382 U.S. 884 (1965)

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U.S. Supreme Court

SIMMONS v. UNION NEWS CO. , 382 U.S. 884 (1965)

382 U.S. 884

Florence SIMMONS, petitioner,
UNION NEWS CO., a New York Corporation.
No. 224, Misc.

Supreme Court of the United States

October 18, 1965

Dee Edwards, for petitioner. Frederic S. Glover, Jr., for respondent.

Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Denied.

Dissenting opinion by Mr. Justice BLACK with whom the Chief Justice concurs:

    'I would grant certiorari in this case. While petitioner presents other interesting and important questions concerning the right of trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment and concerning the power of a district court to grant summary judgment, my opinion is addressed to the question of whether the courts below were right in denying petitioner Simmons a court trial of her claim that she had been wrongfully discharged without 'just cause' in violation of the collective bargaining agreement under which she was employed. The ground for refusing to let her try her case was that her employer and her union had agreed among themselves that her discharge was for 'just cause.' I think the courts below were wrong. The material facts upon which I base my conclusion are these:
    'Petitioner was one of about a dozen employees working at the lunch counter in respondent's restaurant in a railway station. For about a year prior to petitioner's discharge, profits at the lunch counter lagged behind those expected by respondent. Respondent suspected that this was due either to the mishandling or to the actual stealing of its funds or goods. The collective bargaining agreement provided that no employee should be discharged without 'just cause' and that prospective discharges would be discussed by the employer and the union. Pursuant to the contract, the company's representative went to the union's representative to discuss what could be done in order to improve the profit situation at the lunch counter. The company representative suggested that all of the counter employees be discharged and other take

    Page 382 U.S. 884 , 885

    their places. The union representative objected. After lengthy negotiations, however, a plan was agreed upon by the company and the union under which five of the employees would be immediately laid off for a two- week period. If at the end of the period, records indicated that there was a significant improvement in the company's business at the lunch counter, it was agreed that the five employees were to be discharged. The five were laid off including the petitioner and Gladys Hildreth. [Footnote 1] When the company convinced the union that the lunch counter profits had increased during the period, the union agreed with respondent that the workers should be discharged permanently. Both petitioner and Miss Hildreth vigorously protested. They urged the union to carry their protest all the way up through the various stages of negotiations leading to arbitration. The union representative, however, refused to give any help to petitioner and Miss Hildreth. Then, petitioner, by herself, took the matter up with the company, endeavoring to settle it as a personal grievance of her own. The company refused to negotiate with petitioner in any way whatever, notwithstanding 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act2 which states in part, 'That any individual employee or a group of employees shall have the right at any time to present grievances to their employer and to have such grievances adjusted, without the intervention of the bargaining representative, as long as the adjustment is not inconsistent with the terms of a collective bargaining agreement then in effect.' Petitioner, out of a job, then brought this action against the company for the alleged breach of contract in discharging her.' [382 U.S. 884 , 886]

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