Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Broadway & Fourth Ave. Realty Co. v. Local No. 181

December 21, 1951

BROADWAY & FOURTH AVE. REALTY CO.
v.
LOCAL NO. 181, HOTEL AND RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES UNION ET. AL.



Stewart

STEWART, Justice. This appeal is from a final order of the Jefferson Circuit Court, Chancery Branch, Second Division, overruling a motion and amended motion of Broadway & Fourth Avenue Realty Company to vacate so much of a prior judgment rendered by it that allowed peaceful picketing at or around the Martin Brown Building and to adjudge in lieu thereof that all picketing be prohibited at that building in the future. To reverse the ruling below, appellant contends: (1) That picketing around the Martin Brown Building is illegal because its purpose has been and is now to compel appellant to coerce its employees in the selection of their bargaining representatives in violation of KRS 336.130; and (2) that the evidence shows that the strike and the picketing around the Martin Brown Building have wholly failed in their purpose and appellant is entitled to have further picketing enjoined.

On March 22, 1951, E. G. Bartlett and William E. Fredenberger, business agents, respectively, of Local No. 181, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union, and of Local No. 320, International Brotherhood of Firemen & Oilers, wrote a letter to J. Graham Brown, owner of virtually all of the capital stock of the Brown Hotel Company which in turn owns the Brown and Kentucky Hotels in Louisville, formally requesting that he recognize these unions as the exclusive bargaining agency of the employees of the Brown and Kentucky Hotels. The record shows that these two men were also clothed with authority to bargain with the two hotels in behalf of Local No. 79, Bartenders International Union, but this union is not involved here. Upon Brown's refusal to accede to the demand of the unions, Bartlett and Fredenberger called a strike on March 29, 1951, at the two hotels, and from 300 to 400 of the employees at both hotels went out on a strike. The two hotels employ from 800 to 1000 people, the number varying with the seasonal demand. The unions established a picket line of a great number of ex-employees around the Brown and Kentucky Hotels, around the Brown Building and in the alley upon which the service entrance of the Martin Brown Building opens.

The Martin Brown Building, located at Fourth Avenue and Broadway and across Fourth Avenue from the Brown Hotel, is owned by appellant, Broadway & Fourth Avenue Realty Company, and the latter is a separate corporation from the corporation that owns the Brown and Kentucky Hotels. All of the capital stock of appellant is owned by another corporation, and Brown owns all but the qualifying shares of the capital stock of the last-mentioned corporation.

On March 30, 1951, a temporary restraining order issued from the circuit court enjoining the unions from maintaining more than two pickets at each entrance of the Brown and Kentucky Hotels and completely forbidding the unions from picketing around the Brown Building or the Martin Brown Building. On April 2, 1951, Bartlett and Fredenberger wrote to Brown claiming, for the first time, that their unions represented the employees of the Brown Building and the Martin Brown Building and requested that he recognize the two unions as the bargaining agency of these employees. On April 5, 1951, the trial court, after a hearing upon notice to dissolve the temporary restraining order, adjudged a labor dispute to exist between the Brown and Kentucky Hotels and their employees and also between the Brown Building and the Martin Brown Building and their employees; allowed two pickets with a captain at the entrances of each hotel and in the alley at the service entrance of the Martin Brown Building; and, in addition, permitted two pickets with a captain at the main entrance of the latter building from six in the evening to eight the next morning.

At the time the strike was called 14 or 15 employees were working at the Martin Brown Building and ten of these walked out. The vacancies of those striking were filled promptly, and Brown and Harold E. Harter, the manager of the Martin Brown Building, stated in their depositions that no employee who went out on strike would be re-employed. On June 8, 1951, seventeen employees of the Martin Brown Building, being all of those at the time employed, signed a statement to the effect that neither collectively nor individually had they designated appellees or Local No. 79, Bartenders International Union, nor any of the agents or parent organizations of these unions, as their bargaining agents to represent them with appellant as to wages or working conditions. The statement further recited in substance that the employees had no dispute with their employer; that the picketing of the Martin Brown Building was done without their consent or approval; and that they wanted the pickets removed. This statement was prepared by the attorney for Brown and appellant. The employees were called to the office of their manager, Harter, who requested them to sign it. Harter in his deposition said that he read the statement to the employees, that he then explained to them they were under no compulsion to sign it, and that they signed it voluntarily.

At the outset we may state that we agree with appellant's argument that an act by an employer which would be a crime or a violation of a legislative enactment or contrary to a defined public policy is not a proper object of concerted action against him by workers. This rule is in accord with KRS 336.130. In addition, this principle of law is the very basis of the recent Supreme Court decisions which appellant vigorously insists are applicable here, these cases being Building Service Employees International Union v. Gazzam, 339 U.S. 532, 70 S.Ct. 784, 94 L.Ed. 1045; International Brotherhood of Teamsters, C., W. & H. Union v. Hanke, 339 U.S. 470, 70 S.Ct. 773, 94 L.Ed. 995; Hughes v. Superior Court of California, 339 U.S. 460, 70 S.Ct. 718, 94 L.Ed. 985; and Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490, 69 S.Ct. 684, 93 L.Ed. 834.

Therefore, if the object of the strike in controversy is an act against which the law has definitely set its face, it is not a proper object of concerted action. In this connection, appellant contends that a letter dated April 2, 1951, addressed to Brown, is a demand that he coerce the employees at the Martin Brown Building to join appellee unions, the language of the letter being:

'Dear Mr. Brown:

'This is to advise that inasmuch as we represent the employees of the Martin-Brown and Brown Buildings which are operated by the Broadway and Fourth Avenue Realty Company, we respectfully request that you recognize the Hotel and Restaurant Workers International Union, Local #181, and the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers, Local #320, as the bargaining agency for all employees except those in a supervisory or clerical capacity.

'Yours very truly,

/s/ 'Wm. E. Fredenberger

/s/ 'E. G. Bartlett'

We do not gather from this communication that Brown is himself expected to force his employees to join appellee unions. The letter is nothing more than a request that Brown recognize appellees as the bargaining agency for his employees at the Martin Brown Building, since these unions already represented certain employees at the building who had struck. Moreover, the evidence of those who wrote the letter sheds light on its objective. For instance, Bartlett in his deposition gave the following reason for asking Brown to recognize the unions: 'We represent the employees that were working there at the time of the strike, who came out on strike.' Fredenberger, testifying on this point, said: 'If we obtain recognition, which we will, we will then negotiate with the employees. How many of those people will remain in the building, I don't know. Those who do remain, we would then be bargaining for them as well as the people who are out on strike.'

But, taking the letter at its face value, does it ask Brown to do an unlawful act? We believe the answer to this question is supplied by this language from the Restatement ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.