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STOKELY VAN CAMP, INC. v. THACKER

April 24, 1975

Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., Plaintiff
v.
Troy Thacker et al., Defendants


Beeks, D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: BEEKS

BEEKS, D.J.:

 Plaintiff Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. ("Employer") moves the Court to grant temporary restraining orders enjoining defendant unions from continuing work stoppages now underway at Employer's plants and facilities at Mt. Vernon and Burlington, Washington. *fn1" Employer's motions necessitate a determination of the breadth of the exception that Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks Local 770 *fn2" has carved from the anti-injunction provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act. *fn3"

 The situation out of which the present litigation arises may be described as follows. Employer operates plants and facilities throughout the United States and enters into collective bargaining agreements with local unions at its several locations. At one such location, said to be in Idaho or Oregon, Employer is involved in a labor dispute with a union, not a party herein, known as Local 670. Local 670 has picketed Employer's facilities at Mt. Vernon and Burlington. Defendants, Locals 788 and 411 have "sanctioned" the activities of Local 670, and members of the defendant unions have chosen to honor Local 670's picket lines. Employer charges that the resulting work stoppages at its Mt. Vernon and Burlington facilities are in violation of the no-strike provisions and the grievance and arbitration procedures set forth in its collective bargaining agreements with the defendant locals. It is further alleged that perpetuation of the work stoppages will result in immediate and irreparable harm to Employer. Accordingly, Employer asserts that its necessary and proper remedy is the issuance by this Court of temporary restraining orders against defendants.

 Our initial inquiry must seek to align the factual situations presented herein with the legal framework that has developed since the uneasy confluence of Boys Markets and Norris-LaGuardia. Norris-LaGuardia ousts the federal courts of jurisdiction to issue injunctions or restraining orders in cases arising out of labor disputes, and specifically proscribes enjoining work stoppages. *fn4" In Boys Markets, however, the Supreme Court sought to reconcile Norris-LaGuardia with the subsequently enacted Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, *fn5" and with the growing preeminence of the arbitration remedy in labor disputes. *fn6" Accordingly, in Boys Markets the Court renounced its earlier position *fn7" and held that Norris-LaGuardia does not bar the enjoining of work stoppages that are in violation of collective bargaining agreements containing no-strike and arbitration provisions. The Court stressed congressional policy in favor of peaceful resolution of labor disputes, a policy furthered by judicial encouragement of arbitration. It was reasoned that grievance and arbitration provisions are a quid pro quo of the no-strike clause, and employers would be discouraged from contracting for arbitration procedures if no-strike clauses were rendered unenforceable by denial of injunctive relief. A thorough analysis of competing considerations led the Court to vindicate congressional policy favoring voluntary establishment of a mechanism for peaceful resolution of labor disputes, and it was concluded that "the core purpose of the Norris-LaGuardia Act is not sacrificed by the limited use of equitable remedies to further this important policy * * *." *fn8"

 The Court was careful, however, to limit its holding. *fn9" Setting forth principles for the guidance of district courts faced with the question of whether to grant injunctive relief under ยง 301(a), *fn10" the Court proscribed the issuance of such relief "unless and until [the district court] decides that the case is one in which an injunction would be appropriate despite the Norris-LaGuardia Act." *fn11" Additionally,

 
"* * * [when] a strike is sought to be enjoined because it is over a grievance which both parties are contractually bound to arbitrate, the District Court may issue no injunctive order until it first holds that the contract does have that effect * * *." *fn12"

 Application of the holding of Boys Markets to the cases at bar must therefore begin with an examination of the effect of the collective bargaining agreements. In C75-266S, the collective bargaining agreement between Employer and Local 788 provides:

 
"6.1 Should any difference arise between the Company and the Union or any employee or group of employees pertaining to the application or interpretation of the terms and conditions of this Agreement, it shall be settled in accordance with the following procedure * * *."

 There follows a detailed five-step procedure ending with binding arbitration. The agreement also includes a no-strike clause:

 
" Article VII -- No Strike, No Lockout
 
"7.1 Except as provided in Section 7.3, there will be no strikes, work stoppages, picket lines, slow-downs, secondary boycotts, or other concerted activity by the employees, and there will be no lockouts by the Company for the duration of this Agreement. The Union guarantees to support the Company fully in maintaining operations."
 
* * *
 
"7.3 It shall not be a violation of this Agreement, and it shall not be a cause for discharge or disciplinary action, in the event an employee refuses to cross a primary picket line sanctioned by the Local Union. This right does not extend to a secondary picket ...

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