as is implied was a duty of the Joint Board, not of Local 843.
On the assumption that jurisdiction exists, prudence dictates that the merits be addressed.
Although not the certified exclusive representative for the unit, Local 843 is a union whose members were part of the unit, along with members of Local 153. Its president, Frank Sullivan, conducted the negotiations for the Joint Board and signed the contract on its behalf. Local 843 cannot plead ignorance of the negotiations or of the terms of the agreement.
The record of testimony is clear that the subject of a letter commitment not to recognize outside picket lines came up at the first negotiation meeting on October 8, 1975 and was an essential quid-pro-quo for early settlement even before the existing contract expired. The contract and the letter were put to a ratification vote to the members of Local 843 and Local 153 to be voted up or down together.
The entire context is eloquent in the awareness of the employees in the unit of the values of not only achieving increases before the old contract went out and of assurance of parity if others did better, but also of the value to both the employer and them of uninterrupted employment.
Everyone familiar with the subject of labor relations, and most of all the rank and file, are well aware of the powerful weapon, under some circumstances, of the strike, the walkout, the slowdown or the sitdown and other variations on the theme. They are also well aware of the risks. Just as labor sometimes says "no contract, no work", the employer says "no work, no pay." And so, there are some work interruptions due to labor disputes that last so long that even with the pay increase finally achieved, it takes years for the workers to make up, through the increase, what they lost in wages while out of work. Sometimes the employer can neither meet the demands nor absorb a strike and the result is that the enterprise shuts down entirely.
Thus, in the circumstances of this case, the certified representative negotiated a package, including the letter commitment, and submitted it to the employees in the unit. The employees making up the unit twice rejected the package, then accepted it on January 25, 1976. They were led to expect that, by signing up, they could avoid the risks of lost work, if Local 102 signed up early, and when it did not they knew that chance was lost but certainly expected to be able to continue work after Local 102 settled, despite problems at out of state plants. They had voted, back in 1975, not to give negotiating authority for the upcoming contract to the National Brewery Conference, but to negotiate themselves. The vote was evidently unanimous.
Thus, when Local 843 officers undertook to inform plaintiffs that the Local 633 line should be honored, to police the plant to identify which employees went through the picket line, and then accepted and processed charges leading to fines and probation, they frustrated the plaintiffs' natural expectations in light of that history.
The plaintiffs wanted to carry out the contract that the Joint Board had negotiated on their behalf and which they had approved. They wanted to work and earn their pay, but the conduct of the Local 843 officers prevented that.
The telegram of February 2, 1976, sent by the Teamsters' General President to Local 843, speaks of the December 3, 1975 letter as a "provision which purports to waive the trade union right of your individual members to respect a picket line of other Teamster locals who may strike during the current negotiations with Anheuser-Busch." Of course, that right of individual members is protected by 29 USC § 157 equally with the right to agree not to exercise it. Since the right is guaranteed by statute, neither Local 843 nor the General President of the Teamsters had authority to take the right away.
Consequently, if there were jurisdiction, which the court concludes there is not, it would enter judgment on liability in favor of plaintiffs and against defendants. The basis for that liability under the circumstances of this case would be, not a breach of the duty of fair representation but a tortious interference with an opportunity to work and earn each day's pay under the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the Joint Board and endorsed by the employees for whom it was representative. It is fundamental to sound labor relations that the promises made by management and labor be honored. The employees here made a promise but Local 843 prevented them from honoring it, and should be held liable, if there were jurisdiction, for the ensuing loss of earnings.