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

May 2, 1952

LOCAL NO. 181, HOTEL & RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES UNION ET AL.
v.
BROADWAY & FOURTH AVENUE REALTY CO. LOCAL NO. 181, HOTEL & RESTAURANT EMPLOYEES UNION ET AL. V. BROWN HOTEL CO.



Cullen

CULLEN, Commissioner. We have before us appeals by three labor unions, their business agents and some of their individual members who were made parties as representatives of the entire membership, from two judgments of the Jefferson Circuit Court, entered in consolidated actions, having to do with the right of the unions to picket the Brown Hotel, the Kentucky Hotel, and the Martin Brown Building, in Louisville.

The Brown Hotel and the Kentucky Hotel are owned and operated by the Brown Hotel Company, a corporation. The Martin Brown Building (an office building) is owned and operated by the Broadway and Fourth Avenue Realty Company, another corporation. Mr. Graham Brown is the owner, directly or indirectly, of both corporations.

In March 1951, employes of the two hotels and of the Martin Brown Building went out on strike, and the unions commenced picketing at the three buildings. The two corporations filed suits for injunctions, which suits were consolidated, and on April 6, 1951, a permanent injunction was entered, enjoining all picketing except peaceful picketing by a specified number of pickets at each of the three buildings.

On May 4, 1951, the corporations filed motion for a contempt rule against the unions, alleging violation of the injunction. Following a hearing at which considerable evidence was introduced, a judgment was entered, on May 24, 1951, in which the court found that the picketing itself had been peaceful, but had been conducted and maintained 'in a setting of violence, intimidation and other lawless acts directly attributable to the three unions and their respective members.' The judgment therefore declared that all picketing was enjoined, but that this part of the judgment would not become effective unless the unions, in the future, were found to have been guilty 'of some other act in violation of the permanent injunction' of April 6, or unless the union failed to put up a $25,000 bond guaranteeing payment of any damage resulting from 'subsequent acts in violation of said injunction.'

One of the appeals now before us is from the above judgment of May 24.

The unions filed the bond required by the judgment of May 24, and continued to maintain their picket lines. On July 31, 1951, the corporations filed a motion, based upon an alleged violent act by one of the pickets, asking that the court immediately put into effect that portion of the judgment of May 24 requiring the removal of all pickets. Proof was heard, and the court took the matter under advisement. Early in December, and before the motion of July 31 had been decided, the corporations filed a motion to hear additional proof as to further acts of violence that had occurred since July. The additional evidence was heard, and on December 13 the court entered a judgment finding that since the entry of the judgment of May 24 the unions had been guilty of acts in violation of the injunction of April 6. Upon this finding the court adjudged that there be put into immediate effect the provisions of the judgment of May 24 enjoining all picketing.

The second of the two appeals before us is from the judgment of December 13.

With respect to the judgment of May 24, the unions contend (1) that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant the finding that the unions were in contempt of court, and (2) that the court had no authority, in a contempt proceeding, to enter any judgment other than for a fine and imprisonment within the limits fixed by KRS 432.260. The latter contention was decided adversely to the unions in Local No. 181, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union v. Miller, Ky., 240 S.W.2d 576, and will not be again considered on this appeal.

As to the sufficiency of the evidence, the proof showed numerous and aggravated acts of violence, during the period from April 6 to May 9, against employes of the hotels, guests of the hotels, and persons selling goods to the hotels. Assaults were committed against employes; rocks and flaming bricks were thrown at night through the windows of employes' homes; on one occasion poison was placed in the food served to employes in one of the hotels, and on another occasion poison was placed in the food served to guests of the hotel, resulting in more than forty guests becoming ill; an explosive bomb was placed in the lobby of the Kentucky Hotel on the night before the Derby, when the hotel was crowded with guests, and a stench bomb was placed in the lobby of the Brown Hotel on the same night; a truck belonging to a company delivering merchandise to the hotels was dynamited; and there were other acts of intimidation or violence.

The contention on behalf of the unions is not so much that the nature of the acts committed was not sufficient to justify the contempt judgment, but rather that there was no proof that the unions were responsible for or connected with the acts. The unions argue that the acts were merely isolated or sporadic outbursts of individual tempers, with no underlying pattern or plan such as to indicate union responsibility.

In answer to this contention, there was proof that during the period in question no act of violence or intimidation against employes, guests or merchandise suppliers of any other hotel in Louisville was reported to the police. In view of this fact, and in view of the fact that the acts of violence involving the Brown Hotel and the Kentucky Hotel occurred almost nightly during a period of more than a month, commencing immediately after the injunction of April 6, we cannot say that the lower court erred in finding as a fact that the lawless acts were 'directly attributable to the three unions and their respective members'.

As stated by the Supreme Court of the United States, in Milk Wagon Drivers Union v. Meadowmoor Dairies, 312 U.S. 287, 61 S.Ct. 552, 555, 85 L.Ed. 836:

'These acts of violence are neither episodic nor isolated. Judges need not be so innocent of the actualities of such an industrial conflict as this record discloses as to find in the Constitution a denial of the right * * * to conclude that the use of force on such a scale was not the conduct of a few irresponsible outsiders. * * *'

That the court did not err in fixing union responsibility for the acts of violence is borne out by the fact that, following the execution by the unions of the bond required by the judgment of May 24, there was almost a complete ...


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