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Dugan Oil Co. v. Coalition of Area Labor

OPINION FILED JULY 14, 1981.

DUGAN OIL COMPANY, INC., PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

COALITION OF AREA LABOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT. — PATTERSON BROTHERS OIL AND GAS, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

H. BRENT DELAND ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS. — GEORGE ANDERSON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

H. BRENT DELAND ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS. — PATTERSON BROTHERS OIL AND GAS, INC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

H. BRENT DELAND ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Courts> of Morgan, Logan, and Sangamon Counties; the Hon. GORDON D. SEATOR, JOHN T. McCULLOUGH, and SIMON L. FRIEDMAN, Judges, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE SCOTT DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The above captioned cases were consolidated for oral argument and opinion. The appellant, Coalition of Area Labor, an unincorporated association, and other defendants-appellants, are appealing from the issuance of preliminary injunctions in the cases in question. The factual situations which resulted in these appeals are substantially the same and had their inception on July 28, 1980. On this date the city of Springfield enacted an ordinance authorizing the execution of a contract between Shell Oil Company and the city for the purchase of coal. Pursuant to such authority, the city entered into a contract to purchase 32.05 million tons of coal which is to be mined from a mine owned by Shell and which is to be constructed at Elkhart in Logan County.

Shell, through a subsidiary, engaged the services of Dincon Construction Company, a South Carolina concern, to build the mine. Dincon employed nonunion labor from the south rather than union labor from the Springfield area. A community coalition including labor groups, college professors, government employees, and other local citizens from the Springfield area coalesced into a loosely knit and unstructured organization known as "The Coalition of Area Labor" (C.O.A.L.). The organization's purpose is to influence and convince local governmental officials and Shell that workers from outside the Springfield area labor market should not be used to construct the coal mine in Elkhart. That such was the purpose and intent of C.O.A.L. is undisputed. Defendant, H. Brent DeLand, who as much or possibly more than anyone was in a position of leadership with C.O.A.L. and served as its spokesman, met with the press and approximately 100 pickets on January 9, 1981, at which time he stated:

"We have attempted, without avail, to meet with Shell Oil and its subsidiary companies to resolve our concerns about the use of non-union, non-local labor at the company's new Logan County mine. * * * It is sad that we must invoke this boycott which will undoubtedly harm the local businessmen operating Shell stations."

Like sentiments were expressed in correspondence to the Springfield city council which was signed by DeLand and Harold Sebring, who in addition to being involved in C.O.A.L., is also a business agent for a local labor union in Springfield and president of the Springfield Building and Construction Trades Council.

We will first direct our attention to the above captioned case No. 17043. The plaintiffs in this case are 10 businessmen operating service stations in Springfield. They are not agents or employees of Shell Oil Company; however, 90% of all products sold bear the Shell Oil brand name. The plaintiffs purchase gasoline from Shell at a fixed price, then set and determine the prices at which it is to be sold to the public. The plaintiffs employ a number of individuals, they determine who shall be hired, the work schedules, and the pay that each employee shall receive.

In support of this complaint for a temporary restraining order, affidavits were filed by the plaintiffs in which, in substance, it was averred that commencing on January 9, 1981, and continuing on each Friday, Saturday and Sunday thereafter, the service stations operated by the plaintiffs were picketed by individuals wearing vests or carrying signs which identified themselves as members of C.O.A.L. and requesting a boycott of Shell Oil Company; that the initial picketing began with 100 picketers surrounding the station of plaintiff Dietrich; that thereafter at the various stations involved the picketers stood in driveways, blocked entryways, took down license plate numbers, photographed customers, and that abusive and obscene language was directed towards customers.

Mr. DeLand and Gregory Powell testified for C.O.A.L. It was Powell's testimony that he was treasurer of the organization's records, that there was no president; it was an unincorporated organization having no by-laws or written documents. He specifically testified that "our purpose was solely to see that union labor was employed in the Elkhart mine."

DeLand's testimony is significant in that it describes the structure or lack of structure of C.O.A.L. as well as the lack of guidance or control that anyone has over the organization's activities. A portion of DeLand's testimony is as follows:

"THE COURT: You are one of the Chairpersons in charge of the picketing?

THE WITNESS: A. Well yes, in charge of C.O.A.L., yes, sir.

THE COURT: If you were to suggest to the picketers that they cease their operations, would they do it?

THE WITNESS: A. They would beat me.

THE COURT: Then you don't control the organization?

THE WITNESS: A. That's ...


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