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Peggs Run Coal Co. v. District 5

December 26, 1973

PEGGS RUN COAL COMPANY, INC.,
v.
DISTRICT 5, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA, APPELLANT



(D.C. Civil No. 71-265) APPEAL FROM THE ORDER OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Author: Ditter

Before: HASTIE and ALDISERT, Circuit Judges, and DITTER, District Judge.

Opinion OF THE COURT

DITTER, Jr., District Judge

This action was brought under provisions of the Labor-Management Relations Act by an employer for damages growing out of an alleged illegal work stoppage. It comes before the Court on an appeal from the denial of post trial motions.

Plaintiff, Peggs Run Coal Company, Inc., is engaged in mining and processing coal in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Employees of plaintiff are members of the United Mine Workers of America and its Local Union No. 1486. District 5, the defendant, encompasses Beaver County, and is an administrative division of the UMW. The collective bargaining agreement in effect at the time of the alleged work stoppage was the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of 1968, negotiated by the parent union and the nation's coal operators. One of the provisions of this contract required the operator to provide a bathhouse without charge to the employees, or if it was not provided, to make other satisfactory arrangements for them.

Plaintiff's miners, members of defendant, staged a work stoppage from December 1, 1970, to December 9, 1970, because the plaintiff did not make a bathhouse available to them. Suit was brought under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. ยง 185. The jury found the work stoppage was in violation of the collective bargaining agreement and awarded plaintiff $11,873.79 in damages.

I. DOES A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WHICH CONTAINS A MANDATORY ARBITRATION CLAUSE PROHIBIT STRIKES?

District 5 first objects to this portion of the charge:

Now, as a matter of law, I instruct you that a strike to settle a dispute which a contract or collective bargaining agreement... provides shall be settled [finally] and bindingly by the grievance procedure which ends in compulsory arbitration, violates the contract. In other words, when there is a contract that provides for binding arbitration, a strike or work stoppage to try to enforce such a contract is a violation of the contract, and I so charge you as a matter of law.

Further, as a matter of law, I instruct you that the dispute involved in this case concerning the erection of a bathhouse was such a dispute. In other words, if you find that there was a strike, a work interruption from December 1 through December 9, 1970, over the erection of a bathhouse any such strike or work stoppage was a violation of the contract.

It is appellant's position that because the contract does not expressly contain a no-strike clause, the work stoppage was not illegal, even though there was a mandatory arbitration clause in the agreement.

It would seem that this question was answered by the Supreme Court in Local 174, Teamsters Union v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95, 82 S. Ct. 571 (1962), when it held that a binding arbitration clause in a collective bargaining agreement gives rise to an implied no-strike clause. However, District 5 attempts to distinguish Lucas by arguing that in the agreement in the instant case (1) there is an express abrogation of no-strike clauses in previous agreements, and (2) the word "exclusively," in relation to arbitration, was removed from a prior agreement. These arguments are not convincing.

In Old Ben Coal Corp. v. Local Union 1487 of United Mine Workers, 457 F.2d 162 (7th Cir. 1972), a case involving this same collective bargaining agreement, the court held that where the provisions for arbitration of non-national disputes were mandatory... that was pro tanto an obligation not to strike. Id. at 164. The Sixth Circuit also interpreted this same agreement to imply a no-strike clause in Blue Diamond Coal Co. v. United Mine Workers, 436 F.2d 551 (6th Cir. 1970).*fn1 A no-strike clause has similarly been implied by the courts in other circuits: W. ...


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