The question presented is whether it is a violation of the Sherman Anti-trust Act
Upon the complaint of petitioners and after a lengthy hearing the District Court held that such a combination did violate the Sherman Act, entered a declaratory judgment to that effect, and entered an injunction restraining respondents from engaging in a wide range of specified activities. 41 F.Supp. 727, 51 F.Supp. 36. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision and dismissed the cause, holding that combinations of unions and business men which restrained trade and tended to monopoly were not in violation of the Act where the bona fide purpose of the unions was to raise wages, provide better working conditions, and bring about better conditions of employment for their members. 145 F.2d 215. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals having reached a contrary conclusion in a similar case, 144 F.2d 546, we granted certiorari in both cases.
The facts were sufficiently set out in the opinions below and need not be detailed again. The following summary will suffice for our purposes.
Petitioners are manufacturers of electrical equipment. Their places of manufacture are outside of New York City, and most of them are outside of New York State as well. They have brought this action because of their desire to sell their products in New York City, a market area that has been closed to them through the activities of respondents and others.
Some of the members of respondent union work for manufacturers who produce electrical equipment similar to that made by petitioners; other members of respondent union are employed by contractors and work on the installation of electrical equipment, rather than in its production.
The union's consistent aim for many years has been to expand its membership, to obtain shorter hours and increased wages, and to enlarge employment opportunities for its members. To achieve this latter goal — that is, to make more work for its own members — the union realized that local manufacturers, employers of the local members, must have the widest possible outlets for their product. The union therefore waged aggressive campaigns to obtain closed-shop agreements with all local electrical equipment manufacturers and contractors. Using conventional labor union methods, such as strikes and boycotts, it gradually obtained more and more closed-shop agreements in the New York City area. Under these agreements, contractors were obligated to purchase equipment from none but local manufacturers who also had closed-shop agreements with Local No. 3; manufacturers obligated themselves to confine their New York City sales to contractors employing the Local's members. In the course of time, this type of individual employer-employee agreement expanded into industry-wide understandings, looking not merely to terms and conditions of employment
Quite obviously, this combination of business men has violated both §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act,
The Sherman Act as originally passed contained no language expressly exempting any labor union activities. Sharp controversy soon arose as to whether the Act applied to unions. One viewpoint was that the only evil at which Congress had aimed was high consumer prices achieved through combinations looking to control of markets by powerful groups; that those who would have a great incentive for such combinations would be the business men who would be the direct beneficiaries of them; therefore, the argument proceeded, Congress drafted its law to apply only to business combinations, particularly the large trusts, and not to labor unions or any of their activities as such. Involved in this viewpoint were the following contentions: that the Sherman Act is a law to regulate trade, not labor, a law to prescribe the rules governing barter and sale, and not the personal relations of employers and employees; that good wages and working conditions helped and did not hinder trade, even though increased labor costs might be reflected in the cost of products; that labor was not a commodity; that laborers had an inherent right to accept or terminate employment at their own will, either separately or in concert; that to enforce their claims for better wages and working conditions, they had a right to refuse to buy goods from their employer or anybody else; that what they could do to aid their cause, they had a right to persuade others to do;
The contrary viewpoint was that the Act covered all classes of people and all types of combinations, including unions, if their activities even physically interrupted the free flow of trade or tended to create business monopolies, and that a combination of laborers to obtain a raise in wages was itself a prohibited monopoly. Federal courts adopted the latter view and soon applied the law to unions in a number of cases.
Vigorous protests arose from employee groups. The unions urged congressional relief from what they considered to be two separate, but partially overlapping evils — application of the Sherman Act to unions, and issuance of injunctions against strikes, boycotts and other labor union weapons. Numerous bills to curb injunctions were
To amend, supplement and strengthen the Sherman Act against monopolistic business practices, and in response to the complaints of the unions against injunctions and application of the Act to them, Congress in 1914 passed the Clayton Act.
In its treatment of labor unions and their activities the Clayton Act pointed in an opposite direction. Congress in that Act responded to the prolonged complaints
This Court later declined to interpret the Clayton Act as manifesting a congressional purpose wholly to exempt labor unions from the Sherman Act. Duplex Co. v. Deering, 254 U.S. 443; Bedford Cut Stone Co. v. Journeymen Stone Cutters' Assn., 274 U.S. 37. In those cases labor unions had engaged in a secondary boycott; they had boycotted dealers, by whom the union members were not employed, because those dealers insisted on selling goods produced by the employers with whom the unions had an existing controversy over terms and conditions of employment. This Court held that the Clayton Act exempted labor union activities only insofar as those activities were directed against the employees' immediate employers and that controversies over the sale of goods by other dealers did not constitute "labor disputes" within the meaning of the Clayton Act.
Again the unions went to Congress. They protested against this Court's interpretation, repeating the arguments they had made against application of the Sherman Act to them. Congress adopted their viewpoint, at least in large part, and in order to escape the effect of the Duplex and Bedford decisions,
United States v. Hutcheson, 312 U.S. 219, declared that the Sherman, Clayton and Norris-LaGuardia Acts must be jointly considered in arriving at a conclusion as to whether labor union activities run counter to the Anti-trust legislation. Conduct which they permit is not to be declared a violation of federal law. That decision held that the doctrine of the Duplex and Bedford cases was inconsistent with the congressional policy set out in the three "interlacing statutes."
The result of all this is that we have two declared congressional policies which it is our responsibility to try to reconcile. The one seeks to preserve a competitive business economy; the other to preserve the rights of labor to organize to better its conditions through the agency of collective bargaining. We must determine here how far Congress intended activities under one of these policies to neutralize the results envisioned by the other.
On two occasions this Court has held that the Sherman Act was violated by a combination of labor unions and business men to restrain trade.
Section 6 of the Clayton Act declares that the Sherman Act must not be so construed as to forbid the "existence and operation of labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help . . ." But "the purpose of mutual help" can hardly be thought to cover activities for the purpose of "employer-help" in controlling markets and prices. And in an analogous situation where an agricultural association joined with other groups to control the agricultural market, we said:
"The right of these agricultural producers thus to unite in preparing for market and in marketing their products, and to make the contracts which are necessary for that collaboration, cannot be deemed to authorize any combination or conspiracy with other persons in restraint of trade that these producers may see fit to devise." United States v. Borden Co., 308 U.S. 188, 204-205. (Italics supplied.)
We have been pointed to no language in any act of Congress or in its reports or debates, nor have we found any, which indicates that it was ever suggested, considered, or legislatively determined that labor unions should be granted an immunity such as is sought in the present case. It has been argued that this immunity can be inferred
It must be remembered that the exemptions granted the unions were special exceptions to a general legislative plan. The primary objective of all the Anti-trust legislation has been to preserve business competition and to proscribe business monopoly. It would be a surprising thing if Congress, in order to prevent a misapplication of that legislation to labor unions, had bestowed upon
Our holding means that the same labor union activities may or may not be in violation of the Sherman Act, dependent upon whether the union acts alone or in combination with business groups. This, it is argued, brings about a wholly undesirable result — one which leaves labor unions free to engage in conduct which restrains trade. But the desirability of such an exemption of labor unions is a question for the determination of Congress. Apex Hosiery Co. v. Leader, supra. It is true that many labor union activities do substantially interrupt the course of trade and that these activities, lifted out of the prohibitions of the Sherman Act, include substantially all, if not all, of the normal peaceful activities of labor unions. It is also true that the Sherman Act "draws no distinction between the restraints effected by violence and those achieved by peaceful . . . means," Apex Hosiery Co. v. Leader, supra, 513, and that a union's exemption from the Sherman Act is not to be determined by a judicial "judgment regarding the wisdom or unwisdom, the rightness or wrongness, the selfishness or unselfishness of the end of
This brings us to a consideration of the scope of the declaratory judgment and the injunction granted by the district court. We cannot sustain the judgment or the injunction in the form in which they were entered. The judgment and the injunction apply only to the union, its members, and its agents, since they were the only parties against whom relief was asked. The judgment declared that "the combination and conspiracy and the acts done and being done in furtherance thereof all as set forth in the findings of fact herein are unlawful and contrary to the . . . Sherman Anti-Trust Law, as amended and supplemented." There were 374 findings
"Indeed, the injunction is so far contrary to the statute that its mandate might well have been stated in the converse of the terms of the Clayton Act, § 20, viz., as restraining Local 3 and its officers `from terminating any relation of employment, or from ceasing to perform any work or labor . . . or from ceasing to patronize . . . any party to such dispute, or from recommending, advising, or persuading others by peaceful and lawful means so to do.' 29 U.S.C.A., § 52, supra. And the vague scope of the declaratory judgment is even more indefinitely inclusive, in terms reaching all the activities of the defendant set forth in the findings."
Respondents objected to the form of the injunction and specifically requested that it be amended so as to enjoin only those prohibited activities in which the union engaged in combination "with any person, firm or corporation which is a non-labor group . . ." Without such a limitation, the injunction as issued runs directly counter to the Clayton and the Norris-LaGuardia Acts. The district court's refusal so to limit it was error.
The judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the action dismissed is accordingly reversed and the cause is remanded to the district court for modification and clarification
Reversed and remanded.
MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS.
While I should reverse the judgment, I am unable to concur in the court's opinion. I think it conveys an incorrect impression of the genesis and character of the conspiracy charged in the complaint, and misapplies recent decisions of the court.
There is no doubt that the programme adopted by Local No. 3 envisaged the exclusion, from the entire New York City area, of any electrical workers, whether engaged in manufacturing or installing electrical devices and equipment, except members of the Local. The organization from time to time increased the classes of members, so as to add to its original membership of workers engaged in fabricating and installing electrical devices, equipment, and apparatus the additional categories of shop employes engaged in manufacturing electrical equipment and all workers employed in alterations, additions, and repairs involving electrical equipment. It succeeded in unionizing and imposing closed shops employing only members of Local 3, not only on all building contractors, but on all repair contractors and their establishments and all manufacturers of electrical equipment. Membership in the union was closely restricted and the campaign eventuated in a situation where no electrical work could be done by persons other than members of the union, no building construction could be done by other than union men, no matter what their trade, and no manufactured electrical appliance or apparatus could be installed in the New York area without the consent of Local No. 3. That consent was given only if the device, appliance or apparatus was manufactured, or work done on it, by members of the Local. Complicated apparatus which had to be manufactured
It is true that before Local No. 3 obtained this complete control of the industry in its area of operation certain associated building contractors dealt jointly as an association with the union. As respects certain manufacturers which came under the dominance of the union this is not true. Nor is it true of repair businesses. On the contrary, it is the fact that each one of these was individually coerced by the union's power to agree to its terms. It is, therefore, inaccurate to say that the employers used the union to aid and abet them to restrain interstate commerce. Some of the employers, notably the building contractors, did jointly cooperate with the union; other sorts of employers were forced individually to comply with the union's demands, until all of them had succumbed.
There can be no question of the purpose of the union. It was to exclude from use in the City of New York articles of commerce made outside the city and offered for sale to users within the city; it was completely to monopolize the manufacture and sale of all electrical equipment and devices within New York, and to exclude from use in the area every such article manufactured outside the city, whether in a closed union shop or not. The results of this programme are obvious. Interstate commerce between New York City and manufacturers having establishments outside the city was completely broken off, and the monopoly created raised, standardized and fixed the prices of merchandise and apparatus.
As I understand the opinion of the court, such a programme, and such a result, is wholly within the law provided only that employers do not jointly agree to comply with the union's demands. Unless I misread the opinion, the union is at liberty to impose every term and
I point out again, as respects certain employers here concerned, that that is the situation, whereas, with respect to the building construction employers, there was mutual agreement with the union. But the opinion takes no note of the distinction in fact. It seems to me that the law as announced by the court creates an impossible situation such as Congress never contemplated and leaves commerce paralyzed beyond escape.
Until Apex Hosiery Co. v. Leader, 310 U.S. 469, was decided I had thought that a conspiracy by laborers to interrupt the free flow of commerce was a violation of the Sherman Act. That case, however, announced a narrower doctrine. Its teaching is that only activity of labor which harms the commercial competitive system through raising prices, restricting production, or otherwise controlling the market, falls within the proscription of the Sherman Act. In that case it was said:
"Furthermore, successful union activity, as for example consummation of a wage agreement with employers, may have some influence on price competition by eliminating that part of such competition which is based on differences in labor standards. Since, in order to render a labor combination effective it must eliminate the competition from non-union made goods, see American Steel Foundries v. Tri-City Central Trades Council, 257 U.S. 184, 209, an elimination of price competition based on differences in labor standards is the objective of any national labor organization. But this effect on competition has not been considered to be the kind of curtailment of price competition prohibited by the Sherman Act."
In United States v. Hutcheson, 312 U.S. 219, secondary boycotts by labor unions to keep out of the market non-union goods, or goods worked on by other unions, were held immune from liability, civil or criminal, under the Sherman Act. It was there said:
"So long as a union acts in its self-interest and does not combine with non-labor groups, the licit and the illicit under § 20 are not to be distinguished by any judgment regarding the wisdom or unwisdom, the rightness or wrongness, the selfishness or unselfishness of the end of which the particular union activities are the means."
Thus, although a conspiracy between laborers is distinguished from one between them and employers, it is intimated, as I think, that a purpose on the part of a labor group to harm the commercial competitive system, to raise prices, to restrict production, or otherwise control the market, would not render the concerted action illegal, provided only that no employer participated. The reservation made in the Apex case was discarded in the Hutcheson case. This advance in the law was emphasized in United States v. Building Trades Council, 313 U.S. 539, and United States v. Brotherhood of Carpenters, 313 U.S. 539, but the court went even farther, in United States v. Federation of Musicians, 318 U.S. 741, and, as I think, rendered a decision contrary to that now announced. There a motion to dismiss a bill of complaint was granted and this court sustained that action. The complaint charged a conspiracy by the American Federation of Musicians, a nationwide organization, and its officers, to obtain employment for its members by eliminating entirely from interstate commerce all phonograph records
This court's affirmance of the dismissal of this complaint can only mean that every businessman who desires to stay in business must, if a union so demands, enter into an agreement with the union eliminating certain articles from his manufacture, from his sales, or from his use. The decision must necessarily mean that it would not be unlawful to enter into such an agreement with the union, otherwise we should have the anomaly that the union's demand for such an agreement is impeccable but the employer's
As I have pointed out, in two branches of the industry, the manufacturers and employers, one by one, succumbed to union pressure and entered into agreements. Was not such an action, in each instance, a conspiracy? Are more than two parties required to conspire, and did not each of those conspiracies, to some extent, hinder and restrain interstate commerce and affect the market and the competitive price situation? As each agreement was consummated the market was, to that extent, closed and the boycott against out-of-the-city manufactures tightened.
But more. The union did not conduct its campaign in a corner. Albeit the findings are that manufacturers and repairers of electrical appliances violently resisted the unionization of their businesses, they, one by one, surrendered and signed. In doing so, many must have had knowledge of what others were doing or had done. And, as the coverage became complete, each one was enabled to stifle out-of-town competition and to raise prices. In any action against them and the union charging conspiracy, it
The course of decision in this court has now created a situation in which, by concerted action, unions may set up a wall around a municipality of millions of inhabitants against importation of any goods if the union is careful to make separate contracts with each employer, and if union and employers are able to convince the court that, while all employers have such agreements, each acted independently in making them, — this notwithstanding the avowed purpose to exclude goods not made in that city by the members of the union; notwithstanding the fact that the purpose and inevitable result is the stifling of competition in interstate trade and the creation of a monopoly.
The only answer I find in the opinion of the court is that Congress has so provided. I think it has not provided any such thing and that the figmentary difference between employers negotiating jointly with the only union with which they can deal, — which imposes like conditions on all employers — and each employer dealing separately with the same union is unrealistic and unworkable. And the language of § 20 of the Clayton Act makes no such distinction.
This court, as a result of its past decisions, is in the predicament that whatever it decides must entail disastrous results. I can understand that the Circuit Court of Appeals felt constrained by the prior decisions of this court to order the judgment of the District Court reversed and the action dismissed. If the present decision is, as I think, a retrogression from earlier holdings, I welcome it; if it is but a limitation of them I concur in the partial
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY, dissenting.
My disagreement with the Court rests not so much with the legal principles announced as with the application of those principles to the facts of the case.
If the union in this instance had acted alone in its self-interest, resulting in a restraint of interstate trade, the Sherman Act concededly would be inapplicable. But if the union had aided and abetted manufacturers or traders in violating the Act, the union's statutory immunity would disappear. I cannot agree, however, that the circumstances of this case demand the invocation of the latter rule.
The union here has not in any true sense "aided" or "abetted" a primary violation of the Act by the employers. In the words of the union, it has been "the dynamic force which has driven the employer-group to enter into agreements" whereby trade has been affected. The fact that the union has expressed its self-interest with the aid of others rather than solely by its own activities should not be decisive of statutory liability. What is legal if done alone should not become illegal if done with the assistance of others and with the same purpose in mind. Otherwise a premium of unlawfulness is placed on collective bargaining.
Had the employers embarked upon a course of unreasonable trade restraints and had they sought to immunize themselves from the Sherman Act by using the union as a shield for their nefarious practices, we would have quite a different case. The union then could not be said to be acting in its self-interest in combining with the employers to carry out trade restraints primarily for the employers' interests, even though incidental benefits might accrue to the union. Under such conditions the union fairly could
I would therefore affirm the judgment of the court below.
"Sec. 1. Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is hereby declared to be illegal . . .
"Sec. 2. Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor . . ."