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LOCAL NO. 207 v. PERKO

decided: June 3, 1963.

LOCAL NO. 207, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BRIDGE, STRUCTURAL AND ORNAMENTAL IRON WORKERS UNION, ET AL
v.
PERKO



CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF OHIO.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White; Goldberg took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Harlan

[ 373 U.S. Page 702]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case, involving a suit by a union member against a local union, raises issues of federal preemption similar to those considered in Local 100, United Assn. of Journeymen v. Borden, ante, p. 690, also decided today.

In the present case the respondent, Jacob Perko, filed a complaint in a state court against Local 207 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Union and certain of its officers, petitioners here, seeking damages under state common law. He alleged that for several years he had been a member in good standing of the iron workers local and had been employed "as a foreman" by the William B. Pollock Company; that the defendants without justification had conspired to deprive him of the right to continue

[ 373 U.S. Page 703]

     to work "as a foreman"; that pursuant to this conspiracy they had demanded that the company discharge him from his duties "as superintendent and foreman"; that as a result he had been discharged, and defendants had since prevented him from obtaining work "as a foreman in ironwork by representing that plaintiff's foreman's rights had been suspended"; and that he was entitled to damages for past and future loss of earnings in the amount of $75,000.

An order of the trial court that the complaint be dismissed was reversed by the Supreme Court of Ohio and the case remanded for trial, 168 Ohio St. 161, 151 N. E. 2d 742. The court disposed of the union's argument that Perko had failed to exhaust internal union remedies by noting that:

"Plaintiff is not attempting to secure any redress for loss of rights as a member of the union. . . . He is alleging that the union to which he belonged and certain named officials thereof committed a common-law tort against him by conspiring to deprive him of his right to earn a living and interfering with his contract of employment . . . ." 168 Ohio St., at 162, 151 N. E. 2d, at 744.

In answer to the union's argument that federal law precluded the exercise of state jurisdiction, the court stated that there was no federal preemption with regard to a state action "to recover damages for a common-law tort, which is also an unfair labor practice," citing International Assn. of Machinists v. Gonzales, 356 U.S. 617.

At trial, a verdict was directed for petitioners, but this ruling was reversed on appeal, and a second trial was held. The evidence at this trial showed that Perko had generally worked for the company as a "foreman" or "superintendent";*fn1 that in December 1953 he was working as

[ 373 U.S. Page 704]

     a superintendent on a particular project; that in that capacity he gave instructions to boilermakers with respect to performance of certain phases of the work that the iron workers claimed; and that following this incident Perko was charged by members of petitioner local with assisting boilermakers in violation of the union's rule*fn2 and was found guilty, fined and suspended from membership. The ...


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