting Opinion." On the same day the Company member filed a "Dissent and Findings" and the Union member filed a "Dissenting Opinion."

I.

The Company contends that the statute is unconstitutional because, by prohibiting strikes and compelling arbitration of labor disputes in public utilities, it conflicts with the authority of the Federal Government, Congress having preempted the field by enactment of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947. It is conceded that the identical question was presented in Van Riper v. Traffic Telephone Workers' Federation of N.J. , 2 N.J. 335 (1949), and that our Supreme Court there held that our statute is not in conflict with the federal law. The Company argues, however, that since the decision in the Van Riper case , the United States Supreme Court, in International Union of U.A.A. & A. v. O'Brien (70 S. Ct. 781, 94 L. Ed. (May 8, 1950)), has made it clear that the decision in the Van Riper case on this point cannot stand. But the point raised and decided in the Van Riper case was neither raised nor decided in the O'Brien case. In the latter case the constitutionality of the strike vote provision of the Michigan Labor Mediation Law was before the court and it was held unconstitutional because it conflicted with the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, as amended by the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947. The court there said the conflict existed because the federal statute permits strikes at a different and usually earlier time than the Michigan law and it does not require a majority

authorization for any strike and the bargaining unit established in accordance with federal law may be inconsistent with that required by the state regulation. We note, also, that the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 (29 U.S.C.A. , § 152(2)) expressly excludes "any state or political subdivision thereof" in defining "employer" as used in that Act. In this connection, our statute (L. 1947, c. 47, § 3, as amended by L. 1947, c. 75, § 4) provides that when the Governor seizes a utility, he does so "for the use and operation by the State of New Jersey in the public interest * * * and during the continuance of such possession, the relationship between the Government of the State of New Jersey and the persons employed at such public utility, except those who elect to quit such employment, shall be that of employer and employee; and during the continuance of such possession it shall be unlawful for any person employed at such plant or facility to participate in or aid in any strike * * * as a means of enforcing demands of employees against the State * * *."

The next contention is that the statute is unconstitutional because in delegating legislative power to an administrative agency it fixes standards which are so vague, indefinite, unlimited and unintelligible that the standards are not adequate. The statute (L. 1946, c. 38, as amended and supplemented by L. 1947, c. 47 and L. 1947, c. 75) before the court in the Van Riper case furnished no guide to the Board of Arbitration other than that it shall arbitrate "any and all disputes then existing between the public utility and the employees." In holding the statute unconstitutional because of the lack of adequate standards to guide the administrative agency in the ...


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