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Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. v. United Steelworkers of America

decided: August 6, 1980.

PITTSBURGH-DES MOINES STEEL COMPANY
v.
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO; UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION NO. 2789; WILLIAM M. WELSH, GALE O'MALLEY: JOSEPH E. GRZECZKA UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA AFL-CIO, WILLIAM M. WELSH, GALE O'MALLEY, AND JOSEPH R. GRZECZKA, APPELLANTS; PITTSBURGH-DES MOINES STEEL COMPANY V. UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO; UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION NO. 2789; WILLIAM M. WELSH, GALE O'MALLEY: JOSEPH E. GRZECZKA UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL UNION NO. 2789, APPELLANT



ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Before Seitz, Chief Judge, and Gibbons and Rosenn, Circuit Judges.

Author: Gibbons

Opinion OF THE COURT

United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO (the International), United Steelworkers of America, Local Union No. 2789 (the Local), and William M. Welsh, Gale O'Malley and Joseph R. Grzeczka, union officers, all appeal from an order entered in a suit under section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. ยง 185, granting a preliminary injunction against a strike in violation of a no strike clause in a collective bargaining agreement with the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. (the Employer). The Local also appeals from an order holding it in contempt and imposing on it a $2500 fine. We hold that no injunction should have been directed against the International, that the injunction directed against the Local was broader than the law permits, and that the order holding the Local in contempt was improper.

I. Facts and Proceedings in the District Court

The Employer and the International and Local have long been parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The most recent contract was negotiated in November 1978 and extends through April 1982. The contract contains a broad grievance and arbitration clause which includes an express agreement that there will be no work interruptions while grievances proceed through the multi-stage contractual dispute resolution process.*fn1 In the ten years preceding the events in August 1979 which led to this lawsuit, there were no unauthorized work stoppages at the Employer's plant.

The Employer contends that the contract gives it sole control over work assignments as a management prerogative. On August 14, 1979 a dispute arose over the assignment of fiberglass insulation work to senior first class fitters. That work had previously been assigned to general helpers, the least skilled workers in the plant. The work was generally detested because handling fiberglass insulation is considered distasteful, if not hazardous. The fitters wanted to walk out immediately, but were dissuaded from doing so by the officers of the Local. Representatives of the Employer and the Local met that afternoon in an effort to resolve the dispute. Although the attempt at resolution was unsuccessful, the next day the fiberglass insulation work was temporarily reassigned to more junior employees. On August 16, however, the Company reasserted its claim that it had the right to assign the work to first class fitters. When the assignments were made several fitters went home claiming to be ill. When a second group of fitters was ordered to do the work, one of them went home and another tried unsuccessfully to grieve the assignment. Once again, the members of the Local were prepared to walk off the job, but were dissuaded from doing so by the Local's officers, who agreed to try again to resolve the matter. Representatives of the Local and the Employer met that afternoon. The Employer insisted that work assignment was, under the contract, a management prerogative, and announced that the fitters who had gone home rather than perform fiberglass insulation work would be discharged. At this point the entire membership of the Local, thoroughly aroused over the dispute, decided to strike. Gale O'Malley, President of the Local, called a special membership meeting for Friday, August 17th at 7:00 a.m., the time at which the plant's first shift normally reported for work. At this meeting, the members decided to continue the work stoppage at least until August 20th, when they agreed to meet again. A motion to that effect was passed unanimously by the Local membership present at the meeting.

Meanwhile, on the evening of August 16, the Employer's plant manager, having heard rumors that there might be a strike in violation of the contract, telephoned William M. Welsh, the International's representative, at his home and advised him of the rumors. When the strike materialized on the morning of August 17, the plant manager again telephoned Welsh and informed him of it. That afternoon Welsh met with O'Malley, the President of the Local, in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve the dispute. He also met that day with representatives of the Employer and advised them that the Local membership had made it clear that they would not arbitrate the work assignment and discharge issues. Welsh did not endorse their position, however, and at a meeting later that day he urged the Local's officers to get their men back to work. They informed him that the mood of the members made that impossible. Welsh appeared at the Local's membership meeting on August 20 and repeatedly urged the members to go back to work, informing them that their actions were illegal. He was hooted down and the work stoppage continued.

On the morning of August 20, the Employer filed its section 301 complaint against the International, the Local, International Representative Welsh, Local President O'Malley, and Local Vice President Grzeczka. The Employer obtained, ex parte, a temporary restraining order restraining the defendants and all persons acting in concert with them, including all members of the Local, from engaging in any strike, slowdown, or refusal to work. A hearing on the Employer's request for a preliminary injunction was scheduled for August 23, 1979. The temporary restraining order was served on the defendants and certain other Local members on the afternoon of August 20.

On the morning of August 21, at another meeting of the Local membership the temporary restraining order was read to the members, as was a telegram from the President of the International which advised the members that the strike was illegal and directed them to return to work. The members, however, still refused to return to work. When the temporary restraining order did not produce an end to the strike, the Employer moved for an order adjudicating the defendants in contempt. An order to show cause was issued directing the defendants and three other Local members to show cause on the afternoon of August 22, why they should not be held in contempt for failing to obey the temporary restraining order. The order to show cause also rescheduled the hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction from August 23 to the afternoon of August 22.

Welsh continued to urge the officers of the Local to return to work, and at his urging they punched in for work on the morning of August 22, but punched out again shortly thereafter in order to prepare for the district court hearing scheduled for that afternoon.

After a hearing during which testimony was taken establishing the foregoing facts, the district court entered the preliminary injunction and the contempt order appealed from herein. The preliminary injunction ordered:

1. That defendants, and each of them, and the officers, representatives, agents and members of Defendant Unions and all persons acting under, by, through, or in concert with them, or any of them, are enjoined from engaging in any strike, slowdown or any other interference with or impeding of work or operations at Plaintiff Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company's Neville Island facilities.

2. That Plaintiff and Defendant Unions are directed and required to utilize the grievance-arbitration procedure set forth in their collective bargaining agreement for the resolution of any and all disputes over the job assignments of first-class fitters and the discharges of first-class fitters.

5. That Defendant Unions and their officers are ordered reasonably to employ all means at their disposal to insure that this injunction is obeyed, including but not limited to those provided for in their constitution and by-laws including instituting disciplinary proceedings against any ...


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