United States District Court, Eastern District of Illinois
January 29, 1971
DUQUOIN PACKING COMPANY, A CORPORATION, DUQUOIN, ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF,
LOCAL P-156, AMALGAMATED MEAT CUTTERS AND BUTCHER WORKMEN OF NORTH AMERICA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Juergens, Chief Judge.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This suit was originally filed in the Circuit Court of the
Twentieth Judicial Circuit, Perry County, Illinois, and
subsequently removed on petition for removal by defendants,
alleging jurisdiction under the provisions of Section 301(a)
of the Labor Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 185(a)).
The complaint as originally filed contained only one count
and charged defendant Local P-156, Amalgamated Meat Cutters
and Butcher Workmen of America, and named individuals.
Following removal, plaintiff amended its complaint, setting
forth its cause of action in Count I against defendant Local
P-156, Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of
America, and plead alternatively in Count II a cause of action
against the named individuals as individuals and not as agents
of the union.
Defendants move to strike and dismiss the amended complaint,
alleging in support of their motion that Count I of the
amended complaint fails to state any claim upon which relief
can be granted; that the Court has no jurisdiction over the
subject matter of the claim attempted to be stated against the
individual defendants in Count II; and that Count II of the
amended complaint fails to state any claim upon which relief
may be granted in favor of the plaintiff.
The heart of the complaint in both counts is a no-strike
clause contained in a collective bargaining agreement between
plaintiff and defendant union. The complaint alleges that the
collective bargaining agreement contains a no-strike clause
and a grievance procedure by which grievances were to be
settled amicably or by arbitration and that the no-strike
clause was violated.
Defendant union moves to dismiss Count I for the reasons
that the complaint does not set forth adequately allegations
upon which responsibility can be imputed to the local, that
the only allegations contained in Count I are wholly
conclusionary and are directly contradicted by other
allegations of Count I, and that it is clear from the
complaint that the local did not call the strike and that it
was in fact cooperating with plaintiff in attempting to
resolve the alleged problem. Defendant union does not contend
that this Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain this cause of
action, nor could it so contend in the light of its
allegations in its petition for removal. It is clear that the
cause of action against the defendant union is within the
original jurisdiction of this Court under the provisions of
§ 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act (Title 29 U.S.C. § 185(a)).
It is equally clear that this cause was properly
removed to this Court within the purview of the removal
statute, namely, 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), which provides for
removal of actions founded on a claim arising under the
Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States without
regard to citizenship or residence of the parties.
Count I of the amended complaint, and specifically in
paragraph 8, alleges that the union, its servants, agents and
representatives have engaged in a strike and have refused to
work and have engaged in picketing of plaintiff's premises and
have approved and ratified the strike and picketing.
Even assuming defendant union's charge that the complaint
contains only conclusionary allegations, specifically in
paragraph 8 thereof, Count I is nevertheless sufficient to
motion to dismiss. Under the present liberal rules governing
pleadings in the Federal courts, all that is required in a
complaint is that it contain a short, plain statement of the
claim, showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and if
the pleading gives the opposing party fair notice of the
nature of the claim, the basis upon which it is founded and a
general indication of the type of litigation involved, it is
sufficient to comply with the rules.
The defendant's motion to dismiss Count I of the complaint
will be denied.
The motion to dismiss Count II raises the same objections as
are raised against Count I, but raises other matters in
addition to those levied against Count I.
Suffice it to say that Count II does contain a short, plain
statement of the grounds upon which the Court's jurisdiction
depends and also alleges facts upon which the cause of action
is founded. If the court in fact has jurisdiction and if
causes of action may be maintained by an employer against
individual employees on the basis of a violation by them
individually of the provisions of a collective bargaining
agreement between the employer and the union under the
provision of § 301(a), then Count II is not vulnerable to a
motion to dismiss.
Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act
(29 U.S.C. § 185(a)) provides as follows:
"(a) Suits for violation of contracts between
an employer and a labor organization representing
employees in an industry affecting commerce as
defined in this chapter, or between any such
labor 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."
Congress has directed the courts to formulate and apply
Federal law to suits for violation of collective bargaining
contracts. There is no constitutional difficulty and § 301 is
not to be given a narrow reading; § 301 has been applied to
compel arbitration of individual grievances pertaining to rates
of pay, hours of work and wrongful discharge, to obtain
specific enforcement of an arbitrator's award ordering
reinstatement and back pay to individual employees, to recover
wage increases in a contest over the validity of the collective
bargaining contract, and to suits against individual union
members for violation of a no-strike clause contained in a
collective bargaining agreement. Smith v. Evening News Assn.,
371 U.S. 195, 199, 200, 83 S.Ct. 267, 9 L.Ed.2d 246 (1962).
In support of the last proposition, namely, that § 301(a)
has been applied to suits against individual union members for
violation of a no-strike clause contained in a collective
bargaining agreement, the Court in Smith, supra, cites Atkinson
v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U.S. 238, 82 S.Ct. 1318, 8 L.Ed.
2d 462. In Atkinson, supra, the Supreme Court had before it a
question somewhat comparable, but different than that presented
here. In Atkinson, supra, Count II of the complaint charged 24
individual officers and agents of the union with breach of a
collective bargaining contract and tortious interference with
contractual relations. The District Court held that under § 301
union officers or employees cannot be held personally liable
for union actions and that therefore suits of the nature
alleged in Count II are no longer cognizable in state or
federal courts. The Court of Appeals reversed and the Supreme
Court held that no cause of action was stated in that when a
union is liable for damages for violation of the no-strike
clause, its officers and members are not liable for these
damages. In Atkinson the individual members were charged in
Count II with acting as agents and on behalf of the union.
(Emphasis supplied). The Court stated that:
"Whatever individual liability Count II alleges
for the 24 individual defendants, it necessarily
liability of the union which is charged under
Count 1, since under § 301(b) the union is liable
for the acts of its agents, under familiar
principles of the law of agency. * * *. Proof of
the allegations of Count II in its present form
would inevitably prove a violation of the no-strike
clause by the union itself."
The Court in Atkinson further stated that the conduct charged
in Count II was within the scope of a violation of the
collective bargaining agreement, but held that Count II
necessarily alleged union liability by praying damages from
the union agents, and it further stated that where the union
has inflicted the injury, it alone must pay. Count II was
Under the provisions of § 301, agents and members are
exempted from personal liability for judgment against the
union. Thus, if it develops during the trial that the action
complained of in the complaint is that of the union and the
individual members were merely acting as agents for the union,
then the union would be liable and the individuals would not
be, since no cause of action exists agairWt the individual
members for union liability. If on the other hand it develops
that the union is without fault and it further develops that
the acts of the individuals were individual acts and that the
acts were not performed as agents of the union, then individual
liability would result.
Section 301 exempts agents and members from personal
liability for judgments against the union when they are acting
or participating in a plan "emanating from headquarters." This
provision was entered into the bill in order to prevent a
repetition of the Danbury Hatters case (Loewe v. Lawlor,
208 U.S. 274, 28 S.Ct. 301, 52 L.Ed. 488; Lawlor v. Loewe,
235 U.S. 522, 35 S.Ct. 170, 59 L.Ed. 341), where an action was
brought against union members and not against the union
although the members were participating in a union plan.
The case presently before the Court is distinguishable from
the Danbury Hatters case in that here it is alleged not that
the individuals are acting pursuant to a union plan but rather
that their conduct is solely that of individuals.
The Supreme Court recently has held that the no-strike
clause in a union contract means exactly what it says. When
that clause appears in a contract, it means there cannot be a
strike by the unions. In order to give validity to that
decision it is necessary that the unions have some control
over their members, and if the individual union members are
not going to be held individually liable for wildcat strikes,
then the union will have no control over its members.
Especially is this true in those instances where the union
does not participate or condone a strike and does not request
that its members go out on strike. The individual union
members by their membership in the union have given their
officers the power and authority to negotiate and to enter
into contracts with employers, subject to their ratification.
When such ratification is given by the union members, then it
becomes a valid and binding contract not only upon the union
but also upon the individual members of that union. History
has shown that individual union members take advantage of the
provisions of a collective bargaining agreement when it is to
their individual advantage. By the same token they should
individually be bound by the provisions of the collective
bargaining agreement which they have ratified and be liable
for any breach of the provisions of a collective bargaining
agreement which they individually have caused. The individual
members of a union should not be permitted to strike with
impunity in violation of the collective bargaining agreement
when they are not requested or demanded or authorized to so
strike by their union officials.
Count II of the complaint alleges, and in order to establish
liability the proof's at the trial must show, that the
individuals were acting solely and only in their
own behalf and not in behalf of the union or in furtherance of
any union plan. Failure of such proof would be a failure to
establish liability under Count II.
Taken with this restrictive view in mind, Count II of the
complaint is within the jurisdiction of this Court and does
state a cause of action. Accordingly, the motion to dismiss
will be and the same is hereby denied.
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