AMERICAN STEEL FOUNDRIES v. TRICITY CENTRAL TRADES COUNCIL et al.
257 U.S. 184 (42 S.Ct. 72, 66 L.Ed. 189)
AMERICAN STEEL FOUNDRIES v. TRICITY CENTRAL TRADES COUNCIL et al.
Reargued: Oct. 4-5, 1921.
Decided: Dec. 5, 1921.
- opinion, TAFT [HTML]
Syllabus from pages 184-186 intentionally omitted
Mr. Max Pam, of Chicago, Ill., for petitioner.
Argument of Counsel from pages 186-189 intentionally omitted
Mr. Frank C. Smith, of St. Louis, Mo., for respondents.
Argument of Counsel from pages 189-192 intentionally omitted
Mr. Chief Justice TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.
The American Steel Foundries is a New Jersey corporation operating a large plant for the manufacture of steel products in Granite City, Ill. In May, 1914, it filed a bill in the District Court for the Southern District of Illinois to enjoin the defendants, the Tri-City Central Trades Council, and 14 individual defendants, some of them officers of the Council, all of them citizens of other states than New Jersey, from carrying on a conspiracy to prevent complainant from retaining and obtaining skilled laborers to operate its plant. The bill charged that the conspiracy was being executed by organized picketing, accompanied by threats, intimidation and violence toward persons employed or seeking employment there. The defendants in their answer admitted that the Central Trades Council had established a picket upon streets leading to the plant, with instructions to notify all persons entering it that a strike had been called because of reduction of wages, and to use all honorable means to persuade such persons not to take the places of the men on the strike; admitted the participation of individual defendants in the picketing, but denied threats of injury or violence or responsibility for the violence that admittedly had occurred. After replication was filed, the cause was heard. A restraining order issued on filing of the bill, and a final decree was entered by which defendants were
'perpetually restrained and enjoined from in any way or manner whatsoever by use of persuasion, threats, or personal injury, intimidation, suggestion of danger or threats of violence of any kind, interfering with, hindering, obstructing or stopping any person engaged in the employ of the American Steel Foundries in connection with its business or its foundry in the city of Granite City, county of Madison, state of Illinois, or elsewhere, and from interfering by persuasion, violence or threats of violence, in any manner with any person desiring to be employed by said American Steel Foundries in its said foundry or plant, and from inducing or attempting to compel or induce by persuasion, threats, intimidation, force or violence or putting in fear or suggestions of danger any of the employees of the American Steel Foundries or persons seeking employment with it so as to cause them to refuse to perform any of their duties as employees of the American Steel Foundries, and from preventing any person by persuasion, threats, intimidation, force or violence, or suggestion of danger or violence, from entering into the employ of said American Steel Foundreies, and from protecting, aiding or assisting any person or persons in committing any of said acts, and from assembling, loitering or congregating about or in proximity of the said plant or factory of the American Steel Foundries for the purpose of doing, or aiding or encouraging others in doing, any of the said unlawful or forbidden acts or things, and from picketing or maintaining at or near the premises of the complainant, or on the streets leading to the premises of said complainant, any picket or pickets, and from doing any acts or things whatever in furtherance of any conspiracy or combination among them, or any of them, to obstruct, or interfere with said American Steel Foundries, its officers, agents or employees, in the free and unrestrained control and operation of its plant, foundry and property and the operation of its business, and also from ordering, directing, aiding, assisting or in any manner abetting any person committing any or either of the acts aforesaid, and also from entering upon the grounds, foundry, or premises of the American Steel Foundries without first obtaining its consent, and from injuring or destroying any of the property of the said American Steel Foundries.' There were 12 assignments of error on the appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals, but the important ones which raised the issue in this case were as follows:
'Eight. Because the complainant was not entitled to an injunction prohibiting the defendants while on the streets of Granite City or while in proximity to such foundry, from trying to persuade strike breakers from taking the places of the strikers.
'Ninth. Because the complainant was not entitled to an injunction prohibiting the defendants from stopping employees of complainant and suggesting to them that they should not work at such plant while a strike was on.
'Tenth. Because the complainant was not entitled to an injunction prohibiting the defendants from assembling, or congregating, in proximity of said foundry, or on the streets leading to such foundry.
'Eleventh. Because the complainant was not entitled to an injunction prohibiting the defendants from placing any picket, or pickets, upon the streets leading to such foundry, whose duty it was to notify those entering said foundry that there was a strike on.'
The Circuit Court of Appeals modified the final decree by striking out the word 'persuasion' in the four places in which it occurred, and by inserting after the clause restraining picketing the following: 'In a threatening or intimidating manner.' Fed. 728.
The Tri-City Central Trades Council is a labor organization composed of representatives of 37 trade unions of Granite City, Madison and Venice, adjoining towns in Illinois, including among them electricians, cranemen, mill hands, machinists, and stationary engineers. In April, 1914, the complainant, which ordinarily in full operation employed 1,600 men and, whose plant had been shut down since November of the previous year, resumed operations with about 350 of its regular men, 150 of whom belonged to the skilled trades, electricians, cranemen, mill hands, machinists and blacksmiths. At this trial, the works manager testified:
'When we opened April 6th we employed whoever we saw fit, whoever applied for employment at the gate. We had only called for in round numbers 300 men and laid off approximately 1,300. Eighty or 90 per cent. of the employees were old men. I assume these men were members of various organizations; I can't state definitely as to that.'
When business was resumed in April, half of skilled workmen were given wages at rates from 2 cents to 10 cents an hour below those paid before the plant had shut down. The Trades Council was advised of this about April 15th, and appointed a committee to secure reinstatement of the previous wages. The manager of the complainant told them that he ran an open shop, did not recognize organized labor and would not deal with the committee, but would entertain any complaint by an employee. The Council thereupon, on April 22d, declared a strike on complainant's plant and displayed outside of the entrance to the plant a printed notice announcing that a strike was on at the plant and calling on union men and all labor to remain away from the works in order that an increase in wages might be secured. Only two men, defendants Churchill and Cook, acted upon the order to strike. Churchill was a member of the Machinist's Union. Cook was not a member of any union. The Council then established a picket, which was carried on for 3 or 4 weeks without intermission until the bill was filed on May 18th, and a restraining order issued.
Complainant's plant was in an enclosure of 25 acres and fronted on Niedringhaus avenue. The Wabash and other railroads crossed this street and ran along the side of the plant. There were four tracks. The timekeeper's gate of the plant opened on to the tracks. Directly opposite on the other side of the tracks was the Wabash depot, from 300 to 400 feet from the plant. It was on Niedringhaus avenue, and this street was the one used by many of the plant's employees in going to their homes in Granite City and in reaching the terminal of the street car line which many used. Complainant's employees testified that just as the picketing began, they were warned by some of the defendants that they would be hurt if they did not quit. The master mechanic of the plant, Hall, testified that Lamb, one of the defendants, the national representative of the Machinist's Union at St. Louis, when in company with 4 other pickets, handed him the circular of the Trades Council, and told him:
'We don't like the way you have treated our boys down here, and we just came down to raise a little hell.'
Lamb admitted saying to Hall that the cut in wages was a severe one and that it looked as though they were going to raise hell in the town because conditions were good; that he did not like to see a fight going on, but it looked as though it would come. The evidence showed that the pickets would stand about near the Wabash tracks, sometimes on the foundries' side, sometimes on the depot side, sometimes on Niedringhaus avenue, and that there were 3 or 4 groups of them varying from 4 to a dozen in each group. The headquarters of all the groups was at the Wabash depot.
There was an assault on April 30th, in which one Haefner, an employee, was attacked by 3 of the picketers. On May 8th, a man named Crabtree and 4 other employees were attacked by a group of more than 7 of the pickets. On May 13th, another assault occurred, which developed into a mob, and 2 witnesses for complainant swore positively that the president of the Trades Council, Galloway, was engaged in this disturbance and was throwing bricks. There were other assaults, the last one on May 18th, before the restraining order issued that day reached the picketers. Officers of the company testified that a number of men wounded in these assaults were brought into the plant. All disturbances ceased after the restraining orders were served.
Galloway testified he was present at the plant 3 mornings for about 15 or 20 minutes, and 4 or 5 evenings for maybe half an hour; that he engaged in no violence while he was there and saw none; that the representatives of the Central Trades were there doing picket duty, and that the closest he saw them to the plant was 20 feet in front of Wabash depot; that the Central Trades did not instruct anybody to assault any one, but told them to picket the streets leading to the plant, and ask the men not to go into the plant or take work under the reduced wages. He said that the pickets were selected from the different crafts interested in the wages; that the joint board of the Council placed the pickets where they were, and the Council then sanctioned this action. He said he went down there to see that things were going right; that they placed the pickets there to prevent, if possible, the men from entering and working at the plant until they arbitrated the difference or advanced their wages to the former scale; that the pickets were not authorized to commit an unlawful act.
B. F. Lamb, already referred to, visited Granite City because he had a local union there affiliated with the Tr-City Trades Council. He went there 3 times a week during the strike, and did picket duty. He was on the picket line itself, which was about 100 or 120 yards from the plant. Pickets were merely there to convey information and ask co-operation. He denied that they authorized any assaults and he saw no assaulting. He heard of some fights which took place away from the plant, but he was in no way connected with them.
Hartbeck, who was business agent and sectetary of the Blacksmith's Union, said that he acted on the picket line every time he went over there, sometimes in the evening, sometimes at noontime. He said the pickets would approach a man and tell him the conditions and request him to come out; that he did that himself, but that he never threatened any one and never used any violence of any kind. He said:
'In my estimation the 4 or 5 witnesses who swore to my presence at different times to assault testified falsely. When the reduction of wages took effect, I was ordered by the superior of our District Board to go over there and to have men over there that would go to work to have them come out if they could under reduction of wages; probably some of our union men would go in unbeknowns of the trouble. At the time I went over there none of our men were at work in the plant because they had been sent for. But I went over anyway.'
Harry McKenney, a picket, testified that he did assault one of the follows there; that he, Churchill, and another picket were standing together, and that he told a man named Haefner, an employee, to stay away from the building; that Haefner called him an insulting and profane name, and said he would work where he pleased, and that then he hit Haefner; that he never tried to stop anybody from going into the plant by force; that he did hit Haefner while he was on the picket line; that he did not hit him because he was going into the works, but just because he called him a bad name.
Churchill, a striker and picket, said he 'never struck a man over therehe merely warned them, asked them to stay out of there; better keep away.' He said that he was present when Haefner was hit by McKenney for calling him a bad name, that Haefner begged them not to hit him again, but McKenney hit him twice. Then Haefner said he was going home. Churchill said he was present when the porter from the plant was bringing in two lunch baskets; that some one kicked the baskets out of the porter's hands. Churchill said he was in the 'bunch' standing there, but he did not know who the man was that upset them. He said two or three fights took place, and that he (Churchill) saw the big one with 200 men in it. He was half a block away.
Ishman, another picketer, said he was a craneman and resided at Granite City; that he was a member of the Cranesmen's Union; that he did picket duty during the strike; that he was there quite a bit morning and evening; that the duty of the pickets was to inform the employees of the plant that there was a strike on, and to inform them of the conditions under which they were working. He said that, on May 8th, Crabtree, an employee, and 4 other employees, were coming across the railroad tracks from their work; that they had 7 pickets there. He said they got to talking to them, and somebody started a fight; he said somebody made a pass at him, and that he hit somebody. He said they claimed it was Crabtree; that it was 150 yards from the plant.
Cook, a defendant, who was not a union man, went out with the strike. He said he left because he did not like his wages, and quit because there was a strike on. Nobody sent him there as a picket, but he joined them, and they were all together picketing and talking to some men going to or coming from work. He said he wanted to quit work and did not want anybody else to work in his place.
It is clear from the evidence that, from the outset, violent methods were pursued from time to time in such a way as to characterize the attitude of the picketers as continuously threatening. A number of employees, sometimes 15 or more, slept in the plant for a week during the trouble, because they could not safely go to their homes. The result of the campaign was to put employees and would-be employees in such fear that many abandoned work, and this seriously interfered with the complainant in operating the plant until the issue of the restraining order.
The first question in the case is whether section 20 of the Clayton Act of October 15, 1914, chapter 323, 38 Stat. 738 (Comp. St. § 1243d), is to be applied in this case. The act was passed while this case was pending in the Circuit Court of Appeals. In Duplex Co. v. Deering, 254 U. S. 443, 464, 41 Sup. Ct. 172, 65 L. Ed. 349, a suit to restrain a secondary boycott had been brought before the passage of the act, but did not come to hearing until after its passage. It was held that because relief by injunction operates in futuro and the right to it must be determined as of the time of the hearing, section 20 of the act relating to injunctions was controlling in so far that decrees entered after its passage should conform to its provisions. The decree here appeled from in the District Court had been entered before the Clayton Act passed. But the whole cause was taken up by the appeal. The complainant had no vested right in the decree of the District Court while it was subject to review. Rafferty v. Smith, Bell & Co., 257 U. S. 226, 42 Sup. Ct. 71, 66 L. Ed. 208, this day announced. The Circuit Court of Appeals was called upon to approve or to change the decree and was obliged, therefore, to regard the new statute in its conclusion, and so are we.
Section 20 is as follows:
'That no restraining order or injunction shall be granted by any court of the United States, or a judge or the judges thereof, in any case between an employer and employes, or between employers and employes, or between employes, or between persons employed and persons seeking employment, involving, or growing out of, a dispute concerning terms or conditions of employment, unless necessary to prevent irreparable injury to property, or to a property right, of the party making the application, for which injury there is no adequate remedy at law, and such property or property right must be described with particularity in the application, which must be in writing and sworn to by the applicant or by his agent or attorney.
'And no such restraining order or injunction shall prohibit any person or persons, whether singly or in concert, from terminating any relation of employment, or from ceasing to perform any work or labor, or from recommending, advising, or persuading others by peaceful means to do so; or from attending at any place where any such person or persons may lawfully be, for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or from peacefully persuading any person to work or to abstain from working; or from ceasing to patronize or to employ any party to such dispute, or from recommending, advising, or persuading others by peaceful and lawful means so to do; or from paying or giving to, or withholding from, any person engaged in such dispute, any strike benefits or other moneys or things of value; or from peaceably assembling in a lawful manner, and for lawful purposes; or from doing any act or thing which might lawfully be done in the absence of such dispute by any party thereto; nor shall any of the acts specified in this paragraph be considered or held to be violations of any law of the United States.'
It has been determined by this court that the irreparable injury to property or to a property right, in the first paragraph of section 20, includes injury to the business of an employer, and that the second paragraph applied only in cases growing out of a dispute concerning terms or conditions of employment, between an employer and meployee, between employers and employees, or between employees, or between persons employed and persons seeking employment, and not to such dispute between an employer and persons who are neither ex-employees nor seeking employment. Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U. S. 443, 41 Sup. Ct. 172, 65 L. Ed. 349. Only two of the defendants, Cook and Churchill, who left at the time of the strike, can invoke in their behalf section 20. We must, therefore, first consider the propriety of the decree as against them, and then as against the other defendants.
The prohibitions of section 20, material here, are those which forbid an injunction against, first, recommending, advising or persuading others by peaceful means to cease employment and labor; second, attending at any place where such person or persons may lawfully be for the purpose of peacefully obtaining or communicating information, or peacefully persuading any person to work or to abstain from working; third, peaceably assembling in a lawful manner and for lawful purposes. This court has already called attention in the Duplex Case to the emphasis upon the words 'peaceable' and 'lawful' in this section. 254 U. S. 443, 473, 41 Sup. Ct. 172, 65 L. Ed. 349. It is clear that Congress wished to forbid the use by the federal courts of their equity arm to prevent peaceable persuasion by employees, discharged or expectant, in promotion of their side of the dispute, and to secure them against judicial restraint in obtaining or communicating information in any place where they might lawfully be. This introduces no new principle into the equity jurisprudence of those courts. It is merely declaratory of what was the best practice always. Congress thought it wise to stabilize this rule of action and render it uniform.
The object and problem of Congress in section 20, and indeed of courts of equity before its enactment, was to reconcile the rights of the employer in his business and in the access of his employees to his place of business and egress therefrom without intimidation or obstruction, on the one hand, and the right of the employees, recent or expectant, to use peaceable and lawful means to induce present employees and would-be employees to join their ranks, on the other. If in their attempts at persuasion or communication with those whom they would enlist with them, those of the labor side adopt methods which however lawful in their announced purpose inevitably lead to intimidation and obstruction, then it is the court's duty which the terms of section 20 do not modify, so to limit what the propagandists do as to time, manner and place as shall prevent infractions of the law and violations of the right of the employees, and of the employer for whom they wish to work.
How far may men go in persuasion and communication and still not violate the right of those whom they would influence? In going to and from work, men have a right to as free a passage without obstruction as the streets afford, consistent with the right of others to enjoy the same privilege. We are a social people and the accosting by one of another in an inoffensive way and an offer by one to communicate and discuss information with a view to influencing the other's action are not regarded as aggression or a violation of that other's rights. If, however, the offer is declined, as it may rightfully be, then persistence, importunity, following and dogging become unjustifiable annoyance and obstruction which is likely soon to savor of intimidation. From all of this the person sought to be influenced has a right to be free and his employer has a right to have him free.
The nearer this importunate intercepting of employees or would-be employees is to the place of business, the greater the obstruction and interference with the business and especially with the property right of access of the employer. Attempted discussion and argument of this kind in such proximity is certain to attract attention and congregation of the curious, or, it may be, interested bystanders, and thus to increase the obstruction as well as the aspect of intimidation which the situation quickly assumes. In the present case the 3 or 4 groups of picketers, were made up of from 4 to 12 in a group. They constituted the picket line. Each union interested, electricians, cranemen, machinists and blacksmiths, had several representatives on the picket line, and assaults and violence ensued. They began early and continued from time to time during the 3 weeks of the strike after the picketing began. All information tendered, all arguments advanced and all persuasion used under such circumstances were intimidation. They could not be otherwise. It is idle to talk of peaceful communication in such a place and under such conditions. The numbers of the pickets in the groups constituted intimidation. The name 'picket' indicated a militant purpose, inconsistent with peaceable persuasion. The crowds they drew made the passage of the employees to and from the place of work, one of running the gauntlet. Persuasion or communication attempted in such a presence and under such conditions was anything but peaceable and lawful. When one or more assaults or disturbances ensued, they characterized the whole campaign, which became effective because of its intimidating character, in spite of the admonitions given by the leaders to their followers as to lawful methods to be pursued, however sincere. Our conclusion is that picketing thus instituted is unlawful and can not be peaceable and may be properly enjoined by the specific term because its meaning is clearly understood in the sphere of the controversy by those who are parties to it. We are supported in that view by many well reasoned authorities, although there has been contrariety of view. Barnes v. Typographical Union, 232 Ill. 425, 83 N. E. 932, 14 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1150, 122 Am. St. Rep. 129; Franklin Union v. People, 220 Ill. 355, 77 N. E. 176, 4 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1001; Philip Henrici Co. v. Alexander, 198 Ill. App. 568; Vegelahn v. Guntner, 167 Mass. 94, 44 N. E. 1077, 35 L. R. A. 722, 57 Am. St. Rep. 443; Glass Co. v. Glass Association, 72 N. J. Eq. 653, 66 Atl. 953; Id. 77 N. J. Eq. 219, 79 Atl. 262, 41 L. R. A. (N. S.) 445; Jersey City Printing Co. v. Cassidy, 63 N. J. Eq. 759, 53 Atl. 230; Frank v. Herold, 63 N. J. Eq. 443, 52 Atl. 152; Goldberg v. Stablemen's Union, 149 Cal. 429, 86 Pac. 806, 8 L. R. A. (N. S.) 460, 117 Am. St. Rep. 145, 9 Ann. Cas. 1219; Pierce v. Stablemen's Union, 156 Cal. 70, 103 Pac. 324; Local Union No. 313 v. Stathakis, 135 Ark. 86, 205 S. W. 450, 6 A. L. R. 894; Beck v. Teamster's Union, 118 Mich. 497, 77 N. W. 13, 42 L. R. A. 407, 74 Am. St. Rep. 421; In re Langell, 178 Mich. 305, 144 N. W. 841, 50 L. R. A. (N. S.) 412; Jensen v. Cook and Master's Union, 39 Wash. 531, 81 Pac. 1069, 4 L. R. A. (N. S.) 302; St. Germain v. Bakery & C. Workers Union, 97 Wash. 282, 166 Pac. 665, L. R. A. 1917F, 824; Jones v. E. Van. Winkle Gin & Machine Works, 131 Ga. 336 62 S. E. 236, 17 L. R. A. (N. S.) 848, 127 Am. St. Rep. 235; Union Pacific Co. v. Ruef (C. C.) 120 Fed. 102; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe v. Gee (C. C.) 139 Fed. 582; Stephens v. Ohio State Telephone Co. (D. C.) 240 Fed. 759.
A restraining order against picketing will advise earnest advocates of labor's cause that the law does not look with favor on an enforced discussion of the merits of the issue between individuals who wish to work, and groups of those who do not, under conditions which subject the individuals who wish to work to a severe test of their nerve and physical strength and courage. But while this is so, we must have every regard to the congressional intention manifested in the act and to the principle of existing law which it declared, that ex-employees and others properly acting with them shall have an opportunity, so far as is consistent with peace and law, to observe who are still working for the employer, to communicate with them and to persuade them to join the ranks of his opponents in a lawful economic struggle. Regarding as primary, the rights of the employees to work for whom they will, and, undisturbed by annoying importunity or intimidation of numbers, to go freely to and from their place of labor, and keeping in mind the right of the employer incident to his property and business to free access of such employees, what can be done to reconcile the conflicting interests?
Each case must turn on its own circumstances. It is a case for the flexible remedial power of a court of equity which may try one mode of restraint, and if it fails or proves to be too drastic, may change it. We think that the strikers and their sympathizers engaged in the economic struggle should be limited to one representative for each point of ingress and egress in the plant or place of business and that all others be enjoined from congregating or loitering at the plant or in the neighboring streets by which access is had to the plant, that such representatives should have the right of observation, communication and persuasion, but with special admonition that their communication, arguments and appeals shall not be abusive, libelous or threatening, and that they shall not approach individuals together but singly, and shall not in their single efforts at communication or persuasion obstruct an unwilling listener by importunate following or dogging his steps. This is not laid down as a rigid rule, but only as one which should apply to this case under the circumstances disclosed by the evidence and which may be varied in other cases. It becomes a question for the judgment of the chancellor who has heard the witnesses, familiarized himself with the locus in quo and observed the tendencies to disturbance and conflict. The purpose should be to prevent the inevitable intimidation of the presence of groups of pickets, but to allow missionaries.
With these views, it is apparent that we can not sustain the qualification of the order of the District Court which the Circuit Court of Appeals made. That court followed the case of Iron Moulders Union v. Allis-Chalmers Co., 166 Fed. 45, 91 C. C. A. 631, 20 L. R. A. (N. S.) 315, and modified the order of the District Court which enjoined defendants 'from picketing or maintaining at or near the premises of the complainant or on the streets leading to the premises of said complainant, any pickets and pickets' by adding the words 'in a threatening or intimidating manner.' This qualification seems to us to be inadequate. In actual result, it leaves compliance largely to the discretion of the pickets. It ignores the necessary element of intimidation in the presence of groups as pickets. It does nto secure practically that which the court must secure and to which the complainant and his workmen are entitled. The phrase really recognizes as legal that which bears the sinister name of 'picketing' which it is to be observed Congress carefully refrained from using in section 20.
There remains to consider, so far as defendants Churchill and Cook, the ex-employees, are concerned, the part of the decree of the District Court which forbade them by persuasion to induce employees, or would-be employees to leave, or stay out of, complainant's employ. The effect of it is to enjoin persuasion by them at any time or place. This certainly conflicts with section 20 of the Clayton Act. The decree must be modified as to these two defendants by striking out the word 'persuasion.'
The second important question in the case is as to the form of decree against the Tri-City Trades Council and the other defendants. What has been said as to picketing applies to them, of course, as fully as to the ex-employees, but how as to the injunction against persuasion?
The argument made on behalf of the American Foundries in support of enjoining persuasion is that the Tri-City Central Trades Council and the other defendants being neither employees nor strikers were intruders into the controversy, and were engaged without excuse in an unlawful conspiracy to injury the American Fourdries by enticing its employees, and, therefore, should be enjoined.
It is to be noted, that while there was only one member of the unions of the Trades Council who went out in the strike, the number of skilled employees then engaged by the Foundries was not one-quarter of the whole number of men who would be engaged when it was in full operation. The works manager said that 80 or 90 per cent. of the employees were old men and that he assumed these men were members of various organizations. Other witnesses, members of the unions, testified that they had been employees of complainant in the previous fall. It is thus probable that members of the local unions were looking forward to employment when complainant should resume full operation and even though they were not ex-employees within the Clayton Act, they were directly interested in the wages which were to be paid.
Is interference of a labor organization by persuasion and appeal to induce a strike against low wages, under such circumstances without lawful excuse and malicious? We think not. Labor unions are recognized by the Clayton Act as legal when instituted for mutual help and lawfully carrying out their legitimate objects. They have long been thus recognized by the courts. They were organized out of the necessities of the situation. A single employee was helpless in dealing with an employer. He was dependent ordinarily on his daily wage for the maintenance of himself and family. If the employer refused to pay him the wages that he thought fair, he was nevertheless unable to leave the employ and to resist arbitrary and unfair treatment. Union was essential to give laborers opportunity to deal on equality with their employer. They united to exert influence upon him and to leave him in a body in order by this inconvenience to induce him to make better terms with them. They were withholding their labor of economic value to make him pay what they thought it was worth. The right to combine for such a lawful purpose has in many years not been denied by any court. The strike became a lawful instrument in a lawful economic struggle or competition between employer and employees as to the share or division between them of the joint product of labor and capital. To render this combination at all effective, employees must make their combination extend beyond one shop. It is helpful to have as many as may be in the same trade in the same community united, because in the competition between employers they are bound to be affected by the standard of wages of their trade in the neighborhood. Therefore, they may use all lawful propaganda to enlarge their membership and especially among those whose labor at lower wages will injure their whole guild. It is impossible to hold such whole guild. It is impossible to hold such persuasion and propaganda without more, to be without excuse and malicious. The principle of the unlawfulness of maliciously enticing laborers still remains and action may be maintained therefor in proper cases, but to make it applicable to local labor unions, in such a case as this, seems to us to be unreasonable.
The elements essential to sustain actions for persuading employees to leave an employer are first, the malice or absence of lawful excuse, and, second, the actual injury. The effect of cases cited as authority must be determined by an examination of the pleadings and facts to see how the malice or lack of lawful excuse was established, and whether there was not illegality present in the means used. Thus Walker v. Cronin, 107 Mass. 555, and Thacker Coal Co. v. Burke, 59 W. Va. 253, 53 S. E. 161, 5 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1091, 8 Ann. Cas. 885, suits by an employer against members of a labor union in which the right of action for persuading was sustained, were heard on demurrer to the complaint. The element of malice was supplied by averment of the complaint, and was of course, admitted by the demurrer. There are other cases in which the persuasion was accompanied by the intent to secure a breach of contract, or was part of a secondary boycott or had elements of fraud, misrepresentation or intimidation in it. Perkins v. Pendleton, 90 Me. 166, 38 Atl. 96, 60 Am. St. Rep. 252, was a case of the latter kind. In Lucke v. Clothing Cutters, 77 Md. 396, 26 Atl. 505, 19 L. R. A. 408, 39 Am. St. Rep. 421 it was held unlawful in a labor union to seek to compel an employer to discharge the plaintiff by intimidation, and it was said that the state law authorizing formation of Trade Unions to secure most favorable conditions for labor of their members was not a warrant for making war upon the nonunion man or for illegal interference with his rights and privileges. A suit by an employee, who seeks to hold a labor union liable for seeking his discharge by threatening to strike unless his employer discharges him, stands on a different footing from a mere effort by a labor union to persuade employees to leave their employment. There are in such a combination against an employee the suggestions of coercion, attempted monopoly, deprivation of livelihood and remoteness of the legal purpose of the union to better its members' condition, not present in a case like the present. Without entering into a discussion of those cases which include Brennan v. United Hatters of North America, 73 N. J. Law, 729, 65 Atl. 165, 9 L. R. A. (N. S.) 254, 118 Am. St. Rep. 727, 9 Ann. Cas. 698, Curran v. Galen, 152 N. Y. 33, 46 N. E. 297, 37 L. R. A. 802, 57 Am. St. Rep. 496, Berry v. Donavan, 188 Mass. 354, 74 N. E. 603, 5 L. R. A. (N. S.) 899, 108 Am. St. Rep. 499, 3 Ann. Cas. 738, and Plant v. Woods, 176 Mass. 492, 57 N. E. 1011, 51 L. R. A. 339, 79 Am. St. Rep. 330, it is sufficient to say they do not apply here.
The counsel for the Steel Foundries rely on two cases in this Court to support their contention. The first is that of the Hitchman Coal & Coke Co. v. Mitchell, 245 U. S. 229, 38 Sup. Ct. 65, 62 L. Ed. 260, L. R. A. 1918C, 497, Ann. Cas. 1918B, 461. The principle followed in the Hitchman Case cannot be invoked here. There the action was by a coal mining company of West Virginia against the officers of an International Labor Union and others to enjoin them from carrying out a plan to bring the employees of the complainant company and all the West Virginia mining companies into the International Union, so that the Union could control, through the union employees, the production and sale of coal in West Virginia, in competition with the mines of Ohio and other states. The plan thus projected was carried out in the case of the complainant company by the use of deception and misrepresentation with its nonunion employees, by seeking to induce such employees to become members of the union contrary to the express term of their contract of employment that they would not remain in complainant's employ if union men, and after enough such employees had been secretly secured, suddenly to declare a strike against complainant and to leave it in a helpless situation in which it would have to consent to be unionized. This court held that the purpose was not lawful, and that the means were not lawful and that the defendants were thus engaged in an unlawful conspiracy which should be enjoined. The unlawful and deceitful means used were quite enough to sustain the decision of the court without more. The statement of the purpose of the plan is sufficient to show the remoteness of the benefit ultimately to be derived by the members of the International Union from its success and the formidable, country-wide and dangerous character of the control of interstate commerce sought. The circumstances of the case make it no authority for the contention here.
The Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U. S. 443, 41 Sup. Ct. 172, 65 L. Ed. 349 also cited, can have no bearing here. In that case, the International Association of Machinists, an unincorporated association, having a membership of more than 60,000, united in a combination to compel the complainant to unionize its factory, enforce the closed shop, the 8-hour day and the union scale of wages by boycotting the interstate trade of that company. They conducted in the city of New York a campaign of threatening the customers of the Printing Press Company, the trucking companies that carried its presses, and those who were engaged in the work of setting up such presses, with injury to them in their business, if they continued to deal with the Duplex Company or its presses. It was a palpable effort on the part of the International Union of Machinists to institute a secondary boycott, that is, by coercion, to use the right of trade of persons having nothing to do with the controversy between the Duplex Company and the Machinist's Union, and having no interest in it, to injure the Duplex Company in its interstate trade. This was decided not to be within section 20 of the Clayton Act, but was held, following the case of Loewe v. Lawler, 208 U. S. 274, 28 Sup. Ct. 301, 52 L. Ed. 488, 13 Ann. Cas. 815, to be an unlawful combination in restraint of interstate trade. The Hitchman Case was cited in the Duplex Case, but there is nothing in the ratio decidendi of either which limits our conclusion here, or which requires us to hold that the members of a local labor union and the union itself do not have sufficient interest in the wages paid to the employees of any employer in the community to justify their use of lawful and peaceable persuasion to induce those employees to refuse to accept such reduced wages and to quit their employment. For this reason, we think that the restraint from persuasion included within the injunction of the District Court was improper, and in that regard the decree must also be modified. In this we agree with the Circuit Court of Appeals.
The decree of the Circuit Court of Appeals is reversed in part and affirmed in part, and the case is remanded to the District Court for modification of its decree in conformity with this opinion.
Mr. Justice BRANDEIS concurs in substance in the opinion and the judgment of the Court.
Mr. Justice CLARKE dissents.
CC∅ | Transformed by Public.Resource.Org