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03/15/88 COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS AMERICA v. MARILYN

Filed: March 15, 1988.

COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 5714 AND COMMUNICATIONS WORKERS OF AMERICA, LOCAL 5800, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
MARILYN F. REEB AND SYLVIA T. MEGNIS, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPEAL FROM THE MARION MUNICIPAL COURT, ROOM NO. 8, The Honorable Richard H. Huston, Judge, Cause Nos. M886-1424 and M886-381.

Ratliff, C.j., Robertson, J. and Shields, P.j., concur.

Author: Ratliff

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

RATLIFF, C.J.

This appeal involves the consolidation of two (2) cases brought by the Communications Workers of America, Locals 5714 and 5800 to enforce and collect fines imposed under the Union's constitution. Both cases were heard and decided by the Marion County Municipal Court. Local 5714 appeals from the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Marilyn F. Reeb. Local 5800 appeals from the trial court's judgment in favor of Sylvia T. Megnis. In both cases the trial court ruled that the Union's claims violated the public policy of this state as codified in Indiana Code section 22-6-2-1 et seq. We reverse both decisions and remand for a trial on the merits of Local 5714's claim against Reeb and order judgment in favor of Local 5800 on the claim against Megnis.

FACTS

On August 7, 1983, the Communications Workers of America Union, including Locals 5714 and 5800, commenced a nationwide strike against the Bell Telephone Systems, including the Indiana Bell Telephone Company. Marilyn Reeb and Sylvia Megnis allegedly crossed union picket lines and worked during the strike. Locals 5714 and 5800 pursuant to union rules charged Reeb and Megnis with violations of the Union's constitution, Article XIX, section 1, which provides that members of the union may be fined for working during an authorized strike. Both Reeb and Megnis were given notice of their respective charge and hearing thereon. After the hearings before a union committee, both were found guilty of violating the Union's constitution and fined accordingly. The Locals demanded payment from Reeb and Megnis. Neither Reeb nor Megnis paid their respective fines.

APPEAL BY LOCAL 5714

Local 5714 filed suit against Reeb, to collect the fine levied for crossing the picket line in violation of the Union's constitution. Thereafter, Reeb filed a motion for summary judgment on the ground that the Union's strike and fine for working behind picket lines violated Indiana's Public Utility Anti-Strike Act, Ind. Code § 22-6-2-1 et seq. Local 5714 responded and argued that the strike was protected under the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq. (hereinafter LMRA) which pre-empted the Indiana Act. The Union also filed a motion for summary judgment and filed exhibits and affidavits to establish Reeb's status as a full member of the Union. Reeb filed a memorandum in opposition and an affidavit alleging non-membership. The trial court granted Reeb's motion for summary judgment and denied Local 5714's motion on the ground that the fines grew out of an illegal strike. The court stated:

"It is clear from reading the statutes I.C. 22-6-2-1 et seq. that it is against the public policy of this state as expressed by the Indiana Legislature for employees of public utilities to strike. Therefore, this Court cannot enforce plaintiff's claim which is in clear violation of these statutes. Furthermore, to enforce plaintiff's claim would be to encourage the parties in the future to commit a Class B misdemeanor."

Record at 66. Local 5714 appeals from this ruling.

APPEAL BY LOCAL 5800

Local 5800 filed suit to collect the fine levied against Megnis for crossing the picket line in violation of the Union's constitution. Although the original charges made before the union committee suggested Megnis worked for six (6) days in violation of the Union's constitution, the fine imposed and sought in court by the Union was for only two (2) days (i.e., the days Megnis worked behind the picket lines prior to her August 15, 1983, resignation from Union membership). Although both parties filed motions for summary judgment, the trial court did not rule on the motions, and the case proceeded to trial. After Local 5800 presented evidence the trial court entered judgment in favor of Megnis. The ...


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