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OBERGFELL v. GREEN

October 6, 1939

OBERGFELL et al.
v.
GREEN et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOLDSBOROUGH

In this case the facts are simple and clearly established, and the rules of law clear, and easy of application. The case comes to me upon an amended bill, the original bill having been dismissed by Mr. Justice BAILEY, with leave to amend.

For the purposes of this opinion, I shall speak of the plaintiffs simply as the Brewers Union, and of the defendants as the American Federation of Labor, and the Teamsters Union. The plaintiffs seek to enjoin the transfer of beer drivers from the Brewers Union to the Teamsters Union. In 1933, at the convention of the American Federation of Labor, the Federation adopted a report of its Executive Council as follows: "In the case of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers of America vs. The International Union of the United Brewery, Flour, Cereal and Soft Drink Workers of America, the Executive Council is of the opinion and decides that teamsters and chauffeurs in the brewery industry properly belong to and come under the jurisdiction of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Chauffeurs."

 The plaintiff takes the position that the above resolution and subsequent acts of the American Federation amounts to an attempted transfer of the beer drivers from the Brewery Union to the Teamsters Union. The American Federation of Labor takes the position that the resolution, being merely declaratory, is not justiciable. It further contends that the convention of the American Federation of Labor has final authority in jurisdictional disputes, and that in any event that the interpretation placed by the American Federation of Labor upon its contract with the plaintiff is binding upon all parties and therefore not justiciable.

 In 1887, the plaintiff became affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, at which time it was agreed that the plaintiff would retain, as an affiliate of the Federation, the same jurisdiction over employees which it had before its affiliation with the Federation. At the time of its affiliation, the plaintiff had jurisdiction over beer drivers. The plaintiff's jurisdiction over beer drivers was not controverted for 13 years. In 1899, not Teamsters Union became affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, and in 1900 claimed jurisdiction over beer drivers. At that time, the American Federation of Labor took the position that it had no authority to pass upon the indicated jurisdictional controversy and further took the position that it was bound by its contract with the plaintiff to the effect that the plaintiff's affiliation with the American Federation of Labor should in no way affect the jurisdiction of the plaintiffs over any employees of which it had jurisdiction at the time of its affiliation.

 At the 1900 convention, the American Federation of Labor undertook to take such action was would prevent jurisdictional disputes, this opinion having reference specifically to the attempted jurisdictional claim of the Teamsters Union over the beer drivers. At that time, Section 11, Article 9, was inserted by the American Federation of Labor into its Constitution and still is a part of its Constitution. This section is as follows: "No charter shall be granted by the American Federation of Labor to any National, International, Trade, or Federal Labor Union without a positive and clear definition of the trade jurisdiction claimed by the applicant, and the charter shall not be granted if the jurisdiction claimed is a trespass on the jurisdiction of existing affiliated unions, without the written consent of such unions; no affiliated International, National, or Local Union shall be permitted to change its title or name, if any trespass is made thereby on the jurisdiction of an affiliated organization, without first having obtained the consent and approval of a Convention of the American Federation of Labor, and it is further provided, that should any of the members of such National, International, Trade, or Federal Labor Union work at any other vocation, trade or profession, they shall join the union of such vocation, trade or profession, provided such are organized and affiliated with the American Federation of Labor."

 The 1900 convention after adopting Section 11, Article 9, as indicated above, adopted a resolution appearing on page 159 of the reports of the American Federation of Labor for 1900 which resolution is as follows:

 "We submit the following Resolution No. 220:

 "Resolved, That the President of the American Federation of Labor be and is hereby instructed to correspond with the executive officers of all affiliated national and international unions, requesting them to submit a written declaration defining their claims of trade jurisdiction. The information so received to become a permanent record of the American Federation of Labor, and a guide as to the issuance of charters.

 "Jas. O'Connell

 "D. J. Keefe

 "J. Crimmins

 "C. J. Barrett

 "Martin ...


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