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258

Opinion of the Court.

by an agreement? entered into on Ma

were controlled "for the period of Government possession"

29, 1946, between Secretary of the Interior Krug, as Coal Mines Administrator, and John L. Lewis, as President of the United Mine Workers of America. The Krug-Lewis agreement embodied far-reaching changes favorable to the miners; and, except as amended and supplemented therein, the agreement carried forward the terms and conditions of the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of April 11, 1945."

strikes or other labor disturbances are interrupting the operation of such facilities.

Section 3 directs that the authority under that section to take possession of the specified facilities will terminate with the ending of hostilities and that the authority under that section to operate facilities seized will terminate six months after the ending of hostilities. The President on December 31, 1946, proclaimed that hostilities were terminated on that day. 12 F. R. 1. 2 The initial paragraph of the contract provided:

"This agreement between the Secretary of the Interior, acting as Coal Mines Administrator under the authority of Executive Order No. 9728 (dated May 21, 1946, 11 F R. 5593), and the United Mine Workers of America, covers for the period of Government possession. the terms and conditions of employment in respect to all mines in Government possession which were as of March 31, 1946, subject to the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement, dated April 11, 1945."

* In compliance with Executive Order No. 9728 and 8 5 of the War Labor Disputes Act, the agreement had been submitted to and approved by the National Wage Stabilization Board.

* See p. 286 infra.
5 The saving clause was in the following form:

"Except as amended and supplemented herein, this agreement carries forward and preserves the terms and conditions contained in all joint wage agreements effective April 1, 1941, through March 31, 1943, the supplemental agreement providing for the six (6) day workweek, and all the various district agreements executed between the United Mine Workers and the various Coal Associations and Coal Companies (based upon the aforesaid basic agreement) as they existed on March 31, 1943, and the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement, dated April 11, 1945."

Opinion of the Court.

330 U.S.

On October 21, 1946, the defendant Lewis directed a letter to Secretary Krug and presented issues which led directly to the present controversy. According to the defendant Lewis, the Krug-Lewis agreement carried forward § 15 of the National Bituminous Coal Wage Agreement of April 11, 1945. Under that section either party to

. the contract was privileged to give ten days' notice in writing of a desire for a negotiating conference which the other party was required to attend; fifteen days after the beginning of the conference either party might give notice in writing of the termination of the agreement, effective five days after receipt of such notice. Asserting authority under this clause, the defendant Lewis in his letter of October 21 requested that a conference begin November 1

. for the purpose of negotiating new arrangements concerning wages, hours, practices, and other pertinent matters appertaining to the bituminous coal industry.

Captain N. H. Collisson, then Coal Mines Administrator, answered for Secretary Krug. Any contractual basis for requiring negotiations for revision of the Krug-Lewis agreement was denied. In the opinion of the Government, § 15 of the 1945 agreement had not been preserved by the Krug-Lewis agreement; indeed, § 15 had been expressly nullified by the clause of the latter contract providing that the terms contained therein were to cover the period of Government possession. Although suggesting that any negotiations looking toward a new agreement be carried on with the mine owners, the Government expressed willingness to discuss matters affecting the operation of the mines under the terms of the Krug-Lewis agreement.

6 The letter also charged certain breaches of contract by the Government and asserted significant changes in Government wage policy.

Captain Collisson also specifically denied breaches of contract on the part of the Government.

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Conferences were scheduled and began in Washington on November 1, both the union and the Government adhering to their opposing views regarding the right of either party to terminate the contract. At the fifth meeting, held on November 11, the union for the first time offered specific proposals for changes in wages and other conditions of employment. On November 13 Secretary Krug requested the union to negotiate with the mine owners. This suggestion was rejected.' On November 15 the union, by John L. Lewis, notified Secretary Krug that "Fifteen days having now elapsed since the beginning of said conference, the United Mine Workers of America, exercising its option hereby terminates said Krug-Lewis Agreement as of 12:00 o'clock P. M., Midnight, Wednesday, November 20, 1946.”

Secretary Krug again notified the defendant Lewis that he had no power under the Krug-Lewis agreement or under the law to terminate the contract by unilateral declaration.20 The President of the United States announced his strong support of the Government's position and requested reconsideration by the union in order to avoid a national crisis. However, the defendant Lewis, as union president, circulated to the mine workers copies of the November 15 letter to Secretary Krug. This communication was for the "official information" of union members.

The United States on November 18 filed a complaint in the District Court for the District of Columbia against

• Conferences were carried on without prejudice to the claims of either party in this respect.

Secretary Krug and defendant Lewis met privately on November 13 and again on November 14.

10 Secretary Krug had been advised by the Attorney General, whose opinion had been sought, that § 15 of the 1945 agreement was no longer in force.

Opinion of the Court.

330 U.S.

the United Mine Workers of America and John L. Lewis, individually and as president of the union. The suit was brought under the Declaratory Judgment Act" and sought judgment to the effect that the defendants had no power unilaterally to terminate the Krug-Lewis agreement. And, alleging that the November 15 notice was in reality a strike notice, the United States, pending the final determination of the cause, requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunctive relief.

The court, immediately and without notice to the defendants, issued a temporary order 12 restraining the

11 Judicial Code, 8 274d, 28 U.S.C. 8 400.
12 The pertinent part of the order was as follows:

“Now, THEREFORE, IT IS BY THE COURT this 18th day of November 1946,

"ORDERED that the defendants and each of them and their agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all persons in active concert or participation with them, be and they are hereby restrained pending further order of this Court from permitting to continue in effect the notice heretofore given by the defendant, John L. Lewis, to the Secretary of Interior dated November 15, 1946; and from issuing or otherwise giving publicity to any notice that or to the effect that the Krug-Lewis Agreement has been, is, or will at some future date be terminated, or that said agreement is or shall at some future date be nugatory or void at any time during Government possession of the bituminous coal mines; and from breaching any of their obligations under said Krug-Lewis Agreement; and from coercing, instigating, inducing or encouraging the mine workers at the bituminous coal mines in the Government's possession, or any of them, or any person, to interfere by strike, slow down, walkout, cessation of work, or otherwise, with the operation of said mines by continuing in effect the aforesaid notice or by issuing any notice of termination of agreement or through any other means or device; and from interfering with or obstructing the exercise by the Secretary of the Interior of his functions under Executive Order 9728; and from taking any action which would interfere with this Court's jurisdiction or which would impair, obstruct, or render fruitless, the determination of this case by the Court;

"AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that. this restraining order shall expire at 3 o'clock p. m. on November 27th, 1946, unless before such

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Opinion of the Court.

defendants from continuing in effect the notice of November 15, from encouraging the mine workers to interfere with the operation of the mines by strike or cessation of work, and from taking any action which would interfere with the court's jurisdiction and its determination of the case. The order by its terms was to expire at 3:00 p. m. on November 27 unless extended for good cause shown. A hearing on the preliminary injunction was set for 10:00 a. m. on the same date. The order and complaint were served on the defendants on November 18.

A gradual walkout by the miners commenced on November 18, and, by midnight of November 20, consistent with the miners' “no contract, no work” policy, a full-blown strike was in progress. Mines furnishing the major part of the nation's bituminous coal production were idle.

On November 21 the United States filed a petition for a rule to show cause why the defendants should not be punished as and for contempt, alleging a willful violation of the restraining order. The rule issued, setting November 25 as the return day and, if at that time the contempt was not sufficiently purged, setting November 27 as the day for trial on the contempt charge.

On the return day, defendants, by counsel, informed the court that no action had been taken concerning the November 15 notice, and denied the jurisdiction of the court to issue the restraining order and rule to show cause. Trial on the contempt charge was thereupon ordered to begin as scheduled on November 27. On November 26 the defendants filed a motion to discharge and vacate the rule to show cause.

Their motion challenged the jurisdiction of the court, and raised the grave question of

time the order for good cause shown is extended, or unless the defendants consent that it may be extended for a longer period;

"AND IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction be set down for hearing on November 27th, 1946, at 10:00 o'clock a. m."

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