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Busch & Sons Inc. v. Retail Union of New Jersey

Decided: October 1, 1953.


Eastwood, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J.A.D.


[27 NJSuper Page 433] The Chancery Division issued a blanket injunction restraining appellants, labor union and individuals,

from picketing respondent's place of business. This appeal followed.

Busch & Sons, Inc. is engaged in the retail jewelry business in interstate commerce. It operates three stores in New Jersey, the principal one at 875 Broad Street, Newark, and the other two at High Street and Springfield Avenue, Newark, and in Summit. Out-of-state stores are maintained in Alabama and Texas.

Early in April 1951 appellant Retail Union of New Jersey, Local 108, C.I.O., undertook organizational activities among Busch's employees. At this time there were 37 employees in all in the three stores, and according to appellant Irving Rosenberg, the director of organization of the union, 12 of them had signed applications for membership. Since the union maintained that only certain workers, 15 in number, were eligible for an appropriate bargaining unit, membership of the majority of these provided the basis for its demand to be considered the exclusive bargaining agent of all those in the unit.

On April 9, 1951 Rosenberg wrote to the employer claiming that "a majority of your New Jersey employees have joined our union and have authorized us to represent them in collective bargaining with you." The letter requested that the union be recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent of the employees and asked for a conference on the subject. In the afternoon of April 10 such a conference was held.

It appeared that on April 9 the employer had discharged two employees, giving economy as the reason. At the meeting the union claimed that these discharges were on account of union activities and not for the assigned ground.

During the discussion the union presented two demands, one, that these employees be reinstated, and the other, that it be accepted as the bargaining representative of the workers. The company denied that the discharges were for organizational activities. It suggested that an unfair labor practice complaint should be filed with the National Labor Relations Board and asserted that it would abide by the result reached

by the board. With respect to recognition as the collective bargaining agent, it maintained that a majority of the employees in the unit it deemed appropriate for bargaining had not joined the union and it proposed that an application be made to the same board for an election to decide the question. The proposals were rejected and an impasse was reached. On April 10, eight of the Newark employees went on strike and with other persons, including, for some time at least, the two discharged workers, began to picket the Broad Street store.

The picketing took on an unlawful character and an application for restraint was made. After hearing, the Chancery Division found it to be unlawful in that it consisted of:

"Mass picketing in front of, and in close proximity to the main entrance of plaintiff's said store and at the rear entrance of plaintiff's said store on William Street in such manner as to block, hinder and prevent persons attempting or desiring to enter or leave the plaintiff's store from entering or leaving said store; massing, crowding and collecting in such manner and in such numbers in front of the main entrance of complainant's said store on Broad and William Street as to intimidate persons having lawful business with plaintiff from entering plaintiff's store; obstructing and interfering with customers or prospective customers of plaintiff, desiring or attempting to enter or leave plaintiff's store, for the purpose of doing business with plaintiff at the said store."

As a consequence, on October 9, 1951 an injunction was issued restraining this conduct, limiting the number of pickets and regulating the manner of the picketing.

Additional conferences were held in an effort to adjust the problems. The company insisted that the discharges were for economy reasons and asserted that the two youngest employees in point of service were the ones separated from employment, even though they were more competent than some of the others. And it offered to reinstate them and allow the union to designate two others to be discharged in their place. The offer was refused. In addition, there was talk about having the New Jersey State Board of Mediation take charge of the entire matter, including an election, but this too was not fruitful. Here the record seems to indicate that

agreement could not be reached as to the appropriate bargaining unit, and further that the company wished to invoke the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board for both election and any claim of unfair labor practice in connection with the discharges.

About November 15, 1951 the employer filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board, seeking an election, and it sought to have the employees of all three New Jersey stores declared to be the appropriate bargaining unit for the purpose. This petition was dismissed. Then a second petition was filed asking ...

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