MR. JUSTICE REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
These are criminal cases in which conviction of various defendants has been obtained in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California, Southern Division, and affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 144 F.2d 546. They were charged with conspiracy to violate the Sherman Act, § 1.
Five petitions for certiorari were presented to this Court by different defendants either singly or jointly with others. It is sufficient for the purposes of this review to say that they raised the question of the application of § 1 of the Sherman Act to conspiracies between employers and employees to restrain commerce and, except the petitions in the employer group, the application of § 6 of the
Since these cases were taken the important question of the application of the Sherman Act to a conspiracy between labor union and business groups has been decided by us. We held that such a conspiracy to restrain trade violated the Sherman Act. Allen Bradley Co. v. Local Union No. 3, 325 U.S. 797. This holding causes us to approve the ruling of the trial and appellate courts on the first question presented by the certiorari but it left unresolved the question as to the application of § 6 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act, the point to which this decision is directed.
In the next, the 72d Congress, the bill, H.R. 5315, which was to become the Norris-LaGuardia Act, was introduced. Section 2 succinctly states the public policy that it was designed to further — a definition of and limitation upon the jurisdiction and authority of courts of the United States in labor disputes.
We need not determine whether § 6 should be called a rule of evidence or one that changes the substantive law of agency. We hold that its purpose and effect was to relieve organizations, whether of labor or capital,
The legislative history makes the intended meaning of the word "authorization," we think, almost equally clear. The rule of liability for acts of an agent within the scope of his authority, based on the Danbury Hatters Case, was urged as an argument against the language of § 6.
We hold, therefore, that "authorization" as used in § 6 means something different from corporate criminal responsibility for the acts of officers and agents in the course or scope of employment.
In this prosecution the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and all the local unions who were convicted requested an instruction or instructions that embodied the above interpretation of § 6.
The suggestion is made that the alert and powerful unions and corporations gain the greatest degree of immunity under our interpretation of § 6. That is not the case. Section 6 draws no distinction as to liability for unauthorized acts between the large and the small, between national unions and local unions, between powerful unions and weak unions, between associations or organizations and their members. And we draw no such distinctions.
There is no implication in what we have said that an association or organization in circumstances covered by § 6 must give explicit authority to its officers or agents to violate in a labor controversy the Sherman Act or any other law or to give antecedent approval to any act that its officers may do. Certainly an association or organization cannot escape responsibility by standing orders disavowing authority on the part of its officers to make any agreements in violation of the Sherman Act and disclaiming union responsibility for such agreements. Facile arrangements do not create immunity from the act, whether they are made by employee or by employer groups. The conditions
Our only point is this: Congress in § 6 has specified the standards by which the liability of employee and employer groups is to be determined. No matter how clear the evidence, they are entitled to have the jury instructed in accordance with the standards which Congress has prescribed. To repeat, guilt is determined by the jury, not the court. The problem is not materially different from one where the evidence against an accused charged with a crime is well-nigh conclusive and the court fails to give the reasonable-doubt instruction. It could not be said that the failure was harmless error.
It is suggested that since "conscious participation" was required for conviction by the instructions given, error as to the individual defendants cannot be found under any theory of the rule of § 6. But we think that failure to instruct the jury on the imputation of guilt from the acts of others as limited in labor disputes by § 6 affects the individuals as well as the associations. The section covers organizations and their members alike. Individuals, without association authority, may be guilty of such a conspiracy as this under the Sherman Act, but under § 6 they will not be guilty merely because they are members or officers of a guilty association. Nor are individuals guilty
Certiorari was granted to two employer groups, Nos. 8 and 10, each containing an incorporated trade association and its officers and members, both individual and corporate. Both groups combatted the indictment by demurrer on the ground that, as the restrictive agreement was directed at the maintenance of proper working conditions, it did not state a crime under the Sherman Act. The demurrer was overruled by the trial court. Our decision in Allen Bradley Company requires us to uphold this conclusion. Thereafter pleas of nolo contendere were entered by each defendant in the employer petitioner groups.
Each of the employer petitioners, if they had stood trial, as we have indicated hereinbefore, would have been entitled to the same instruction under § 6 as we have held the union group should have received. And though the failure so to charge was not excepted to, we would not be precluded from entertaining the objection.
This present decision furnishes a guide for the application of § 6 to liability for acts of agents in labor disputes. Ordinarily a plea of nolo contendere leaves open for review only the sufficiency of an indictment.
The judgments in each case are reversed and the causes remanded to the District Court.
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
The issue in this case is clear and simple. It is this. When officers make an arrangement on behalf of their organization, whether a corporation or a union, while acting in the regular course of business and within their general authority as such officers, is the organization liable for what these officers did if the court should subsequently find that such an arrangement is prohibited by the Sherman Law? The issue is clear and it is susceptible of a clear answer. Neither the issue nor the answer should be obscured. Either the organization is subject to the liability that the law in other respects imposes upon organizations for the acts of their agents, or the Norris-LaGuardia Act freed unions and corporations from such liability. The lower courts must apply the law as laid down by this Court and we owe them clarity of pronouncement. They cannot very well guide juries, or even themselves in equity suits, if told that the principles of the law of agency do not apply to unions and corporations under the Sherman Law, but that perhaps they "can" apply. What the Court means to decide ought to be brought out of the twilight of ambiguity. It does not advance the administration of justice to impart new doubts to an old statute. And the Sherman Law is not merely old. It embodies, as this Court has often indicated, a vital policy.
By explicit language Congress forbade "corporations and associations" no less than individuals to engage in combinations and conspiracies in restraint of interstate trade. Section 8 of the Sherman Law. And it has long been settled that trade unions are "associations" under the Sherman Law. United Mine Workers v. Coronado Coal Co., 259 U.S. 344. Before the Coronado decision and since, repeated efforts were made to have Congress take trade unions from under the Sherman Law. Regardless
The construction given by the Court to § 6 is based on considerations which move in a world of unreality. The argument is quite unmindful of the way in which trade unions function — their organization, the authority of their international officers, the inevitable influence of the international office upon the affiliated locals. In short, such a construction is unmindful of the anatomy and physiology of trade union life. It is especially the powerful
It took some time for the law to catch up with reality and to hold that when men aggregated to form an entity, the entity as such acquires power and may therefore be held to responsibility in exerting its power. But it can act only through individuals. Its power is exerted, and its responsibility accrues, through the conduct of individual men entrusted with the power of the entity to achieve its purposes. This conclusion, supported alike by morality and by reason, the early law escaped through empty subtleties that seem fanciful to the modern reader. Arguments not unlike them underlie a reading of § 6 whereby the Sherman Law will be sterilized, certainly so far as national labor unions are concerned. The Court's opinion, to be sure, does not say in words that a national union is not liable under the Sherman Law for acts by its chief officers undertaken in the course of duty and for the furtherance of the union's purposes. But the conditions formulated by the Court, which must now be met before a union may be held to liability, are practically unrealizable, whether in the case of a big or a small union, a local or an international. Escape from responsibility can be easily contrived. It will be difficult to charge a union with culpability unless a convention of its membership, held perhaps every two years or even four, should knowingly authorize or approve a violation of the Sherman Law, or give carte blanche to the officers of the union by approving
The case before us illustrates how an association like the Brotherhood pursues its objectives. The Locals took no action until the General Office of the Brotherhood offered its approval; the President of the Brotherhood himself took an active part in the contract negotiations; a representative of the Brotherhood was present at the time that the contracts were made; no union agreement was forthcoming until the General Office approved the contracts in the routine way for such approval — collective agreements are not ordinarily subject to approval at the quadrennial convention of the Brotherhood; a circular issued by the General Office requested adherence to the contracts by the members of the local. Surely here was active "participation" by the Brotherhood in what has been found to be an outlawed combination, in the normal way in which such a union exerts its authority and "participates" in agreements. On such evidence did the jury find the Brotherhood guilty.
The Court finds that there was error in not giving a requested charge which was in the language of the statute. A trial court does not discharge its duty merely by quoting a statute relevant to the conduct of the trial. The issue before an appellate court is not whether the trial judge might have given a request of abstract correctness, or even charged differently, but whether the judge's instructions were accurate and ample. It might have been wise
The trial court repeatedly warned the jury that to find guilt they must be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt. It instructed the jury that the guilt or innocence of labor unions should be determined in the same manner as that of corporations. On the question of authorization, it charged that "The act of an agent done for or on behalf of a corporation and within the scope of his authority, or an act which an agent has assumed to do for a corporation while performing duties actually delegated to him, is deemed to be the act of the corporation." That statement correctly expresses the standard of guilt of corporations and unions under all other criminal statutes. If it is not the standard for violations of the Sherman Law it is only because the Court now reads in § 6 an exception to the whole of the criminal law. Presumably trial courts will conscientiously apply the intendment of the opinion of the Court. That means that they will have to charge juries that the rules of agency do not apply in Sherman Law cases — there must be more to hold the union for the acts of its officers. And "more" will not be found in view of
Aside from the actualities of trade union practice, the terms of § 6, reads in the light of its legislative history and its purpose, repel the result reached by the Court once "we free our minds from the notion that criminal statutes must be construed by some artificial . . . rule." United States v. Union Supply Co., 215 U.S. 50, 55. To assure immunity to powerful unions collaborating with employers' associations in disregard of the Sherman Law, was not the purpose of § 6, and the provision should not be so read. This minor provision of the Norris-LaGuardia Act was directed against decisions by some of the federal courts in litigation involving industrial controversies. The abuse was misapplication of the law of agency so that labor unions were held responsible for the conduct of individuals in whom was lodged no authority to wield the power of the union. By undue extension of the doctrine of conspiracy, whereby the act of each conspirator is chargeable to all, unions were on occasion held responsible for isolated acts of individuals, believed in some instances to have been agents provocateurs who held a spurious membership in the union during a strike. Congress merely aimed to curb such an abusive misapplication of the principle of agency. It did not mean to change the whole legal basis of collective responsibility. By talking about "actual authorization," Congress merely meant to emphasize that persons for whose acts a corporation or a union is to be held responsible should really be wielding authority for such corporation or union.
The Congressional purpose behind § 6, then, is clear.
Nor are the debilitating implications for Sherman Law enforcement of the construction now placed on § 6 limited to their bearing on union activities. Congress did not lay down one rule of liability for corporations and another for unions. On the contrary, it subjected both groups of organizations to the same basis and measure of liability. Both can act only through responsible agents and both are responsible as organizations only through the acts of such agents. See § 13 (b) of the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
The teaching of the present case can hardly fail. To come under the Court's indulgent rule of immunity from liability for the acts of its officers, unions will not rest on a lack of affirmative authorization. To make assurance doubly sure they will, doubtless in good conscience, have standing orders disavowing authority on the part of their officers to make any agreements which may be found to be in violation of the Sherman Law. So also, corporations "interested in a labor dispute," as, for instance, by combining to resist what they deem unreasonable labor demands, will, by the formality of a resolution at a directors' meeting, disavow and disapprove any arrangements made by their officers which run afoul of the Sherman Law. This may achieve immunity even though the officers are moving within the orbit of their normal authority and are acting solely in the interests of their corporation.
Words are symbols of meaning. In construing § 6, as in construing other enactments of Congress, meaning must be extracted from words as they are used in relation to their setting, with due regard to the evil which the legislation was designed to cure as well as to the mischievous and startling consequences of one construction as against another. "Doubt, if there can be any, is not likely to survive a consideration of the mischiefs certain to be engendered. . . . The mind rebels against the notion
Practically speaking, the interpretation given by the Court to § 6 serves to immunize unions, especially the more alert and powerful, as well as corporations involved in labor disputes, from Sherman Law liability. To insist that such is not the result intended by the Court is to deny the practical consequences of the Court's ruling. For those entrusted with the enforcement of the Sherman Law there may be found in the opinion words of promise to the ear, but the decision breaks the promise to the hope.
In our view the judgments below should be affirmed.
"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: . . . Every person who shall make any contract or engage in any combination or conspiracy declared by sections 1-7 of this title to be illegal shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine not exceeding $5,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the court."
"SEC. 6. No officer or member of any association or organization, and no association or organization participating or interested in a labor dispute, shall be held responsible or liable in any court of the United States for the unlawful acts of individual officers, members, or agents, except upon clear proof of actual participation in, or actual authorization of, such acts, or of ratification of such acts after actual knowledge thereof."
These cases were argued in the Supreme Court of the United States first on March 8, 1945. On June 18, 1945, they were restored to the docket and assigned for reargument, counsel being requested to discuss (1) the scope of § 6 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act in relation to prosecutions under the Antitrust Act; (2) the scope of § 6 in relationship to § 13 (b); (3) the scope of the words "association or organization" appearing in § 6, in that section's relationship to § 13 (b); and (4) consideration of the Court's oral charge and written charges requested and refused involving § 6, in the light of objections and exceptions by each and all of the defendants and the state of the evidence on that issue as to each of them. Journal, Sup. Ct., U.S., October Term 1944, pp. 284-5. The cases were reargued on April 29-30, 1946, and again restored to the docket on June 10, 1946, for a third argument.
In the hearings on the proposed substitute, the language now incorporated into § 6 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act was criticized as changing the rules of agency, so as to relieve organizations of responsibility for acts of their agents in labor disputes. It was defended as intended to apply the law of agency to labor unions. Hearings, Subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 70th Cong., 2d Sess., on S. 1482, Part 5, p. 759, et seq.
"But section 6 effects a revolution in the substantive law of agency. By that section no officer or member of any organization, participating in a labor dispute, and this applies equally to employers, is to be held liable in any court of the United States for the unlawful act of agents acting in such dispute, unless there be clear proof of actual participation, authorization, or ratification of the agents' acts after actual knowledge. The general law of agency is thus repealed or restricted to a labor dispute, and it applies equally to employers and employees. It applies to men who by collusion enter into agreements which may harmfully affect the public interests, and which in some instances might be violations of the antitrust act, although they may be the result, or grow out of, or involve terms of a labor dispute."
See also pp. 33 and 39.
"SEC. 13. . . .
"(b) A person or association shall be held to be a person participating or interested in a labor dispute if relief is sought against him or it, and if he or it is engaged in the same industry, trade, craft, or occupation in which such dispute occurs, or has a direct or indirect interest therein, or is a member, officer, or agent of any association composed in whole or in part of employers or employees engaged in such industry, trade, craft, or occupation."
"When that came before the Supreme Court of the United States Justice Holmes — I do not remember the exact language, but he had in mind that it might not be necessary to show that they knew or ought to have known or that they ought to have been warranted in their belief — that under the rule of agency as prevailing in all other activities, including bankers' associations, to which you refer, and all other associations, it is the common accepted proposition, as fundamental as any I know in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence, that a principal may be liable for the acts of his agent, even though he never knew or heard of them and actually forbade them, provided he was acting within the general scope of his authority, in furtherance of the purpose of the association. That is the law laid down by the Supreme Court of the United States, and that is the law that I am afraid is curtailed by this provision in this section 6."
Excerpts from Lawlor v. Loewe, 235 U.S. at 534-35, will explain the reference: "We agree with the Circuit Court of Appeals that a combination and conspiracy forbidden by the statute were proved, and that the question is narrowed to the responsibility of the defendants for what was done by the sanction and procurement of the societies above named.
"The court in substance instructed the jury that if these members paid their dues and continued to delegate authority to their officers unlawfully to interfere with the plaintiffs' interstate commerce in such circumstances that they knew or ought to have known, and such officers were warranted in the belief that they were acting in the matters within their delegated authority, then such members were jointly liable, and no others. It seems to us that this instruction sufficiently guarded the defendants' rights, and that the defendants got all that they were entitled to ask in not being held chargeable with knowledge as matter of law. . . . If the words of the documents on their face and without explanation did not authorize what was done, the evidence of what was done publicly and habitually showed their meaning and how they were interpreted. The jury could not but find that by the usage of the unions the acts complained of were authorized, and authorized without regard to their interference with commerce among the States."
These cases now being passed upon have not involved the liability of an employer, whether a member or not of an association or organization of employers, for the acts, in a labor dispute, of his or its own officers. We express no opinion upon that.
"You are instructed that no labor union or organization can be found guilty in this case for an unlawful act or acts, if any, of individual officers, members or agents, unless you find upon clear proof from the evidence that such labor organization actually participated in, or actually authorized such unlawful act, if any, or ratified such an act, if any, after actual knowledge thereof."
"If you find that there did exist a combination and conspiracy such as is charged in the indictment, and that any defendant corporation participated therein, then I instruct you that such act of participation is deemed to be also the act of the individual director, officer or agent of such defendant corporation who authorized, ordered or did such act in whole or in part.
"Likewise, the list of defendants includes a number of labor union organizations and several members thereof. It has been stipulated in this case that these labor unions are associations. Like corporations, associations are separate entities within the meaning of the Sherman Act, and may be found guilty of violations of that act, separately and apart from the guilt or innocence of their members.
"You are to determine the guilt or innocence of the labor unions which are defendants in this case in the same manner as you determine that of the corporations, that is, by an examination of the acts of their agents.
"In this case, several individuals are named as defendants, together with a number of corporations. While these defendants have been jointly indicted and charged with the offenses contained in the indictment, each defendant is entitled to an independent consideration by you of the evidence as it relates to his conscious participation in the alleged unlawful acts, and it is your duty to determine the guilt or innocence of each individual separately."
"Now, that is the law of agency, and we want to apply that. We want to apply that for this reason, that if it is unjust to hold all members of the union responsible for the acts of its officers and their members merely because of such membership, similarly it is unjust to hold the officers responsible during the strike merely because they pass on questions of this kind, that an attempt is here made to recognize the rules of law of agency in labor cases." See Hearings before Subcommittee of Senate Committee on the Judiciary, S. 1482, 70th Cong., 2d Sess., p. 763.
The Senate Committee reported this: "There has been a distinct conflict of opinion in the courts as to the degree of proof required. Mere ex parte affidavits establishing a certain amount of lawless conduct in the prosecution of a strike have been held in some instances to establish a `presumption' that the entire union and its officers were engaged in an unlawful conspiracy; and, on the other hand, other courts have declined thus to substitute inference for proof, rejecting such a doctrine in language such as the following used in a New York case: `Is it the law that a presumption of guilt attaches to a labor union association?' Various examples of these different rulings are quoted in The Labor Injunction, by Frankfurter and Greene, pp. 74-75.
"It is appropriate and necessary to define by legislation the proper rule of evidence to be followed in this matter in federal courts. That is the only object of section 6." S. Rep. No. 163, 72d Cong., 1st Sess. (1932) pp. 20-21.