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Cream-O-Land Dairy v. Milk Drivers and Dairy Employees Local 680

Decided: October 22, 1970.

CREAM-O-LAND DAIRY, A CORPORATION OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MILK DRIVERS AND DAIRY EMPLOYEES LOCAL 680, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Conford, Kolovsky and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Carton, J.A.D.

Carton

[111 NJSuper Page 579] Defendant Milk Drivers and Dairy Employees Local 680 appeals from a judgment granting plaintiff Cream-O-Land Dairy an injunction restraining the union from picketing plaintiff's customers. Defendant claims that the state court lacks jurisdiction over the matter since it involves a controversy subject to section 7 or 8 of the National

Labor Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. ยงยง 157, 158) and is therefore preempted to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. We agree.

Dairy had an exclusive contract since 1953 with the Dairy Workers Association, Inc., a labor union, which, with the exception of certain specified classes, represented its employees. The latest contract, dated May 1, 1969, ran for a term of two years and according to Dairy contained wage and fringe benefits equal to or exceeding those in contracts of other dairies or negotiated by Local 680.

On July 8, 1970 representatives of Local 680 were observed picketing a Hills Supermarket, a company with which Dairy did a gross annual business of $600,000. The pickets were carrying signs and passing out handbills to people walking in the store. The picket signs read:

CREAM-O-LAND DAIRY pays wages and fringe benefits below the scale required by union contracts

DON'T BUY CREAM-O-LAND DAIRY PRODUCTS

MILK DRIVERS AND DAIRY EMPLOYEES LOCAL 680

On July 15 the Chancery Division, on the basis of affidavits, granted a temporary restraining order returnable July 20, 1970. The affidavit of Backhaus, one of Dairy's employees, contained an assertion that one of the pickets, in response to his inquiry as to why he was picketing, stated that Cream-O-Land's drivers reportedly worked six days a week, 14 to 16 hours a day, and were paid $180 per week with no fringe benefits. Backhaus averred that these allegations were false. He also asserted that the picket told him that Local 680 had been trying to organize Cream-O-Land for five years.

On the July 20 return date the court heard testimony similar to that contained in the supporting affidavits. Testimony was offered to the effect that while the picketing was going on, sales of Cream-O-Land products in the store substantially declined but that these sales returned to normal once the picketing was restrained.

Local 680 filed no answering affidavits and offered no witnesses but moved to dismiss on grounds of federal preemption among others. The court made the finding that the picketing with the legend on the placard was "essentially to coerce Plaintiff's employees, or to act as a coercion upon the Plaintiff and its employees to ultimately enter into and negotiate a contract with the Defendant union." The court also found that although the picketing was peaceful, it was for an improper or illegal purpose and if permitted to continue would constitute "an irreparable harm to the plaintiff, to Hills Supermarket, as well as to other customers."

An order was entered enjoining Local 680 from picketing "until the further order of this court." The court relied upon Ind. Dairy Workers, &c. v. Milk Drivers, &c., Local No. 680 , 30 N.J. 173 (1959). Despite the apparently interlocutory language of the order, the court later certified ...


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