Reset A A Font size: Print

District Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California.


Civ. 14980.

Decided: June 11, 1952

Allan L. Sapiro, San Francisco, Aaron Sapiro, Los Angeles, G. C. Ringole, San Francisco, for appellant. Charles P. Scully, San Francisco, for respondent.

Plaintiff sued for declaratory relief and damages. Defendants had a judgment adverse to plaintiff on all issues.

The pertinent and undisputed facts are fairly and briefly stated in appellant's closing brief from which we quote:

‘On October 4, 1942, plaintiff became a member of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees' International Alliance and Bartenders' International League of America, being admitted into Local 877 of Fairbanks, Alaska (Exhibit 1, membership book).

‘Plaintiff secured a traveling card from the Alaska local, and on December 15, 1942, deposited the same with Local 500 in San Diego, California, was admitted without any delay, and was informed he could start working the next day.

‘On December 22, 1945 he secured a traveling card from Local 500, came to San Francisco, and pursuant to the procedure set forth in the International Constitution, presented the card to Local 41. This was done in accord with the requirements of the International Constitution Secs. 57, 58(a), 60. The officials at the Local 41 office directed plaintiff to return on Friday, January 4, 1946, which he did. On that date plaintiff was given an application number, and thereafter his name was placed on a registration list. However he was denied admission into Local 41.

‘Prior to January 4, 1946, it was the practice of Local 41 to admit members of the International Union with traveling cards. Defendant Dougherty admitted (1) that Local 41 did not seek authority for a different procedure until February, 1946; (2) that such procedure became effective in February, 1946; (3) that the book in which the traveling cards were registered was opened on February 1, 1946.

‘Subsequent to January 4, 1946, plaintiff continued to report to Local 41 almost every day inquiring as to the acceptance of his traveling card. He could not ask for a job through the union because he had not yet been admitted, although jobs were available to him if he were admitted. Plaintiff was compelled to seek other employment; and between May, 1948, and August, 1948, he was employed as a bartender in Guerneville, California, having deposited his traveling card with Local 77 in Santa Rosa. On August 10, 1948, plaintiff was finally admitted to membership in Local 41, and immediately was employed as a bartender in San Francisco by the S.J.R. Corporation, which, in 1946, had agreed to employ plaintiff as soon as he was admitted into Local 41.’

The main issue involves an interpretation of Section 60 of the Bartenders' International Union which reads:

‘Sec. 60. Local Unions shall be compelled to recognize and admit members who travel from one city to another, provided such members bring a traveling card and membership book from a Local Union in good standing and the card and book is properly signed and seal attached, and members so admitted shall be allowed to participate in all of the work coming under the jurisdiction of the Local Union subject to the rules for employment prevailing in the Local accepting the traveling card. All such rules for employment must be approved by the General President.’ Plaintiff's case calls for an interpretation of the section making it a must requirement of the local unions to accept a traveling card under the conditions stated. Defendants contend that they are excused from the mandatory provisions of the section because of a local rule excusing compliance when the local union adopts a rule suspending acceptance of a traveling card when local conditions of employment are such that all active members of the union are unable to procure work; they also rely on an ‘interpretation’ of the rule by the international president. Their argument calls for an amendment of the international rule—not for an interpretation. When the language of a rule is clear no official may nullify it under the guise of ‘interpretation’. Riviello v. Journeymen Barbers etc. Union, 109 Cal.App.2d 123, 240 P.2d 361.

The section of the International Constitution is plain and unambiguous. It is mandatory and calls for no interpretation or construction. It make compulsory the acceptance of the traveling card on presentation. The fact that the section authorizes the local to enact ‘rules for employment’ applicable to the manner in which such new member may participate in all work coming under the local's jurisdiction (if exercised in the manner as done here) merely creates a condition of a closed shop and a closed membership contrary to law. James v. Marinship Corp., 25 Cal.2d 721, 728, 729, 155 P.2d 329, 160 A.L.R. 900; Dotson v. International Alliance etc. Employes, 34 Cal.2d 362, 374, 210 P.2d 5. On the merits of the case—the right of appellant to admission into the local union—the judgment must be reversed.

Respondents argue the defense of laches and estoppel. Both are of the same type. They must be pleaded and proved. But no findings were made on either issue and we must assume that neither was proved to the satisfaction of the trial court.

Judgment reversed.

NOURSE, Presiding Justice.

GOODELL and DOOLING, JJ., concur.

Copied to clipboard