Smith v. Evening News Association

PETITIONER: Smith
RESPONDENT: Evening News Association
LOCATION: Formerly S. H. Kress and Co.

DOCKET NO.: 13
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 371 US 195 (1962)
ARGUED: Oct 10, 1962
DECIDED: Dec 10, 1962

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Smith v. Evening News Association

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 10, 1962 in Smith v. Evening News Association

Earl Warren:

Number 13, Doyle Smith, Petitioner, versus Evening News Association.

Mr. Harris.

Thomas E. Harris:

May it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Michigan.

It is before the Court on the pleadings, the courts below having dismissed the plaintiff's second amended declarations.

It is a suit for damages for breach of a collective bargaining agreement between the Newspaper Guild of Detroit and the respondent, the Evening News Association, which publishes a newspaper in that city.

The plaintiff sued on his own behalf and as the assignee of 49 other named employees of the newspaper.

The second amended declaration as alleged is as follows.

The plaintiff and his assignees were employees of the newspaper and were members of the union, the Newspaper Guild of Detroit.

At all irrelevant times, a collective bargaining agreement was in effect between the Guild and the respondent newspaper.

This agreement provided and this language appears on page five of the record, “There shall be no discrimination against any employee because of his membership or activity in the Guild.

The declaration goes on to allege that while this contract was in effect, there was a strike at the newspaper by a union other than the Guild.

That during the strike, the Guild members, that is the plaintiff and his assignors, were ready and willing to work during the strike but that the newspaper would not permit them to, that it locked them out in whole or in part.

But that -- at the same time, the paper permitted other employees who did not belong to any union to work.

The declaration alleges that this discrimination violated the contract and it asked $20,000 in damages.

The respondent moved to dismiss on the following grounds, this is the respondent's language.

One, defendant is charged with X which if true constitute an unfair labor practice as defined in the National Labor Relations Act as amended.

Two, the National Labor Relations Board has been vested by virtue of such amended Act with the exclusive jurisdiction of the subject matter.

The parties stipulated that the respondent is engaged in commerce within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act.

They were in agreement in the courts below and are in agreement here also that the language of the contract in part parallel Section 8 (a) (3) of the National Labor Relations Act, so that the Acts alleged as a violation of the contract would also be a violation of Section 8 (a) (3) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The trial court granted the respondent's motion to dismiss and the Supreme Court of Michigan affirmed.

Potter Stewart:

Mr. Harris, as a matter of local law could the Guild had sued as an uncooperative association as a party to the Guild of the party to -- as plaintiff?

Thomas E. Harris:

There is a statute in Michigan which allows a union to sue as an entity and that statute appears to me to permit a union to sue.

However, the Michigan cases mostly seemed to be brought by these class suits or by individual union members.

Potter Stewart:

And this (Inaudible)

Thomas E. Harris:

That is correct, Mr. Justice.

Potter Stewart:

I wondered if it is (Inaudible) would require that form of action which is required that as of a -- maybe by the Michigan law (Inaudible)

Thomas E. Harris:

It does not appear to me that it is required and I think that the explanation is that this suit was filed during the period between Westinghouse and Lincoln Mills, and that is -- and the Westinghouse decision --

Potter Stewart:

Well, I take it, in that case, it would have been much wiser if you've had the union a plaintiff.

Thomas E. Harris:

Well, the Westinghouse was interpreted by some people and the respondent's still interprets it as saying that only the individuals can sue.