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FURUKAWA FARMS INC v. CHAVEZ

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

FURUKAWA FARMS, INC., et al., Plaintiffs and Appellants, v. Cesar CHAVEZ and Manuel Chavez et al., Defendants and Respondents.

Civ. 38217.

Decided: May 23, 1972

Haight, Lyon & Smith, by George C. Lyon, Harold H. Brown, Los Angeles, for appellants. Cohen, Farnsworth, Denison, Carder & Engelhardt, Salinas, for respondents.

Plaintiffs, who are agricultural employers engaged in vegetable growing in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County entered on September 25, 1970, denying their application for an injunction pursuant to the California Jurisdictional Strike Act (Labor Code § 1115 et seq.). It is alleged that the defendant United Farm Workers Organizing Committee, AFL–CIO (‘UFWOC’), a labor union, is engaged in picketing and strike activities for the purpose of compelling plaintiffs to recognize UFWOC as the exclusive bargaining agent in place and stead of the Western Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, whom the petitioners had previously recognized as exclusive bargaining agent for persons employed by petitioners as agricultural field workers.

Plaintiffs sought preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting defendants from ‘. . . in any way causing or encouraging a strike or work stoppage or cessation of work among employees of plaintiffs or in picketing at any of the plants, sheds, fields and places of business of plaintiffs, . . . or from encouraging said employees of plaintiffs to continue to strike or picket or from threatening said employees with disciplinary action of any kind if they fail to strike or picket.’

The trial court's findings of fact, which are not challenged by the defendants, succinctly describe the background of this dispute and we set them out here:

‘7. That the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Western Conference of Teamsters, and particularly Local 865 of the Food Packers Processors and Warehousemen's Union has, since 1967, represented packing shed workers of certain growers within the Santa Maria Valley, and as to the Job Farms and Point Sal Farming Company has represented classes of workers generally connected with the agricultural industry for the past fifteen (15) years.

‘8. That the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Western Conference of Teamsters through the Local 865 of the Food Packers, Processors and Warehousemen's Union (hereinafter referred to as to the Teamster's Union) has during the past three (3) years made demands upon plaintiffs to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for all field workers in the Santa Maria Valley.

‘9. That on or about July 15, 1970, the Teamster Union made demands upon plaintiffs (except Furukawa Farms, Inc.), among certain other Santa Maria Valley lettuce growers, to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for all driver-loaders, stitchers, and gluers employed by such growers in their lettuce harvesting operation.

‘10. That driver-loaders, loaders, stitchers, and gluers are workers in the vegetable fields whose duties are performed in the field but are not row workers, pickers, or packers. There are approximately 35 such driver-loaders, stitchers, and gluers in the lettuce harvest operations, and approximately 3,000 total farm workers in the Santa Maria Valley.

‘11. That from July 18 through July 22, 1970, the Teamsters Union called a strike by such driver-loaders, stitchers, and gluers against plaintiffs (except Furukawa Farms, Inc.) and certain other Santa Maria Valley lettuce growers, because of the failure of such growers to recognize the Teamster Union as the exclusive bargaining agent for such driver-loaders, stitchers, and loaders.

‘12. That other Teamster members honored the aforementioned strike, including the pre-cooler workers, and that as a result of said strike, the lettuce harvesting operations of certain Santa Maria Valley growers were substantially impaired.

‘13. That in the course of negotiations following the Teamster's strike of July 18, through July 22, 1970, on or about July 24, 1970, the Teamster Union made demand upon plaintiffs to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for all field workers.

‘14. That in conjunction with the afore-described demand for exclusive representation, the Teamster Union threatened to extend its strike into the fields if its demand for exclusive representation of the field workers was not met.

‘15. That on July 24, 1970, plaintiffs orally agreed to recognize the Teamster Union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its field workers.

‘16. That on July 27, 1970, plaintiffs entered into a written agreement recognizing the Teamster Union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its field workers.

‘17. That the afore-described agreement contained a Union Shop provision.

‘18. That the afore-described agreement provided that ‘authorized agents of the Union shall have the right to visit properties of the Company at all reasonable times and places, to conduct legitimate Union business; however, he shall not unduly interrupt operations.’

‘19. That prior to July 24, 1970, no union was recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for field workers of plaintiffs in the Santa Maria Valley.

‘20. Prior to and at the time the plaintiffs executed a contract with the Teamster Union on July 27, 1970, plaintiffs did not know, and there was no evidence introduced that they attempted to ascertain how many of their field workers were members of, or desired representation by the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee or the Teamsters Union.

‘21. That on the evening of July 27, 1970, and the morning of July 28, 1970, supervisory personnel of the Point Sal Farming Operation offered Teamster membership cards to [three of their employees].

‘. . .

‘23. That on the evening of July 27, 1970, defendants called a strike against plaintiffs, and on the morning of July 28, 1970, struck plaintiffs' fields and have been picketing the afore-described fields thereafter, excepting for the period of August 15 through August 22, 1970.

‘24. That the purposes of this strike and picketing were to force plaintiffs to recognize the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee as the exclusive bargaining agent for plaintiffs' field workers and to obtain higher wages.

‘25. As a result of the strike by United Farm Workers Organizing Committee and resultant picketing, there has been concerted interference with plaintiffs' agricultural activities.

‘26. Defendants have participated in a concerted refusal to perform work for plaintiffs, and have participated in a concerted interference with plaintiffs' agricultural operation, arising out of a controversy between the Teamsters Union and the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee as to which of them should have the exclusive right to bargain collectively with plaintiff on behalf of plaintiffs' employees or any of them.

‘27. That at no time within one year prior to the commencement of the within action have plaintiffs, or any of them, dominated the Teamster Union within the terms of Labor Code Section 1117.

‘28. That at no time within one year prior to the commencement of this action have plaintiffs, or any of them, controlled the Teamster Union within the terms of Labor Code Section 1117.

‘29. That at no time within one year of the commencement of this action have the plaintiffs, or any of them, furnished financial aid to the Teamster Union within the terms of Labor Code Section 1117.

‘30. The Teamsters Union, with which plaintiffs executed agreements covering their field workers, had not broadly contacted plaintiffs' field workers in any way prior to receiving recognition from plaintiffs as such workers' bargaining representative. Plaintiffs' field workers did not participate in the selection of the Teamsters Union as their bargaining representative. Plaintiffs recognized the Teamsters Union as the bargaining agent of their field workers without any showing by the Teamster Union that it was the bargaining representative desired by the majority or a substantial number, or any particular number of such field workers.

‘. . .

‘32. That the defendants have engaged in mass picketing, and both plaintiffs and defendants have made threats of violence against each other.

‘. . .

‘34. Subsequent to July 27, 1970, and under the provisions of their contract with the Teamster Union, plaintiffs granted access to their fields to representatives of the Teamster Union while defendants were picketing thereat and while denying access thereto to defendants.’

Based on these findings, the court issued a preliminary injunction against mass picketing and violence but refused to apply the Jurisdictional Strike Act and enjoin all picketing

The denial of the broader injunction was premised upon the court's conclusions of law that (1) Petitioners ‘interfered’ with the Teamsters Union by their ‘premature’ recognition of that union without determining whether the Teamsters represented a majority or any particular number of the field workers, and (2) that two of the plaintiffs, Job Farms and Point Sal Farming Company ‘interfered’ with the Teamster Union after the execution of the Teamster Contract by requesting certain employees to either sign Teamster Authorization Cards or leave their employment.

These conclusions frame the issues on this appeal which in the final analysis presents the single question of whether an employer can be said to have ‘interfered’ with a union and thus to have lost the protection of the Jurisdictional Strike Act by signing a contract for exclusive recognition with that union without first determining the desires of his employees.

This issue subsumes the issue raised by the fact that two of the plaintiffs after execution of the contract encouraged Teamster membership of some of its employees consonant with the Union Shop Clause of the contract.

The Jurisdictional Strike Act (Labor Code, §§ 1115–1122), in pertinent part, follows:

Section 1115 provides: ‘A jurisdictional strike as herein defined is hereby declared to be against the public policy of the State of California and is hereby declared to be unlawful.’

Section 1116 provides: ‘Any person injured or threatened with injury by violation of any of the provisions hereof shall be entitled to injunctive relief therefrom in a proper case, and to recover any damages resulting therefrom in any court of competent jurisdiction.’

Section 1117 provides: ‘As used herein, ‘labor organization’ means any organization or any agency or employee representation committee or any local unit thereof in which employees participate, and exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, hours of employment or conditions of work, which labor organization is not found to be or to have been financed in whole or in part, interfered with, dominated or controlled by the employer or any employer association within one year of the commencement of any proceeding brought under this chapter. The plaintiff shall have the affirmative of the issue with respect to establishing the existence of a ‘labor organization’ as defined herein.

‘As used herein, ‘person’ means any person, association, organization, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association, or labor organization.' (Emphasis added.)

Labor Code section 1118 defines a jurisdictional strike as ‘. . . a concerted refusal to perform work for an employer or any other concerted interfence with an employer's operation or business, arising out of a controversy between two or more labor organizations as to which of them has or should have the exclusive right to bargain collectively with an employer on behalf of his employees or any of them, or arising out of a controversy between two or more labor organizations as to which of them has or should have the exclusive right to have its members perform work for an employer.’

Adverting to section 1117, the trial court specifically found that the plaintiffs had not dominated, controlled or furnished financial aid to the Teamsters Union.

The ‘interference’ which the court found to have existed from the fact of recognition without demonstrated representation, has been eliminated from the equation by the clear pronouncement of Petri Cleaners, Inc. v. Automotive Employees Etc., Local No. 88, 53 Cal.2d 455, 2 Cal.Rptr. 470, 349 P.2d 76, and Messner v. Journeymen Barbers, Etc. International Union, 53 Cal.2d 873 4 Cal.Rptr. 179, 351 P.2d 347.

In Petri, our Supreme Court, 53 Cal.2d at p. 85, reiterated the well-established rule at page 469, 2 Cal.Rptr. at p. 479, 349 P.2d in California that: ‘An employer's decision whether or not to bargain with a labor organization has long been determined in the state by the free interaction of economic forces.’

In the case at bar, plaintiffs' recognition of the Teamsters Union came only after the latter had exerted strong, albeit legal, economic force which threatened harm to plaintiffs. It must be conceded that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is not a ‘company union’ by the usual and ordinary definition of that term, but is instead a powerful labor organization.

The Petri court concluded, at pp. 474–475, 2 Cal.Rptr. at p. 482, 349 P.2d at p. 88, that ‘. . . closed or union shop agreements and concerted activities to achieve them are lawful in this state whether or not a majority or the employees directly involved wish such agreements.’

If a union may lawfully use the various weapons in its arsenal in order to force a closed or union shop on an employer against the wishes of the employees, then if follows like night the day that the employer may lawfully yield and, as the price of survival, contract with that union against the wishes of his employees.

This result from the Petri decision was clearly observed by Mr. Justice Schauer in dissenting in that case when he stated at page 478, 2 Cal.Rptr. at page 485, 349 P.2d at page 91: ‘The new majority hold that in California the employers need not be permitted to participate in selecting ‘their own’ bargaining representatives; that such employes, if the ‘organizer’ and employer so agree, must accept the unwanted organizer . . . as their ‘representative’ or be discharged . . .'

In Englund v. Chavez, 24 Cal.App.3d 422, 101 Cal.Rptr. 54, the Court of Appeal for the First District, in a case involving the same unions but different employers dealt with the identical problem at issue before us.

The court there concluded that there had been no ‘interference’ with the Teamsters Union within the definition of section 1117 of the Labor Code and that the Jurisdictional Strike Act remedies were available to the employers.

Accordingly, the finding of the trial court here that ‘interference’ existed so as take the dispute out of the operation of the Jurisdictional Strike Act cannot be supported. Rather this appears to be a clear case of employers ‘caught between the rival claims of two or more labor organizations.’ (Petri, supra, 53 Cal.2d at 472, 2 Cal.Rptr. at 481, 349 P.2d at 87.) We conclude, therefore, that the existence of a jurisdictional strike as defined by Labor Code section 1118 and made unlawful by section 1115 was established.

Finally we turn to the question as to whether the requested preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting all forms of picketing would be so overbroad as to infringe upon the constitutionally protected First Amendment rights of the UFWOC. At the threshold of the inquiry, it is the well settled law in California that the Jurisdictional Strike Act properly enjoins peaceful picketing without any contravention of the constitutional right to free speech. (See Seven Up Etc. Co. v. Grocery Etc. Union, 40 Cal.2d 368, 254 P.2d 544; Sommer v. Metal Trades Council, 40 Cal.2d 392, 254 P.2d 559; Voeltz v. Bakery Etc. Union, 40 Cal.2d 382, 254 P.2d 553; United Farm Workers Organizing Committee v. Superior Court, 4 Cal.3d 556, 94 Cal.Rptr. 263, 483 P.2d 1215.)

A state may proscribe picketing carried on in pursuance of unlawful objectives. (See Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490, 69 S.Ct. 684, 93 L.Ed. 834; Hughes v. Superior Court, 339 U.S. 460, 70 S.Ct. 718, 94 L.Ed. 985; Sommer v. Metal Trades Council, suprai.)

That the First Amendment protects the imparting of information by picketing is not in any doubt. (See Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736, 84 L.Ed. 1093; Carlson v. California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 746, 84 L.Ed. 1104; Schwartz-Torrance Investment Corp. v. Bakery & Confectionery Workers' Union, 61 Cal.2d 766, 40 Cal.Rptr. 233, 394 P.2d 921.) But a state may set the limits of permissible contest open to industrial combatants (Thornhill v. Alabama, supra) and may, for legitimate purposes, enjoin peaceful picketing when it is aimed at compelling a violation of state law or public policy. (Hughes v. Superior Court, supra.) In the instant case, the activities of defendant which are sought to be enjoined are a clear violation of a statute designed to protect against manifest injustice to innocent third parties and to prevent exposing those innocent third parties to economic loss as a result of internecine warfare among competing unions.

The judgment is reversed with directions to issue an injunction as prayed for in accordance with this opinion.

COMPTON, Associate Justice.

ROTH, P. J., and HERNDON, J., concur.

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