For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jacobs, J.
This is an appeal under Rule 4:2-2(a) (1), certified by this court on its own motion, from a preliminary injunction entered in the Chancery Division.
The plaintiff Naylor was a member and officer of Division 851 of the Grand International Division of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and in January 1950 was elected chairman of the local committee of adjustment for a term of three years. The numerous other plaintiffs are firemen and engineers in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railroad and were members of Division 851. For many years claims for extra pay were being asserted by firemen, trainmen and engineers against the railroad for service in operating its trains on tracks of foreign railroads on the Delaware River waterfront. In 1948 settlements of these claims were made between the railroad and the brotherhoods of firemen and trainmen, and a settlement was offered to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. On April 23, 1951 Division 851 voted to accept the settlement but thereafter Naylor announced that he would not approve the settlement; he asserted such authority under resolution, division 22, which
states that "no agreement shall be made without the approval in writing from the Local Chairman or Local Chairmen of the seniority district or seniority districts."
On May 3, 1951 Naylor instituted an action in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking to enjoin the railroad from proceeding with the proposed settlement without his approval; he asserts that he took this action under the authority of Standing Rule 48(c) of the brotherhood which provides that every member grants to the duly authorized representatives, which include local chairmen and others, power to handle his claims against the railroad and that such power shall include authority to submit his claims "for determination to any person, court, or board or other tribunal provided by law or otherwise as may be deemed necessary or advisable by such authorized representatives." Thereafter a member of Division 851 filed charges within the division against Naylor, alleging that he had violated certain statutes of the brotherhood, including section 93 which provides that any member who, without exhausting his remedies within the brotherhood, submits to the civil courts "any case in controversy arising within the Organization, and for which the laws of the Brotherhood provide a means of settlement" shall be expelled. Pursuant to these charges Naylor was temporarily removed from office, but the prescribed procedure had admittedly not been followed and J. P. Shields, the grand chief engineer of the brotherhood set the proceedings aside. The defendants assert that Shields' authority in this regard rests upon section 6(c) of the brotherhood's constitution which permits him to review "the records of any trial conducted in a Division when same is brought to his attention by any Division or member."
On May 28, 1951 new charges, based on the institution of his action in the United States District Court, were filed against Naylor. An investigating committee reported that there was evidence to substantiate the charge under section 93 but Naylor stated that he "was pleading not guilty and
offering evidence to support his position" and the division by a vote of 44 to 9 rejected the report. The plaintiffs assert that there was no actual trial and that the rejection of the committee's report effectively terminated the matter; they rely upon section 73(b) of the brotherhood's statutes which provides that "If the Committee reports sufficient reasons for proceeding with trial and same is rejected by the Division, that shall end the proceedings unless charges are renewed." Nevertheless, a report on the matter was sent to Shields who, by letter dated July 5, 1951, set aside the Division's action and directed that it find Naylor guilty of disloyalty under section 93 and expel him from the brotherhood. In the same letter Shields advised that if the division did not comply with his instructions its charter would be suspended. At a meeting of the division, Shields' letter was rejected. Under date of August 8, 1951 Shields again wrote to the division repeating the directions in his letter of July 5, 1951 which he requested be "read in open meeting." His letter was not read at the next meeting of the division, and by letters dated August 14, 1951 Shields removed Naylor from his office as local chairman and expelled him from membership for violation of section 93, and revoked the charter of Division 851 on the stated ground, under section 6(e) of the brotherhood's constitution, that it had "become so demoralized as to constitute and be a detriment to the Brotherhood." The plaintiffs assert that this action was taken maliciously, illegally and without jurisdiction.
In his letter of August 14, 1951 to the division, Shields stated that "Loyal former members of Division 851 are to be transferred to Division 109." On February 14, 1952 a charter was issued to a new division known as 763 and those members of 851 who actually applied for membership in this new division were admitted. On April 28, 1952 the brotherhood entered into a union shop agreement with the railroad which stipulated that all engineers shall become members of the brotherhood and shall maintain such membership; this stipulation is, however, not applicable when membership
is denied or terminated for any reason other than non-payment of dues, fees or assessments. Most of the plaintiffs never became members of Division 109 or Division 763 and, on the contrary, all the plaintiffs still claim to be members of Division 851 and hold regular monthly meetings. In their amended and supplemental complaint in the Chancery Division they seek restoration of the charter of Division 851, and damages, and Naylor seeks nullification of his ouster as member and officer of Division 851, and damages. A motion to dismiss the complaint was denied and the defendants filed their answer. Thereafter the plaintiffs applied for a preliminary injunction claiming that, in view of the brotherhood's union shop agreement with the railroad, their employment was endangered if they did not disavow Division 851 and join a rival division, thereby destroying or impairing the subject matter of their action. On July 3, 1952 Judge Haneman entered an order that, pending trial, the defendant brotherhood be enjoined from reporting to the railroad under the union shop agreement that the plaintiffs are not members of the brotherhood. This order was conditioned upon the plaintiffs' payment into court of the amount of dues payable to the Grand International Division of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the General Committee of Adjustment for the Pennsylvania Lines-East. The brotherhood duly appealed and in support advances the following contentions: (1) The Railway Labor Act ...