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United Protective Workers of America v. Ford Motor Co.

March 14, 1952


Author: Swaim

Before DUFFY, FINNEGAN and SWAIM, Circuit Judges.

SWAIM, Circuit Judge.

This action was brought in the District Court by the United Protective Workers of America, Local No. 2, hereinafter referred to as the "union," and Joseph W. Orloski against the Ford Motor Company, hereinafter referred to as "Ford." The complaint alleged that the action was brought under the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2201 and 2202, and suit by the union was authorized by § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a). The complaint also alleged diversity of citizenship between Orloski and Ford and the jurisdictional amount. The complaint alleged that the union was a labor organization duly certified by the National Labor Relations Board to represent Ford's plant protection employees of which group Orloski was a member. At the time here in question it is alleged that the plaintiffs and the defendant were operating under a collective bargaining agreement which the union had negotiated with Ford, which agreement became a part of Orloski's contract of employment with Ford.

In 1947 Ford notified Orloski that he was eligible to subscribe for an annuity under a group annuity contract between Ford and an insurance company if he would authorize deductions from his pay checks. Orloski did subscribe for the annuity and received an annuity certificate issued by the Equitable Life Assurance Society showing that after April 1, 1949, he would receive $20 a month. Ford refused to reveal to Orloski or to the union the contents of the master contract between Ford and the insurance company, even though Orloski's annuity certificate is subject to the terms of this contract. Orloski, who had been an employee of Ford for approximately thirty-five years, was notified in February 1949 of the company's intention to dismiss him on April 25, 1949, the date he became sixty-five years of age. Orloski protested such "proposed arbitrary dismissal" to Ford and advised the union of the notice Ford had given him. After receiving such notice, Orloski, through the union, (1) protested his discharge, (2) offered to utilize the grievance procedure of the contract for a determination of his rights thereunder, and (3) offered to negotiate the terms of a bilateral retirement ageement.

The complaint further set out that on the date of his dismissal Orloski was "ready, willing and able and did offer to perform and continue his services, duties and obligations under said contract, but, * * * Ford * * * disregarding its obligations under said collective bargaining agreement," dismissed him and terminated his employment despite his protest and the protest of his bargaining agent, the union; that by reason of Ford's refusal to restore to him "his position, classification, seniority, compensation and other rights and privileges" which belonged to him under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Orloski suffered "serious and irreparable injury"; and that the plaintiffs have no adequate remedy at law. The plaintiffs prayed for a declaratory judgment determining and declaring the rights of the parties under the agreement, and that Ford be restrained and prohibited from doing anything in derogation of plaintiffs' rights based on the collective bargaining agreement or on Orloski's annuity certificate. Orloski, individually, also prayed for a mandatory injunction requiring Ford to reinstate him and to pay him full compensation for his lost wages, with interest from the date of his discharge, costs and attorney's fees. A copy of the collective bargaining agreement and a copy of the annuity certificate were attached to and made a part of the complaint.

The defendant, on January 31, 1950, filed its motion to dismiss the complaint, to dismiss as to the union, to strike certain portions of the complaint, to require the plaintiffs to state separately their causes of action, and for a more definite statement of the facts.

The plaintiffs then filed a motion for summary judgment and mandatory injunction, an affidavit alleging that the collective bargaining agreement between the parties had been extended and a paper, in reply to the defendant's motion for a more definite statement of the facts, which they entitled a "Bill of Particulars" in which they stated that Paragraphs (1), (14), (16), (22) and (23) of the collective bargaining agreement were particularly violated by the discharge of Orloski. In the same paper the plaintiffs alleged that, beginning on February 25, 1949, they had, on numerous dates and occasions, by letters, telegrams and telephone communications and in conferences with the various agents, officers and legal representatives of Ford, protested the termination of Orloski's employment charging that it was a violation of the collective bargaining agreement and urging that the grievance procedure provided for in said agreement be resorted to in an attempt to settle the controversy.

On the same day the District Court took the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and mandatory injunction under advisement and ordered that the plaintiffs file supporting briefs with ten days and that all other briefs be filed pursuant to Rule 7 of the District Court. (Rule 7 of the District Court provides: "Failure to file any briefs provided for by this rule shall not be deemed to be a waiver of the motion or matter on the part of the supporting party, or withdrawal of opposition by the opposing party, but the court may, upon its own motion or on the motion of a party, take such action in the premises, including a striking of the motion or a granting of the motion without further briefs or hearing, or the entry of a rule to file supporting or opposing briefs as it may in its discretion determine.")

More than a year later, on March 1, 1951, counsel for the plaintiffs filed a verified motion for entry of a summary judgment and mandatory injunction, for judgment on the pleadings and for entry of judgment by default. In this motion it was alleged that the pleadings, affidavits and admissions in the case showed no material issues of fact, but raised only issues of law; that Ford had disregarded the order of the court and had failed to answer, plead or otherwise respond to the issues raised by the plaintiffs' pleadings; that that Ford had "failed and refused to either object, plead or respond to the order of" the District Court of February 10, 1950. This motion prayed "In the alternative (if the motion for a judgment on the pleadings or for a judgment by default are not allowed), plaintiffs move for an order to strike said defendant's motion "To Dismiss Complaint, * * *' and for an order requiring defendant * * * to file an answer to plaintiffs' Complaint." The District Court took this motion under advisement, and on April 10, 1951, called in counsel for the parties, announced that it had considered the pleadings and briefs filed, including a brief which had finally been filed by Ford, and asked counsel if they had anything further to add. At that time counsel for Ford said: "I have nothing to add on the merits."

The court then announced its decision and the reasons therefor. The court held that it had jurisdiction of the action under § 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a); that Orloski, an individual employee was not a proper plaintiff in an action under § 301(a); that a complaint for declaratory relief might be joined with a complaint for damages under this section; that in this type of action the court did not have jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief; and that the complaint did not state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted. The court, therefore, denied the plaintiffs' motion for a summary judgment and ordered the cause dismissed. The court also denied plaintiffs' motion for a new trial. It is from this judgment dismissing their action and from the denial of their motion for a new trial that plaintiffs are prosecuting this appeal.

We agree with the District Court that jurisdiction to entertain a suit for a breach of a labor contract, such as we are here considering, is clearly conferred by § 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a), which provides as follows: "(a) Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a lavor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such lavor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties."

We also agree that if the case only involved an action under § 301(a), Orloski, under the express terms of this statute could not be considered a proper party plaintiff. This seems clear from the language of the statute.

The District Court held, citing American Federation of Labor v. Western Union Telegraph Company, 6 Cir., 179 F.2d 535, that a complaint for declaratory relief may be joined with a complaint for damages under § 301(a). We see no valid reason why the claim of an individual employee may not also be joined in the same action where, as here, diversity and the jurisdictional amount are alleged. Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A., permits all persons to join in one action as plaintiffs if they assert any right to relief jointly, severally, or in the alternative in respect of or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences and if any question of law or fact common to all of them will arise in the action.Here we find both questions of fact and of law common to the plaintiff union and to the plaintiff Orloski.Both the union and Orloski are suing on the same breach of the same contract. The right of a member of a union who has been injured by a breach by his employer of the collective bargaining contract to sue to recover damages is recognized in Illinois. Novosk v. Reznick, 323 Ill.App. 544, 56 N.E.2d 318; Dierschow v. West Suburban Dairies, 276 Ill.App. 355; Annotation, 18 A.L.R.2d 352. See also Marranzano v. Riggs National Bank of Washington, D.C., 87 U.S.App.D.C. 195, 184 F.2d 349. In its brief in this Court Ford does not dispute the fact that the District Court also had jurisdiction of Orloski's action.

We agree that the District Court, on the allegations of this complaint, was without power to grant injunctive relief. The District Court held that it was without jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief because of the provisions of the Norris-La Guardia Act, 29 U.S.C.A. §§ 101-115. The authorities are not in agreement on whether the Norris-La Guardia Act deprives the District Courts of the power to grant injunctive relief in a case such as this. The authorities do agree, however, that injunctive relief may never be granted where the plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law. To be entitled to injunctive relief the plaintiff must plead and has the burden of proving facts which show, that he has no adequate remedy at law. While the complaint states that the plaintiffs here "have no other adequate remedy at law," no facts to sustain this conclusion are pleaded. It would seem ...

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