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Cordey China Co. v. United Mine Workers of America

Decided: April 30, 1953.

CORDEY CHINA CO., A CORPORATION OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, DISTRICT 50, EDWARD J. HICKEY, OTTO HARTMAN, JOHN L. STRYCHARZ, HARRY EDWIN SERVIS, SHELDON JACKSON, HELEN MARGARET SEEFELT, DEFENDANTS



Ewart, J.s.c.

Ewart

This suit arises out of a labor dispute at the plant of the plaintiff Cordey China Co., a body corporate, situate in Hamilton Township, Mercer County. Plaintiff now is and has for some years been engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling novelty and art china and has a normal complement of about 85 employees. Its products move in the channels of interstate commerce.

On March 26, 1953 defendants called a strike at plaintiff's plant, have maintained a picket line in front of the plant since that date to the present time, and by reason thereof plaintiff has lost the services of all but 18 of its employees, deliveries of material to the plant have been in part halted by reason of the refusal of union truck drivers to cross the picket line, plaintiff's business has fallen off 75% or more compared with normal operations, many orders for the plaintiff's products have been cancelled by its customers by reason of the plaintiff's inability to manufacture and deliver, and

the plaintiff corporation is suffering substantial damage by reason of its inability to operate normally and to manufacture and produce the products upon which its continued operation and existence depend.

The picketing has been peaceful and has not been marked by any violence or threats of violence, so far as the proofs disclose, although the very existence of the picket line has had a certain coercive effect, both upon employees afraid to cross the picket line and upon union truck drivers who formerly delivered materials to the plaintiff's plant.

The pickets have carried placards reading: "Plant on strike for union recognition. District 50, UMWA."

So far as disclosed by the proofs, the employees of the plaintiff's plant were not organized nor were they represented by any union prior to the present controversy which began in February of this year. On February 4 and February 6, 1953, organizers of the defendant union appeared at the plant, interviewed and talked with employees as they left the plant, and met with management of the plant for the first time on or about February 6, 1953 at which time the representatives of the defendant union informed management that it had a substantial majority of the employees signed up, offered to produce the cards signed by the employees, and requested an election to select a bargaining representative for the employees to be held either under the State or Federal Mediation Service, or under the supervision of the Honest Ballot Association. The proofs are uncontradicted that at the first meeting early in February between representatives of the U.M.W. and of management, approximately 50 out of a total of 85 employees had signed cards indicating their desire that the defendant union be their bargaining representative.

A Mr. Cybis was president of the plaintiff corporation, but was incapacitated by reason of illness to attend to the duties of his office or to be present at the plaintiff's plant during the most of the negotiations between the union representatives and management heretofore and hereinafter referred to. A Mr. Harry Greenberg had been brought in as comptroller

of the plaintiff's plant about the middle of December of 1952, had acted in that capacity and also in charge of personnel after January 1, 1953; and Greenberg carried on negotiations with representatives of the defendant union until President Cybis was able to return to the plaintiff's plant and take charge about April 1, 1953. However, Greenberg had been given full authority to carry on negotiations on or about February 16, 1953. Before that date he was compelled to consult with President Cybis at the latter's home and had no authority to arrive at any agreement with the defendant union. The proofs do not disclose any disagreement between plaintiff corporation and its employees concerning hours of employment, working conditions, rates of pay, or other specific matters. The defendant union demanded only that it be recognized as the bargaining representative of plaintiff's employees. And the strike called by the defendant union on March 26, 1953 and the picket line established on that date and maintained continuously since that date was for the sole purpose of compelling recognition by the plaintiff of the defendant union as the sole bargaining agent of the employees of the plaintiff corporation. And in that connection, the representatives of the union requested and offered to submit to an election to be held under the auspices of either the State Mediation Service, or the Federal Mediation Service, or the Honest Ballot Association.

President Cybis, speaking through his representative Mr. Greenberg, and on later occasions speaking for himself, offered to recognize as bargaining agent and deal with any union selected by the employees, providing the union had qualified under the provisions of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (Taft-Hartley).

It was admitted that the defendant union has never qualified under the provisions of the act in question by filing copies of its constitution, financial statements, and non-Communist affidavits by its officers.

To complicate the situation in which the plaintiff found itself, the National Brotherhood of Operative Potters, an A.F.L. union, represented by a Mr. Solon and by Mr.

Wheatley, intervened as early as February 13, informed plaintiff corporation's representatives that it had a number of members among plaintiff's employees, offered to participate in an election under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board for the purpose of selecting a bargaining representative, informed plaintiff's representatives that it would not consent to an election where the defendant union's name appeared upon the ballot for the reason that the defendant union had never qualified under the Taft-Hartley Act, and Mr. Wheatley of the Potters Union strongly stated his position and informed the plaintiff as early as February 19, 1953 that if the plaintiff accorded recognition to the defendant union as bargaining representative of its employees, then the Potters Union would throw pickets around the plaintiff's plant and do everything it could to block the plaintiff's operations and to block recognition of the defendant union. And Wheatley further informed plaintiff's representatives that it would not agree to a consent election with a ballot on which appeared the name of the defendant union, because of non-compliance by the defendant union with the requirements of the Taft-Hartley Act, but would only consent to an election under the auspices of the N.L.R.B.

Mr. Greenberg, representing the plaintiff corporation, was in constant and almost daily touch with representatives of the defendant union, as well as with Mr. Ballantine of the State Mediation Service and Mr. Walsh of the Federal Mediation Service. President Cybis also attended two or more meetings prior to his return to the plant on April 1. Plaintiff's representatives were informed by Mr. Walsh of the Federal Mediation Service that he could do nothing under the circumstances, and Mr. Ballantine of the State Mediation Service informed plaintiff's representatives that he could only conduct an election with the consent of all interested parties. And Mr. Greenberg, representing the plaintiff corporation, ...


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