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Milk Drivers and Dairy Employees v. Cream-O-Land Dairy

Decided: February 6, 1956.

MILK DRIVERS AND DAIRY EMPLOYEES, LOCAL 680, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND CROSS-RESPONDENT,
v.
CREAM-O-LAND DAIRY, A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, AND DAIRY WORKERS ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS AND CROSS-APPELLANTS, AND MILK DRIVERS AND DAIRY EMPLOYEES LOCAL 680, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT, V. CREAM-O-LAND DAIRY, A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Clapp, S.j.a.d.

Clapp

We have before us here an appeal and a cross-appeal from the Chancery Division, an appeal from the Law Division and a petition invoking the original jurisdiction of this court and seeking an injunction in aid of the appeals.

The litigation was commenced in the Chancery Division by an action brought by the Milk Drivers and Dairy Employees, Local 680, affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, American Federation of Labor. The plaintiff Local seeks through that action: first, specific performance of a collective bargaining agreement, designated the New York Metropolitan Milk Agreement effective October 24, 1953, and an agreement dated October 26, 1953 between the plaintiff and the defendant employer, Cream-O-Land Dairy, allegedly binding the employer to the former agreement; and, second, a declaratory judgment pronouncing these agreements (and another agreement that need not be mentioned) to be valid, existing and binding obligations. In this action the Dairy Workers Association, a union presently representing all of Cream-O-Land's employees (perhaps 20 in number, excluding office and supervisory personnel), intervened as a defendant. The trial court denied specific performance, from which denial plaintiff appeals; but the court declared the New York Metropolitan Milk Agreement to be a valid, existing and binding obligation between plaintiff and Cream-O-Land, from which declaration defendants cross-appeal. We deal with plaintiff's appeal under Section V of this opinion and with the cross-appeal under Section VI.

After securing the above judgment, plaintiff brought an action in the Law Division to compel the defendant employer

to arbitrate certain demands allegedly arising under the above-mentioned New York Metropolitan Milk Agreement effective October 24, 1953. The trial court ordered arbitration as to the plaintiff's following contentions, all as stated in the following paragraphs of the judgment entered in that action:

"1. That the defendant shall dismiss from its employment all employees who are within the unit covered by the collective bargaining agreement between said parties who are not members in good standing of the Union.

2. That the defendant pay to all employees within the unit covered by the said collective bargaining agreement, retroactive to October 24, 1953, the wages required to be paid by said agreement, including the overtime rates for hours worked in excess of eight hours per day for inside workers and in excess of forty hours per week for all employees.

3. That the defendant pay to the Trustees of the Milk Industry -- Drivers and Dairy Employees Unions Welfare and Pension Trust Fund, a sum equal to fifteen cents for each straight time hour during which any of said employees was employed since 4:01 p.m. on October 24, 1953, and for each such hour thereafter worked by said employees.

4. That in the employment of any new employee, the defendant shall comply with the provisions of paragraph 4(c) and 4(d) of said agreement.

5. That the defendant provide for each and every employee in its employment on or after October 24, 1953, the payment for holidays, for time worked on 'days off' required by the agreement, the vacation rights, or payment in lieu thereof, as required by Schedule D of the Contract."

The employer appealed from that judgment. We deal with this appeal also under Section VI of this opinion.

While these appeals were pending, the employer, seeking to avail itself of the provisions of the New York Metropolitan Milk Agreement effective October 24, 1953, concededly gave notice to the plaintiff, dated July 11, 1955, attempting to prevent an automatic renewal of that agreement on October 24, 1955. Plaintiff thereafter filed a petition in this court, asking us for an injunction which would restrain the employer from terminating or attempting to terminate the agreement. This petition we deal with under Section IV of the opinion.

There are three preliminary questions which arise in connection with each of the problems before us.

I.

HAVE THE STATE COURTS JURISDICTION?

This point has been passed by the parties.

A very substantial part of Cream-O-Land's business is interstate in character. Accordingly, Cream-O-Land and later the defendant, Dairy Workers Association, applied to the National Labor Relations Board in 1954 to have the Board determine which union (the plaintiff or the defendant Dairy Workers Association) had the right to represent Cream-O-Land's employees. The Board, after a hearing lasting (allegedly) two days, held that the amount of Cream-O-Land's interstate business was insufficient to meet the criteria established in its regulations as a condition for the exercise of its jurisdiction. The Board was concerned merely with the question whether the plaintiff represents or may represent the employees; whereas the issues presented to us go beyond that matter and perhaps are not even cognizable by the Board.

But whether or not these issues were cognizable there, we conclude that the state courts have power to furnish the relief sought in the proceedings before us. See in general Busch & Sons, Inc., v. Retail Union of N.J. Local 108, 15 N.J. 226, 233, 234 (1954); Browning King Co. of N.Y. v. Local 195, 34 N.J. Super. 13, 31 (App. Div. 1955), and authorities cited; Rose, The Labor Management Relations Act and the State's Power to Grant Relief , 39 Va. L. Rev. 765 (1953).

II.

DOES FEDERAL OR STATE LAW CONTROL OUR DETERMINATIONS HERE?

Is there a federal substantive law displacing state law generally in connection with all aspects of the enforcement of collective bargaining agreements? See Cox, Federalism in the

Law of Labor Relations , 67 Harv. L. Rev. 1297, 1335-1339 (1954); cf. Association of Westinghouse Salaried Emp. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp. , 348 U.S. 437, 452-461, 75 S. Ct. 489, 99 L. Ed. 510, 520-525 (1955), stating the view of three Justices that there is no such federal law; for the differing view of three other Justices, see 348 U.S. 463-465, 75 S. Ct. 502-503, 99 L. Ed. 526, 527; Annotation , 99 L. Ed. 529, 533.

We conclude that it makes no difference here whether federal or state substantive law governs. With respect to the issues before us, the federal and state law, as we conceive it to be, is alike.

III.

HAS THE PLAINTIFF AUTHORITY TO SUE FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT IN THE CHANCERY AND LAW DIVISION ACTIONS, AND TO APPLY FOR AN INJUNCTION FROM US, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT ...


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