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Eads Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers of America

APRIL 14, 1975.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County; the Hon. JOHN D. DAILY, Judge, presiding.


The defendants, United Mine Workers of America, District 12, hereinafter referred to as United, appeal from an order of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County modifying and making permanent a temporary injunction restraining violent conduct by members of United and limiting the number of pickets at the entrances of the plaintiff's Belle Rive Mine located near Mount Vernon, Illinois. We affirmed the issuance of the temporary injunction in Eads Coal Co. v. UMW, District 12, 131 Ill. App.2d 1082, 269 N.E.2d 359.

Two principal issues are present in this appeal. First, was the labor dispute at the mine in whole or part preempted by Federal law at the time the temporary injunction was made permanent? Second, did the trial court err in making the temporary injunction permanent?

The issuance of the permanent injunction concerned events which occurred at plaintiff's mine in 1970 and 1971. Arch Mineral Corporation owned and operated the Belle Rive Mine. On February 20, 1970, the corporation entered into a contract with plaintiff Progressive Mine Workers of America, hereinafter referred to as Progressive, for operation of the mine. The corporation then joined the Coal Producers' Association of Illinois which had a master contract with Progressive and became bound by the terms of the contract. Later, Arch formed Eads as a wholly owned subsidiary and turned the mine over to the new corporation, which then became a member of the Coal Producers Association.

Eads recognized Progressive as the exclusive bargaining agent for the mine employees. United wanted to organize the employees at the Belle Rive Mine and attempted to persuade the employees to join United. During the week of October 12, 1970, operations at the mine were interrupted by mass picketing, acts of violence, threats to employees and other acts of intimidation and harassment at the mine and other places. A temporary injunction was granted ex parte on October 16 and was extended an additional 10 days on October 26. A motion to dissolve the injunction was denied on the same date. Following a hearing in which all the parties to the present appeal were represented and after extensive testimony was taken, a temporary injunction was granted on November 4, 1970. We affirmed. Eads Coal Co. v. UMW, District 12.

There were no further incidents until after the contract between United and Illinois Coal Operators Association expired on September 30, 1971. Thereafter, all coal miners belonging to United in Southern Illinois went out on strike. Those mines under contract with Progressive continued to operate. Picketing by members of United on October 22 and 23 caused Eads to close the Belle Rive Mine for 16 days. The plaintiffs filed a petition to show cause in which they alleged that in addition to the mass picketing, members of United threatened and intimidated employees of Eads, in violation of the temporary injunction. United subsequently signed a new contract in November, strike activities ceased, and plaintiffs did not pursue their petition. There were no allegations of further unlawful activities between October 1971 and the present time.

On February 14, 1973, the defendants filed a motion to dissolve the temporary injunction. The plaintiffs filed an answer and objections to the defendant's motion and moved that defendants' motion be denied and that the temporary injunction be made permanent. The plaintiffs filed a motion to allow the introduction of testimony taken pursuant to the issuance of the 1970 order. After a hearing, the motion was granted. The court also ordered that any additional evidence relating to the 1970 order and subsequent events would also be heard at a hearing on the parties' motions. The hearing was held on July 23 and 24.

The testimony taken at the hearing relating to events in 1971 revealed that peaceful picketing by members of the defendant union caused the mine to shut down. There was no violence, intimidation or threats.

The first witness called by the plaintiff was Gene Mitchell, an international executive board member of the United Mine Workers of America. Counsel for plaintiff attempted to qualify him as a hostile witness under section 60 of the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 110, par. 60,) because in 1971 he was an official of a subdistrict of District # 12 of United. Counsel for defendant objected that at the time of the incidents in 1971, he was not an agent of District 12. The trial court overruled the objection. Testimony was elicited concerning United's strike activities and the witness's acquaintances, but no testimony was elicited which linked United or Mitchell to activities at the Belle Rive Mine in October, 1971.

The next witness called was Jerry Sweat who had been president of Local 1513 in 1971. Counsel for plaintiff questioned him concerning a meeting of members of United held in Carrier Mills, Illinois, on October 21, 1971, to coordinate strike activities. Carrier Mills is 60 miles from Mount Vernon. At the time United was on strike throughout Illinois. The witness testified that Eads Coal Company was not mentioned at the meeting. The witness was then declared a hostile witness by the trial court after the following questions and answers:

"Q. And at that time was the Belle Rive Mine, Eads Mine, mentioned at that meeting?

A. Never.

Q. As being still working?

A. Never, never.

Q. I will ask you if you didn't say at that meeting this, or this in substance, that the Belle Rive Mine was still working and that you would send men there to stop the mine?

A. Mr. Horsley, you have a vivid ...

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