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Morgan Millwork Co. v. Highway Truck Drivers and Helpers

Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle County

January 12, 1955

The MORGAN MILLWORK COMPANY, a Maryland corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
HIGHWAY TRUCK DRIVERS AND HELPERS, A. F. OF L. LOCAL NO. 107, an unincorporated association, Defendant.

Action by employer which sought a temporary restraining order to prevent peaceful picketing of its place of business. The Court of Chancery in and for Newcastle County, Seitz, C., held that where termination by employer, who was engaged in interstate commerce, of that aspect of his business in which members of union were employed and termination of union members' services were intimately bound up with failure of employer and union to enter into a new bargaining contract, restraining order would not be granted restraining peaceful picketing of employer's business.

Restraining order denied.

Where termination by employer, who was engaged in interstate commerce, of that aspect of his business in which members of union were employed and termination of union members' services was intimately bound up with failure of employer and union to enter into a new bargaining contract, restraining order would not be granted restraining peaceful picketing of employer's business.

Joseph H. Flanzer, Robert C. Barab, Wilmington, for plaintiff.

David B. Coxe, Jr., Robert B. Walls, Jr., Wilmington, for defendant.

SEITZ, Chancellor.

Plaintiff seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent admittedly peaceful picketing of its place of business.

Plaintiff's complaint shows that it bad an agreement with defendant union which expired December 31, 1954. The agreement covered three drivers who were members of the union. They drove [35 Del.Ch. 66] a fleet of three trucks which were used by plaintiff to deliver millwork to its customers.

Plaintiff claims that last Friday (January 7, 1955) it terminated the aspect of the business with which defendant's members were connected and also terminated their services. On the same date it sold its trucks and entered into a contract with the purchaser to handle future deliveries. At that time the drivers were working without contract, the contract having expired, as indicated, on December 31, 1954.

On Monday, January 10, 1955, some of defendant's members started to picket plaintiff's place of business. They carried signs bearing the legend ‘ on strike’ or ‘ strike’ .

Plaintiff contends that the picketing is unlawful and should be enjoined for the following reasons:

1. There is no employer-employee relationship between plaintiff and any member of defendant,

2. Plaintiff does not now employ truck drivers nor does it intend to in the future,

3. There is no lawful strike because there is no labor dispute,

4. The strike is illegal because defendant failed and refused to negotiate with plaintiff for renewal of the contract between plaintiff and defendant,

5. The signs carried by the pickets stating ‘ strike’ are misleading because there is no labor dispute between plaintiff and its employees.

Page 445

Defendant says that this Court does not have jurisdiction because plaintiff is admittedly engaged in interstate commerce and there is no force or violence involved. But, in any event, says defendant, this is a labor dispute and not a case of a bona fide termination of business.

Special considerations aside, I have no doubt that the ordinary employer may freely terminate any aspect of his business. I further agree that a strike in such a situation would be unlawful. That was the situation in [35 Del.Ch. 67]Freydberg, Inc., v. Garment Workers, Sup.,128 N.Y.S.2d 470. Although the New York Court decided that the ...


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