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Machine Printers Beneficial Association of United States v. Merrill Textile Print Works Inc.

Decided: February 15, 1951.

MACHINE PRINTERS BENEFICIAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MERRILL TEXTILE PRINT WORKS, INC., A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, OR IN THE ALTERNATIVE, MERRILL TEXTILE PRINTERS, INC., DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



Freund, Proctor and Rogers. The opinion of the court was delivered by Freund, S.j.a.d.

Freund

The plaintiff appeals from an order staying further proceedings until an arbitration is held under the provisions of an employment contract between the parties. The question is whether the controversy which has arisen is, under the agreement, arbitrable. The facts and the pertinent principles of law are not in dispute. Our concern is the application of the legal principles to the facts.

The defendant operated a textile printing plant in Paterson, New Jersey, until April 28, 1950, when it discontinued its business, terminated the employment of its employees and commenced the liquidation of its plant and other assets. On the premise that the collective bargaining agreement between the plaintiff union and the defendant employer constituted a contract of employment from January 3, 1949, to December 31, 1949, and thereafter for another year, at a stipulated annual salary, this suit was brought on June 22, 1950, on behalf of one of the employees, a journeyman printer, to recover unpaid wages from the time of cessation of employment, and for damages for breach and repudiation of the contract of employment for the balance of the year. The defendant moved for arbitration contending that the termination of employment was a "discharge" and that the contract provided for arbitration in the event of disagreement between

the parties relating to discharge or wages not specifically covered by the agreement.

The relevant portions of the contract dated January 11, 1949, are as follows:

As to employment:

"Section III. Salary Guaranty. All members of the ASSOCIATION employed at the beginning of this period are hired on an annual basis and shall receive an annual salary payable in equal weekly installments as set forth in Section I of this agreement and any member employed after January 1 shall be hired on a pro rata basis for the balance of the contract year * * *.

Section XV. In extension of the understanding * * * there shall be no strike, work stoppage, slowdown, interruption or impeding of work for the duration of this agreement. * * *

Section XVIII. This agreement * * * shall be in full force and effect from and after the 3rd day of January, 1949, up to and including the 31st day of December, 1949; and it is further agreed by and between the parties hereto, that unless either of them shall give to the other sixty (60) days' notice in writing of an intention to terminate this agreement at the end of the term hereof, this agreement shall continue for a further period of one year, and thereafter from year to year unless either of the parties shall give to the other sixty (60) days' notice in writing of an intention to terminate this agreement at the end of any given year."

As to arbitration:

"Section IX. Whenever, during the life of this agreement, any question relating to the discharge of a journeyman printer, or to wages and working conditions which are not specifically covered by this agreement, cannot be agreed upon between representatives of the COMPANY and the ...


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