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Turner v. Steffke Freight Co.

MAY 14, 1964.

GENE TURNER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

STEFFKE FREIGHT COMPANY, A CORPORATION, SPECTOR FREIGHT SYSTEMS, INC., A CORPORATION, AND CENTRAL STATES DRIVERS COUNCIL, A VOLUNTARY UNINCORPORATED ASSOCIATION AFFILIATED WITH THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. ALBERT S. O'SULLIVAN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

CARROLL, J.

This is an action for specific performance of a collective bargaining agreement and to recover damages occasioned by the alleged breach of said agreement by the defendants, Steffke Freight Company, and Spector Freight Systems.

Plaintiff, Gene Turner, a truck driver and member of Local 325, Central States Drivers Council Labor Union is employed by Steffke Freight. In February, 1955, his employer and the Union entered into a collective bargaining agreement. Subsequently, Steffke filed a petition in bankruptcy and thereafter was merged with and acquired by defendant, Spector. Such transfer of Steffke was made subject to the terms and conditions of its collective bargaining agreement with the Union.

It is alleged in the first of the two counts of the complaint that Steffke and Spector have breached said agreement in that they have refused to recognize the seniority rights to which plaintiff is entitled under the terms thereof. In the second count it is alleged that plaintiff has no adequate remedy at law and prays defendants be ordered to specifically perform the said agreement.

The defendants answered the complaint denying the alleged breach of the agreement and set up a number of separate defenses to plaintiff's action. Central States Drivers Council was permitted to intervene as a party defendant and adopted the pleadings filed by Steffke and Spector. After each had filed a motion for summary judgment the parties by stipulation agreed upon the facts and to the submission to the trial court of a question of law, which it was agreed could be dispositive of the case.

The stipulation of the parties is as follows:

"It is agreed by the respective parties, through their counsel, as follows:

"1. The Court has pending before it several motions including motions to strike and motions for summary judgment. These motions raise several different points of law. One issue of law raised by the motions could be dispositive of the litigation and the parties desire to raise this question based upon the following stipulated facts:

"(a) Spector Freight Systems, Inc. and Steffke Freight Company are parties to a collective bargaining agreement with the Central States Drivers Council and its affiliated local unions. The plaintiff is a member of Local Union 325 affiliated with the Central States Drivers Council and is employed under the terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement.

"(b) In 1960 the plaintiff had his seniority for work purposes altered by defendants. Plaintiff now alleges to this Court that said alteration in his seniority was a breach of said bargaining contract.

"(c) A grievance on the aforesaid alteration of seniority (JRC) was filed by the plaintiff and was processed in accordance with the grievance procedure of the contract to a decision by the Joint State Committee. Based upon a precedent established by the Joint Area Committee, the Joint State Committee decided that there was no violation of the collective bargaining contract. Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the decisions of this Joint State Committee are `final and binding' on the parties.

"(d) The issue presented to the Court on this threshold question of law is whether this Court may review the aforesaid controversy relating to the alteration of plaintiff's seniority without regard to the aforesaid decision of the Joint State Committee established by the contract or whether said decision is final and binding on the merits of said controversy.

"(e) Local Union 325 was and is a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of Sections 2(3), (5) and (7) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 152(3), (5), and (7); and defendants Steffke and Spector referred to in said paragraph 1 are employers engaged in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of Sections 2(2) and (7) of said Act."

Upon a hearing the trial court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment and entered judgment in favor of defendants as to count 1, and dismissed count 2 for want of equity. Plaintiff's several motions, including that ...


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