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Local Union No. 14 of United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of United States and Canada v. United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of United States and Canada

Decided: April 12, 1960.

LOCAL UNION NO. 14 OF THE UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING AND PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING AND PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, AND LOCAL UNION NO. 274 OF THE UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBING AND PIPEFITTING INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS



Price, Sullivan and Foley. The opinion of the court was delivered by Price, S.j.a.d.

Price

By this appeal plaintiff seeks to reverse a summary judgment, dismissing its complaint, entered on defendants' motions (R.R. 4:58-1 et seq.) in the Superior Court, Chancery Division. The record reveals a jurisdictional dispute between the plaintiff and defendant local unions. It basically projects the question whether the trial court properly adjudged that it was so apparent that plaintiff had, without justification, failed to exhaust its remedies within the defendant parent organization that it had no right to invoke the aid of the court.

Defendant, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (hereinafter designated United), is an international labor organization governed and regulated by its own constitution and by-laws. It charters local unions which, the record reveals, presently number approximately 760. Plaintiff and defendant locals were so created. Both locals are subject to the rules and regulations contained in the constitution and by-laws of United.

United has "sole and exclusive organizing jurisdiction over all plumbers and pipefitters' work within the American Federation of Labor." Within United there are "different craft classifications composed of journeymen with different skills" of which "plumber" and "pipefitter" are two. Plaintiff local and defendant local were "straight line" or "single craft" unions (embracing plumbers and pipefitters respectively) as distinguished from "combination" or "mixed local unions" embracing more than one craft within their membership. "Trade line agreements" were made between various locals including plaintiff and defendant.

Section 2 of the United constitution provided as follows:

"The jurisdiction of territory of the United Association embraces the United States and Canada, and its trade jurisdiction shall include

all branches of the pipe fitting industry. In it alone is vested the power to establish Local Unions, and its mandates must be obeyed at all times and under all circumstances. To the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada is reserved the right to decide all matters pertaining to trade and territorial jurisdiction of its affiliated Local Unions, and no Local Union is conceded territorial jurisdiction other than the current working day in said territory * * *."

Initially jurisdictional decisions are rendered by a General Organizer of United, working under the supervision of the General President. By the United constitution the General Organizers are clothed with "full power and authority to settle all disputes and grievances of any kind in or between local unions" when "directed by the General President." The General Organizers are given "full power and authority to suspend and revoke the charters of local unions" in accordance with the constitutional provisions, "when directed by and with the consent of the General President." In the event of a local's dissatisfaction with a General Organizer's decision, approved by the General President, involving an order of suspension or expulsion, the United constitution provides for an intermediate appeal to its General Executive Board, whose decision shall be final, save and except it "shall be subject to appeal to the following Convention."

By its complaint plaintiff charged that it entered into a contract with Kordulak Bros., Inc., for the performance of certain plumbing work at the plant of the Standard Oil Company in the City of Bayonne; that the work in progress included the installation of process piping, which "was and is equally within the trade jurisdiction of plumbers and of pipefitters and not exclusively within the trade jurisdiction of either"; that, despite the pendency of the contract between Kordulak Bros., Inc. and plaintiff, defendant local did "institute certain proceedings" before United wherein it denounced plaintiff "as exceeding its trade jurisdiction by the installation of the said process piping * * *"; that United permitted "itself to be wrongfully and unjustly induced

by the acts" of defendant local oppressively "to exercise and impose its discipline upon plaintiff," and with the threat of irreparable injury to plaintiff; that as a consequence United on July 28, 1959, "ordered that the plaintiff be suspended as a chartered local * * * unless * * * within fifteen days from the date" thereof it should advise United: (a) that it had complied with the decision that "process piping belongs to and is part of the trade jurisdiction" of the defendant local; (b) "comes under the jurisdiction" of the defendant local as "pipefitters work"; (c) that defendant local "has been chartered as a pipefitters local union with trade jurisdiction over commercial, domestic, and industrial pipefitting, including process piping"; (d) that plaintiff "will affirmatively state in writing * * * that its contract with Kordulak Bros. only covers plumbing work and does not cover or attempt to embrace or cover any piping other than sanitary plumbing work"; (e) that "work now being performed by Kordulak Bros. under contract with Local Union 14 is process piping and belongs to Local 274 * * *"; and that plaintiff "will advise in writing * * *" that it "will remove all plumbers from the job doing pipefitters work, which will enable Local 274 to replace them with pipefitters in accordance with the contract of Local 274 and Kordulak Bros., so that pipefitters will only do pipefitting work."

The complaint further charged that, despite the alleged inequity of the foregoing command, and in order to prevent the revocation of its charter, plaintiff "did, on the 10th day of August, 1959, comply with the mandates of said order of suspension * * *, doing so, however, under protest * * *." In writing, under date of August 6, 1959, it advised United that plaintiff's compliance was "induced coercively" and that it reserved its "right to appeal the said order of July 28, 1959, to the duly designated appellate authorities in the said United Association" and further "to seek relief against the consequences of said order in any State or Federal Court of appropriate jurisdiction." The

complaint further alleged that United also, at the instance of defendant Local 274, did on April 27, 1959 "wrongfully and illegally deprive plaintiff of its rightful territorial jurisdiction by confining plaintiff's jurisdiction to the City of Jersey City and excluding therefrom the Cities of Bayonne and Hoboken."

On the basis of the foregoing allegations the complaint demanded that defendants be enjoined and restrained from enforcing the suspension order of July 28, 1959; that said order "be adjudged to be void and without legal force or effect"; that "the territorial jurisdiction of plaintiff be restored * * *"; and that United "be enjoined and ...


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