JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
In Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U.S. 238 (1962), the Court held that § 301 (a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 61 Stat. 156, 29 U. S. C. § 185 (a), does not authorize a damages action against individual union officers and members when their union is liable for violating a nostrike clause in a collective-bargaining agreement. We expressly reserved the question whether an employer might maintain a suit for damages against "individual defendants acting not in behalf of the union but in their personal and nonunion capacity" where their "unauthorized, individual action" violated the no-strike provision of the collective-bargaining agreement. 370 U. S., at 249, n. 7. We granted certiorari to decide this important question of federal labor law. 449 U.S. 898 (1980).
Petitioners are three companies engaged in the transportation by truck of motor vehicles. All three are parties to a collective-bargaining agreement with the Teamsters Union that covers operations at their respective facilities in Flint,
On June 8, 1976, respondents commenced a wildcat strike, because they believed that "the union was not properly representing them in . . . negotiations for amendments to the collective bargaining agreement." 614 F.2d 1110, 1111 (CA6 1980). Soon thereafter, petitioners brought this § 301 (a) action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeking injunctive relief and "damages against the [employees], in their individual capacity, for all losses arising out of the unlawful work stoppage and for attorneys fees." App. 21. Petitioners alleged that the strike was neither authorized nor approved by the union and, therefore, sought no damages from the union. See 614 F. 2d, at 1115; App. 18, 20-21. After a hearing, the District Court found that "the issue which had caused the work stoppage was not arbitrable" because it was "an internal dispute between factions in the Local," App. to Pet. for Cert. 15a-16a, and accordingly denied preliminary injunctive relief, citing Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U.S. 235 (1970).
Nine months later, respondents moved to dissolve the preliminary injunction and to dismiss the complaint for damages. Relying on this Court's intervening decision in Buffalo Forge Co. v. Steelworkers, 428 U.S. 397 (1976),
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the District Court's dissolution of the injunction, holding that an injunction may be granted even where the issue which precipitated the strike was nonarbitrable provided an arbitrable issue, other than the simple legality of the strike itself, caused the continuation of the strike with
The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's dismissal of petitioners' claim for damages from the individual union members. Relying principally on the legislative history of § 301, the Court of Appeals concluded that Congress had not intended through § 301 to "create a cause of action for damages against individual union members for breach of a no-strike agreement." 614 F. 2d, at 1116. We agree.
Since Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448 (1957), it has been settled that § 301 (a)
Of course, "Lincoln Mills did not envision any freewheeling inquiry into what the federal courts might find to be the most desirable rule, irrespective of congressional pronouncements." Howard Johnson Co. v. Hotel & Restaurant Employees, 417 U.S. 249, 255 (1974). Rather, it is clear that in fashioning federal law under § 301 (a) substantial deference should be paid to revealed congressional intention. See Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U. S., at 248-249.
In Atkinson, the Court relied on the intent of Congress in passing § 301 (b) to hold that individual union members may not be sued for damages where the union has breached the no-strike provision of its collective-bargaining agreement. Section 301 (b) states in pertinent part that "[a]ny money judgment against a labor organization . . . shall be enforceable only against the organization as an entity and against its assets, and shall not be enforceable against any individual member or his assets." Thus, in Atkinson, we noted that "in discharging the duty Congress imposed on us to formulate the federal law to govern § 301 (a) suits, we are strongly guided by and do not give a niggardly reading to § 301 (b)." Ibid. Accordingly, we consulted and relied on the legislative history of § 301 (b) which made it "clear that th[e] third clause [of § 301 (b)] was a deeply felt congressional reaction against the Danbury Hatters case . . . and an expression
Section 301 (b) by its terms prohibits a money judgment entered against a union from being enforced against individual union members. See Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., supra. It is a mistake to suppose that Congress thereby suggested by negative implication that employees should be held liable where their union is not liable for the strike. See Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers, 452 F.2d 49, 52 (CA7 1971). Although lengthy and complex, the legislative history of § 301 clearly reveals Congress' intent to shield individual employees from liability for damages arising from their breach of the no-strike clause of a collective-bargaining agreement, whether or not the union participated in or authorized the illegality. Indeed. Congress intended this result even though it might leave the employer unable
The legislative history of § 301 begins with a review of congressional efforts in the year prior to adoption of the Labor Management Relations Act. Section 10 of the Case bill, H. R. 4908, 79th Cong., 2d Sess. (1946), passed by both Houses of Congress, but vetoed by the President in 1946, was "the direct antecedent of § 301." Charles Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S. 502, 509 (1962). Since § 10 "contained provisions substantially the same . . . as the provisions of § 301," ibid., its legislative history is highly relevant in ascertaining congressional intent with respect to § 301, see id., at 511-512.
The purpose of § 10 was "to establish a mutual responsibility when the collective-bargaining process has resulted in a contract." 92 Cong. Rec. 838 (1946) (remarks of Rep. Case). As introduced in the House, § 10 provided for collective-bargaining agreements to be enforceable "against each of the parties thereto."
Thus the Senator stopped short of proposing that individual
The House's subsequent consideration of the Senate's version reflected its clear understanding of the Senate's limitation on employers' remedies. Representative Case explained the Senate amendment on the floor of the House:
The House then passed the Senate version. In doing so, the House, like the Senate, clearly intended to protect employees from the sanction of a suit for damages for a strike in breach of the collective-bargaining agreement, whether or not the union participated in or authorized the strike. It is true that the President vetoed this bill and that his veto was sustained. Nevertheless, the substantial similarity between the pertinent language of the Case bill as passed by Congress and of § 301 as it reads today makes the legislative history of the Case bill vitally significant to a full understanding of the policy behind § 301 (b).
Six months after the veto, Congress began work on the legislation which became § 301.
Significantly, however, the Senate rejected the House's imposition in § 12 of damages liability against individuals for unlawful concerted activity, and a Conference Committee adopted the Senate version.
The Senate passed this version of the bill, foreclosing individual damages liability in both § 301 and § 303 lawsuits.
At conference, the Conference Committee squarely rejected § 12 of the House bill in favor of § 303 of the Senate bill, thereby refusing to create a damages action against individual employees for the conduct prohibited in that section. In addition, the Committee deleted the provision in the House bill which had removed protection under § 7 of the National Labor Relations Act for concerted activity in breach of a collective-bargaining agreement for the stated reason that the provision was unnecessary in light of recent decisions of the National Labor Relations Board. Those provisions had held that "strikes in violation of collective bargaining contracts were not concerted activities protected by the act and [the NLRB had] refused to reinstate employees discharged for engaging in such activities." H. R. Conf. Rep. No. 510, 80th
Thus, while § 301 (b) explicitly addresses only union-authorized violations of a collective-bargaining agreement, the "penumbra" of § 301 (b), Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U. S., at 457, as informed by its legislative history, establishes that Congress meant to exclude individual strikers from damages liability, whether or not they were authorized by their union to strike.
JUSTICE POWELL, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
The Court's opinion makes clear that Congress, in enacting the Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act, did not intend to hold individuals liable in damages for wildcat strikes. I therefore join the Court's judgment and most of its opinion. I do not, however, share the Court's view that there remains to management a "significant array of other remedies," ante, at 416, n. 18, with which to deter or obtain compensation for illegal strikes. In fact, the "remedies" said to be available are largely chimerical.
Collective-bargaining agreements typically contain a promise by the union not to strike during the agreement's term. Unions agree to these no-strike clauses in exchange for the employer's promise to arbitrate disputes arising in contract
Despite the mutual benefits of the no-strike/grievance-arbitration pact, strikes in breach of contract occur with disturbing frequency. In some cases, these strikes are encouraged or even instigated by union leaders.
Whatever the cause, strikes in breach of contract frequently injure all concerned: the employer,
When the Taft-Hartley amendments were enacted in 1947, the Nation had experienced a wave of labor unrest.
It is increasingly clear that the 1947 Taft-Hartley amendments did not provide employers with an effective remedy for wildcat strikes. The Court today holds, properly I think, that Congress intended to foreclose a damages remedy against individual wildcat strikers. The Court states, however, that
Injunctions in labor disputes are generally prohibited by the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
Nor is discharge a realistic remedy in most cases. Because a strike in breach of contract is unprotected conduct under the National Labor Relations Act, see NLRB v. Sands Mfg. Co., 306 U.S. 332 (1939), workers who strike illegally may be terminated. It therefore has been argued that discharge
The union itself normally will not discipline its striking members. Most unions have the legal authority to take such action, see Summers, Legal Limitations on Union Discipline, 64 Harv. L. Rev. 1049, 1065 (1951), but the power seldom is used. In a wildcat strike, worker recalcitrance sometimes is directed at the incumbent union leadership as much as at company management. In these circumstances, the Union's attempt to discipline is unlikely to be effective and may be counterproductive. Moreover, under this Court's decision in Carbon Fuel Co. v. Mine Workers, 444 U.S. 212 (1979), a parent union normally is not obligated to take affirmative steps to prevent or terminate a wildcat strike. Absent such an obligation, there is little incentive for the union to intervene, even where intervention would be useful.
Finally, a suit for damages against the union entity rarely is feasible.
The Court plainly is unrealistic, therefore, when it suggests that employers have at their disposal a battery of alternative remedies for illegal strikes. Ante, at 416-417, n. 18. The result of the absence of remedies is a lawless vacuum. Despite a no-strike clause, a plant may be closed with adverse consequences that often are far-reaching. The strike injures the employer, other companies and their employees, and consumers in general. Frequently, the strike is harmful even to the majority of strikers, who feel obligated to honor the picket line of minority wildcatters.
It is, of course, the province of Congress to set the Nation's labor policy. I do not suggest that authorizing a damages remedy against individual wildcat strikers would be desirable. I do believe, however, that the absence of an effective
CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, with whom JUSTICE REHNQUIST joins, dissenting.
The Court today holds that individual employees who, without the approval of their union, breach a covenant not to strike in the collective-bargaining agreement between their union and their employers may not be held liable for resulting damages to the employers. At stake is the fundamental principle that individuals are accountable when they breach a voluntarily executed contract.
The underlying facts in this case are not in dispute. The respondents are members of Local 332 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which acts as their exclusive bargaining agent with petitioners, their employers. The union and the petitioners have entered into a collective-bargaining agreement that provides in part:
Despite this covenant, the respondents embarked on what is commonly called a "wildcat" strike; it is admitted that the local union "did not aid, assist or authorize the work stoppage or a tie-up of any equipment." Id., at 25.
Section 301 (a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U. S. C. § 185 (a), makes collective-bargaining agreements enforceable in federal courts against both unions and employers.
On the basis of literally centuries of the common law of contracts, one would have thought that the traditional notions of accountability for one's voluntary actions would govern. Instead, the Court holds that individual workers, acting without union approval, are a special, privileged class who may with impunity violate an agreement voluntarily reached in arm's-length bargaining. This result finds no support in the statute, it significantly undermines the usefulness and
In reaching this unusual conclusion, the Court mistakenly relies on the last sentence in § 301 (b) of the Labor Management Relations Act, which states:
On its face, this clause does no more than insulate union members from personal liability for union breaches of the contract; Congress intended this provision to give union members a protection analogous to that afforded stockholders in corporations against personal liability for corporate acts. S. Rep. No. 105, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., 16 (1947) ("members of the union would secure all the advantages of limited liability without incorporation"). It is acknowledged that Congress added this provision to the Act to prevent a recurrence of the Danbury Hatters situation, see Lawlor v. Loewe, 235 U.S. 522 (1915); Loewe v. Lawlor, 208 U.S. 274 (1908), where the participants in a strike were held personally liable for the union's actions on the theory that the union, as an unincorporated association, could not be sued. Ante, at 406-407, and n. 6; Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., supra, at 248; 93 Cong. Rec. 5014 (1947) (remarks of Sen. Ball). But the language of § 301 (b) says nothing about holding union members harmless when they, without the approval of their union, individually breach the contract.
The special exemption in § 301 (b) affords individual union members protection against individual liability for collective action; this simultaneously encourages group action through the union—which is what unions are all about—and prevents potentially large damages awards against individual workers. But when Congress changed the law regarding individual liability
Curiously, the Court, ante, at 416, n. 18, and the respondents suggest that this anomaly will promote more harmonious relations between employers and striking workers by preventing a long and drawn-out fight in the courts. This argument is wholly specious, and it is contradicted by the views Congress expressed when it adopted § 301. Congress fully recognized that agreements, if breachable with impunity, "do not tend to stabilize industrial relations. The execution of an agreement does not by itself promote industrial peace." S. Rep. No. 105, 80th Cong., 1st Sess., 16 (1947). If workers can "have their cake and eat it too" by holding the employer liable for its breaches but receiving immunity for their own, employers will be less likely to enter into mutually satisfactory collective-bargaining agreements in the first place.
The respondents believe—and the Court accepts, ante, at 416, n. 18—that the threat of discharge by the employer or discipline by the union is sufficient to ensure that collective-bargaining agreements generally will be followed by the union and its members.
Accountability of each individual for individual conduct lies at the core of all law—indeed, of all organized societies. The trend to eliminate or modify sovereign immunity is not an unrelated development; we have moved away from "The King can do no wrong." This principle of individual accountability is fundamental if the structure of an organized society is not to be eroded to anarchy and impotence, and it remains essential in civil as well as criminal justice. Today the Court penalizes the employer for the "wildcat" breaches of the employees and rewards those errant employees.
It seems to me that, by now, the American labor movement has matured sufficiently so that neither unions nor their members need this kind of artificial, excessively paternalistic protection for admittedly illegal acts—a protection contrary to fundamental, centuries-old concepts of individual accountability. The stability of unions and the harmony of industrial relations will be enhanced, not impaired, by applying to union members the same standards of accountability that govern all other individuals in society.
This Court ought not to make two classes of contract breakers under collective-bargaining agreements, one liable and one immune. I submit that if union members understand that where they breach a contract without the approval of their union, individual liability will follow, we will very likely see fewer unauthorized strikes, for union authority will be enhanced and greater industrial harmony will likely result.
"(a) Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter, or between any such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.
"(b) Any labor organization which represents employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this chapter and any employer whose activities affect commerce as defined in this chapter shall be bound by the acts of its agents. Any such labor organization may sue or be sued as an entity and in behalf of the employees whom it represents in the courts of the United States. Any money judgment against a labor organization in a district court of the United States shall be enforceable only against the organization as an entity and against its assets, and shall not be enforceable against any individual member or his assets."
"All collective-bargaining contracts shall be mutually and equally binding and enforceable either at law or in equity against each of the parties thereto, any other law to the contrary notwithstanding. In the event of a breach of any such contract or of any agreement contained in such contract by either party thereto, then, in addition to any other remedy or remedies existing either in law or equity, a suit for damages for such breach or for injunctive relief in equity may be maintained by the other party or parties in any United States district court having jurisdiction of the parties. If the defendant against whom action is sought to be commenced and maintained is a labor organization, such action may be filed in the United States district court of any district wherein any officer of such labor organization resides or may be found." H. R. 5262, 79th Cong., 2d Sess. (1946).
Representative Case explained that the "parties" against whom a "suit for damages" would lie were limited to the employer and to "the recognized bargaining agent rather than an individual." 92 Cong. Rec. 765 (1946).
"(a) Suits for violation of a contract concluded as the result of collective bargaining between an employer and a labor organization if such contract affects commerce as defined in this act may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties.
"(b) Any labor organization whose activities affect commerce as defined in this act shall be bound by the acts of its duly authorized agents acting within the scope of their authority from the said labor organization and may sue or be sued as an entity and in behalf of the employees whom it represents in the courts of the United States: Provided, That any money judgment against such labor organization shall be enforceable only against the organization as an entity and against its assets, and shall not be enforceable against any individual member or his assets.
"(d) Any employee who participates in a strike or other stoppage of work in violation of an existing collective-bargaining agreement, if such strike or stoppage is not ratified or approved by the labor organization party to such agreement and having exclusive bargaining rights for such employee, shall lose his status as an employee of the employer party to such agreement for the purposes of sections 8, 9, and 10 of the National Labor Relations Act: Provided, That such loss of status for such employee shall cease if and when he is reemployed by such employer." 92 Cong. Rec. 5705 (1946).
"Mr. Speaker, there is substituted for that [the provision] which has to do with the responsibility of the individual who goes out on a wildcat strike in violation of a contract and in violation of the wishes of his organization. All we say is that if he breaches his contract as an individual in that manner, his employer does not have to take him back unless he wants to. What is the matter with that[?]" Id., at 5932.
Representative Case's testimony before the House Committee is also instructive:
"Mr. LANDIS. I agree that you can deny the members the rights of the Wagner Act, but say there is one coal mine—we had an instance in Indiana where one coal mine went out on a wildcat strike, and the United Mineworkers organization did not like it, and they tried to get the men to go back to work, and they would not go back to work, and still refused to go back to work for several days.
"Who would you sue in that case?
"Mr. CASE. Of course, I would think the United Mine Workers, as an organization, would have a pretty good defense to any suit for damages against them, if they ordered the men back to work.
"It would seem to me, if you had a local that went out on strike, and they were parties to a contract, the local would be liable for damages." Id., at 126.
"(a) Any action for or proceeding involving a violation of an agreement between an employer and a labor organization or other representative of employees may be brought by either party in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without regard to the amount in controversy, if such agreement affects commerce, or the court otherwise has jurisdiction of the cause." H. R. 3020, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. (as passed by the House) (1947).
"(b) Any labor organization whose activities affect commerce shall be bound by the acts of its agents, and may sue or be sued as an entity and in behalf of the employees whom it represents in the courts of the United States. Any money judgment against a labor organization in a district court of the United States shall be enforceable only against the organization as an entity and against its assets, and shall not be enforceable against any individual member or his assets." H. R. 3020, supra.
"Sec. 301 (a) Suits for violation of contracts concluded as the result of collective bargaining between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this Act may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties.
"(b) Any labor organization which represents employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in this Act may sue or be sued in its common name in the courts of the United States: Provided, That any money judgment against such labor organization shall be enforceable only against the organization as an entity and against its assets, and shall not be enforceable against any individual member or his assets." H. R. 3020, supra.
It is by no means certain that an individual damages remedy will meaningfully increase deterrence of wildcat strikes above that resulting from use of other available remedies. It is just as likely that damages actions against individuals would exacerbate industrial strife: "an action for damages prosecuted during or after a labor dispute would only tend to aggravate industrial strife and delay an early resolution of the difficulties between employer and union." Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U. S., at 248 (footnote omitted); see Gateway Coal Co. v. Mine Workers, 414 U.S. 368, 381, n. 14 (1974).
The significant array of other remedies available to employers to achieve adherence to collective-bargaining agreements casts further doubt on petitioners' proposition. First, an employer may seek damages against the union where responsibility may be traced to the union for the contract breach. See 29 U. S. C. § 185 (b); Carbon Fuel Co. v. Mine Workers, 444 U.S. 212, 216-218 (1979); Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U. S., at 247-249. Second, an employer may discharge, or otherwise discipline, an employee who unlawfully walks off the job. See id., at 246; NLRB v. Rockaway News Supply Co., 345 U.S. 71, 80 (1953); Lakeshore Motor Freight Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, 483 F.Supp. 1150, 1154, n. 2 (WD Pa. 1980) (wildcat strikers discharged, and those allowed to return were rehired as new employees). Third, the union itself may discipline its members. See Carbon Fuel Co. v. Mine Workers, supra, at 220; Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers, 452 F.2d 49, 54 (CA7 1971); see 92 Cong. Rec. 5706 (1946) (Sen. Capehart) (debate on Case bill). Finally, an employer may seek injunctive relief against unions for breach of a no-strike provision in a collective-bargaining agreement where the underlying dispute giving rise to the breach is subject to binding arbitration. See Buffalo Forge Co. v. Steelworkers, 428 U. S., at 407; Gateway Coal Co. v. Mine Workers, supra, at 380-387; Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, supra. Whether a Boys Markets-Buffalo Forge injunction could have issued against individual union members engaged in the wildcat strike at issue here is not before us. It may be that an injunction would not issue against a participating or authorizing union in circumstances otherwise the same: in the instant case the District Judge found that the strike commenced over a nonarbitrable labor dispute, and that ruling was not disturbed by the Court of Appeals.
"No court of the United States shall have jurisdiction to issue any restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction in any case involving or growing out of any labor dispute . . . ."
Finally, part of the price of settling the strike often is a promise that the company will waive its claim for damages. Ransdell v. International Assn. of Machinists, 97 LRRM 2738 (ED Wis. 1978); Gould, On Labor Injunctions, Unions, and the Judges: The Boys Market Case, 1970 S. Ct. Rev. 215, 231.
"Where the union is weak, . . . the union faced with further depletion of its ranks may have no real choice except to condone the member's disobedience."