On appeals from the Chancery Division to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Heher, Oliphant, Burling, Jacobs and Brennan. For reversal -- Justice Wachenfeld. The opinion of the court was delivered by Heher, J.
An issue common to both cases concerns the respective rights of the parties under a "check-off" provision of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by a general association of unions with the employer of members of a local union which later disaffiliated itself; and in one we also have the question of whether there was an effective exercise of the conceded power of secession.
Plaintiff is an "international" union comprising local unions of employees in the textile manufacturing and related industries. By separate agreements made with the Bellman
Brook Bleachery Company on October 29, 1951, to "take effect" as of the prior October 1st and continue to September 30, 1953, and with the Resistoflex Corporation on October 9, 1951, to continue until August 21, 1953, the plaintiff union was "recognized" as the "sole and exclusive bargaining agency" for certain of the employees of Bellman and Resistoflex; and the employers severally agreed to deduct from wages the union dues of such of its employees as should give written authorization for that course and make monthly remittance to plaintiff. Union membership was made a condition sine qua non of employment during the continuance of the agreement. The check-off authorizations were given in writing by the employees within the coverage of the agreements, subject to revocation under given conditions; and there was also an express acceptance of membership "in the Textile Workers Union of America, C.I.O."
On April 18, 1945 the plaintiff union was certified by the National Labor Relations Board as collective bargaining agent for Bellman's employees, and thereafter plaintiff chartered Local 707, TWUA-CIO as their local union. And Local 831 was chartered by plaintiff for the employees of Resistoflex.
On May 15, 1952, it is conceded, Local 707 effected a "valid" disaffiliation from the plaintiff union, and thereupon accepted a charter from the defendant United Textile Workers of America, A.F.L. On May 22d ensuing, the latter demanded of Bellman recognition as the bargaining agent of its employees, and on December 4 following, after election held, it was certified as such by the National Labor Relations Board.
Bellman deposited with the Clerk of the Superior Court the checked-off dues thereby put in controversy; and the Superior Court, by the judgment under review, allowed to the plaintiff union the dues checked off before the local's disaffiliation, and to the defendant AFL the dues so collected thereafter.
Bellman's agreement with plaintiff declared, Article IV, section 4, that the check-off was a "voluntary undertaking"
by Bellman for the "sole convenience and accommodation of the Union," and Bellman's "failure or neglect" to deduct such dues would place it under "no liability" to the plaintiff union.
On May 16, 1952, at a special meeting of Local 831, it was resolved that "we should get out of TWUA-CIO and affiliate with United Textile Workers AFL." The minutes of the meeting show that a vote on the ...