Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER V.

DECISIONS OF COURTS AND LAWS RELATING TO STRIKES, COM

BINATIONS, CONSPIRACIES, BOYCOTTS, ETC.

DECISIONS OF COURTS.

In bringing together the following decisions of courts in cases arising out of strikes and lockouts, no attempt has been made to show all the decisions of this character that have been rendered, but only those which upon the whole could be considered the most important and interesting, and in general only decisions of the highest courts of the States and Territories have been used, though exceptions to this rule have been made in specially interesting cases. The more important decisions rendered by the Federal courts have also been given.

Want of space has rendered it necessary to give the decisions in brief rather than in extenso, showing only the main and important features of the decisions, using largely the syllabi or digests of the decisions as found in the law reporters, though frequently quoting from the language used in the opinions delivered by the courts, where such a course has seemed necessary to convey a clear understanding of the facts in a case and the points of and reasons for the decision therein.

No attempt has been made herein to discuss the merits of the decisions or their application, nor to arrange them in order according to the principles that they announce. To do so thoroughly and in a clear and lucid manner would require more space than is available, and would require that the quotations from the decisions should be split up and scattered under many heads, as most of them touch on a number of labor topics, involving, as they frequently do, the questions of conspiracy, boycotts, intimidation, etc., in one and the same decision. It has been thought best therefore to arrange them by States, alphabetically, and under the heads of the States, commencing with the earliest decisions, to place them in chronological order. In order to assist those who may wish to look directly for decisions bearing on certain topics such as conspiracy, boycotting, blacklisting, etc., these decisions have been thoroughly indexed under such heads in the general index to this volume, and by referring to the same it will be easy to turn at once to all the decisions bearing upon any particular subject.

COLORADO.

A curious case, intimately connected with the subject of this report, was heard in the courts of this State. A complaint was filed in the district court of Arapahoe County by the Silver State Council, No. 1, American Order of Steam Engineers, and the prayer contained therein reads as follows:

That an injunction issue out of this honorable court enjoining, restraining, and prohibiting the above-named defendants, each and all of them, and their said organizations, their servants, agents, and employees, both as individuals and organizations, in any manner interfering with or trying by threats, boycotts, strikes, or intimidations to break up and destroy, or cause the resignation of any member hr threats, boycotts, strikes, or intimidations, of Silver State Council, No. 1, American Order of Steam Engineers, plaintiff herein, or by strikes, borcotts, or any other threats to compel it or its members to throw up its certificate, articles, or charter of incorporation or organization, or to in any manner interfere with the rights and privileges of Silver State Council, No. 1, of the American Order of Steam Engineers, plaintiff herein, or its right to exist and enjoy its rights, privileges, and freedoin under the laws under which it was created; for costs herein expended, and will ever pray.

The complaint further stated that the plaintiff was a nonstriking labor organization; that the defendants were members of certain labor organizations which were formed for the purpose “ of enforcing the rights of their several component parts by ordering a strike against all other organizations, employers, or individuals against whom it or they may have a grievance, and can not enforce their rights upon which they base their demands," and whose objects were to compel ail stationary steam engineers to join their order “and to resort to force by boycotting anyone who employs stationary steam engineers not members of said organization.”

Said complaint also alleged that in March, 1892, the plaintiff organization was admitted into and became a member of the Trades and Labor Assembly, one of the defendant organizations, and that in April, 1893, it was expelled from that body because its charter, constitution, and by-laws declared that it was a nonstriking organization, and that its expulsion was in pursuance of a conspiracy among certain of the defendants who had since its expulsion been constantly endeavoring to destroy and exterminate it. Some instances were given in which it was attempted to compel engineers belonging to the plaintiff organization to join the other unions, or to procure their discharge. from employment by threatening to “boycott” and “levy strikes against” their employers.

The court, after a hearing, refused to issue the injunction, and the case was appealed to the court of appeals of the State. Its decision,

sustaining the action of the lower court, was rendered November 11, 1895, and the following language was used in its opinion:

The plaintiff is a corporation, and to entitle it to relief, it must appear that its corporate rights are threatened with some injury of a kind which may be made the subject of an action, and for which courts have the power to afford redress. The complaint is that the defendants have banded together and conspired to "exterminate" the plaintiff, and that they propose to accomplish their purpose by compelling its members to leave it. Of course, when its members have all withdrawn, it will be extinct. We need not discuss the character of the means to be employed for its disintegration. Whether they are legal or illegal, they can not be made the subject of an action in favor of the plaintiff. It has no property in its members, and, in losing them, it sustains no damage which the law recognizes as damage. It can not compel its members to remain with it, and if they are violently driven out of it-if they are forced to relinquish their membership against their will-the grievance is theirs, and not the plaintiff's. Or if, for the purpose of forcing their withdrawal, others, by means of “boycotts" or "strikes,” are made to suffer, the latter must fight their own battles. The law does not make the plaintiff their champion. The disorganization and resulting extinction of the plaintiff would, doubtless, be a calamity, but it is one which the law is powerless to avert. We have cited no authorities because we can find none which are of any use. If a case bearing the remotest analogy to this was ever the subject of adjudication, our most diligent effort has failed to unearth any record of it. The judgment will be affirmed.

CONNECTICUT. An important trial occurred in the county court at Hartford, Conn., and the only record which has been found concerning it is contained in the following newspaper extract:

Thompsonville Carpet Manufactory v. W. Taylor et al.--This was a suit against the defendants for conspiring to raise the price of wages and hindering other weavers from going into the employ of plaintiff, and a strike in July, 1833. The great point in the case was, whether peaceably conspiring or arguing with the workmen to refuse to work for less than a named sum constituted a ground for civil action on the part of the employer. On this point the court charged the jury in the negative. The case was much labored, and consumed a week in trying it. Verdict for the defendants. [Connecticut Courant, quoted in Niles' Register, September 27, 183+.]

An interesting case involving the charge of conspiracy, based on an attempt to “boycott” or “blacklist” an employee by employers of labor, was decided in this State and is to be found under the title of State v. Opdyke et al., on page 176 of a work entitled, Wright on Criminal Conspiracy and American Cases, by Carson, published in 1887. This case has not been found in any of the reports, and the court and year in which the decision was rendered is not reported by Mr. Carson in the above-entitled work, although he speaks of it as "another recent Connecticut case.”

The decision, as reported by Mr. Carson, reads as follows:

The complainant has been employed for two years in the freight yard of the New Haven and North Hampton Railroad Company. He voluntarily left his employment, in a proper manner, but without the approval of Opdyke, one of the defendants, who was the superintendent of the company. He obtained employment in the same line of business in the freight yard of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, and after working for a few days, was ordered to stop work by Wallace, another of the defendants, and assistant superintendent of the last-named company, not because he was unsatisfactory as a workman, but solely because there was a mutual agreement between the defendants that a man not approved by one should not be employed by their respective companies, so far as they had control. It appeared that Opdyke bad communicated to Wallace that the complainant had left his former employment in what he considered “a mean way." The defendants were before the courts on a charge of conspiracy. The court held that the defendants had a common design to hinder the complainant from doing his work and earning his pay; not for good reasons connected with his immediate employment, but for reasons originating from excessive courtesy” between them, and which would not have been put into operation except for said mutual understanding, which was to all intents and purposes a “boycott” upon the individual who was the subject of the conspiracy. The court said: “It is well-settled law that any conspiracy to injure a man in his person or character is highly criminal at common law, and although recent events have developed conspiracies in new forms for new purposes bearing upon the varied business interests of this and other States, the court is clearly of the opinion that such conspiracies designed to directly prevent the carrying on of any lawful business or indirectly to injure the business of any dealer in or producer of goods, wares, and merchandise, by preventing those who would be customers for such goods, wares, and merchandise from purchasing the same, by intimidation, persuasion, or any means, other than by lawful competition, is also criminal at common law. The court is equally satisfied that any conspiracy to prevent, obstruct, or hinder any man from putting his labor on the market when, where, and for such compensation as he may agree for, if the same be lawful, is also highly criminal at common law and more disastrous in effect than any other form of conspiracy except that to take life. By law every man's labor, skill, and industry are his own property, and with a great majority of men, they are his all and precious to him next to his life. They stand in place of property, real and personal. His manhood, as well as the prosperity and comfort of him and his, are dependent upon his right to exercise these powers, gifts, and qualities with the same freedom with which more fortunate men bestow their goods and estates, and any prevention, restriction or hindrance in his lawful exercise of such freedom, by the common design and united action of any organized society, order or club, or by any organized combination of two or more persons, whether they are employees seeking self-protection, or employers intending to be courteous to each other, is in violation of rights established by the constitution and laws of the State. With this view of the law in the case,

« AnteriorContinuar »