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duct of his lawful business and any attempt to compel an individual, firm or corporation to execute an agreement to conduct his or its business through certain agencies or by a particular class of employes is not only unlawful and actionable but is an interference with the exercise of the highest civil right
. . there can be no doubt that any attempt to coerce the Kellogg Switchboard and Supply Company into signing said agreements by threats to order a strike was unlawful. It was violative of the clear legal right of the company and was unjust and oppressive as to those who did not belong to the labor organizations."
This decision, while involving other matters, was based primarily upon the view that a strike for the closed shop is unlawful, and that actions in connection therewith, even though otherwise lawful, might be enjoined. The case of Barnes v. Chicago Typographical Union is directly in line with the view expressed in the case of O'Brien v. People. In the Barnes case, however, there are two dissents as against one dissent in the O'Brien case. The case of Franklin Union No. 4 v. People is also in line with the two cases just referred to, the court there saying: "It will be readily conceded by all that labor has the right to organize as well as capital, and that the members of Franklin Union No. 4 had the same legal right to organize said union as the members of the Chicago Typothetae had to form that association, and that the members of Franklin Union No. 4 had the legal right to quit the employment, either singly or in a body, of the members of said association, with or without cause, if they saw fit, without rendering themselves amenable to the charge of conspiracy and that the courts would not have been authorized to enjoin them from so doing, even though their leaving the employment of the members of the association involved a breach of the contract. While such is the law, it is equally true that upon the members of Franklin Union No. 4, either singly or in a body, leaving the employment of the Chicago Typothetae, the members of the association had the right to employ other persons in their places, and when Franklin Union No. 4, its officers and members, agreed together that by calling a strike and by force, threats, intimidation and picketing they would prevent the members of said association from employing other persons in their places, then they entered into an unlawful undertaking, the carrying into effect of which might be enjoined by a court of equity."
These earlier cases, just referred to, proceed upon the assumption that employes had no specific interest in the undertaking in which they were employed, and that once they decided to leave such employment, they might do so, either singly or as a group, but that they could not leave for the purpose of coercing the employer, and that leaving or threatening to leave for the purpose of obtaining a closed shop was illegal. The court, however, in the case of Kemp v. Division No. 241, Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway Employes of America, took a different view with respect to this matter. In this
5232 T. 425 (1908).
220 Ill. 355. 7255 Ill. 213 (1912)
case, the court was divided, three judges concurring in one opinion, Justice Carter specially concurring, and three judges dissenting. The court through Justice Cook said:
"No contract rights being involved, the Union employes had a right to quit the service of the railway company either singly or in a body, for any reason they chose, or for no reason at all. If the only purpose of the union employes was to quit the service and permanently sever their connection with their employer, appellees would in no wise be damaged and could have no grounds for injunctive relief. The bill discloses, however, that this was not the only purpose of the members of the union. They did not propose absolutely to sever their connection with their employer, but by means of a strike to withdraw temporarily their service, and then by such means as might be proper and permissible seek to induce their employer to accede to their demands. and reinstate them in the service under the conditions they sought to impose. By thus combining it becomes necessary to inquire whether the purpose of the combination was a lawful one Neither can it be said that any actual malice has been disclosed towards the appellees or an intent to commit a wrongful or harmful act against them. No threats are made and no violations threatened. The members of the union have simply said to their employer that they will not longer work with men who are not members of their organization and that they will withdraw from their employment and use such proper means as they may to secure employment under the desired conditions. While this is not a combination on the part of the union employes to maintain their present scale of wages, to secure an advance in the rate of wages or to procure shorter hours of employment, all of which have been universally held to be proper and lawful objects of a strike, it cannot be said that this is not a demand for better conditions and a legitimate object for them to seek to attain by means of a strike."
Justice Carter in a concurring opinion said:
"In my judgment, union workmen, not bound by contract, who inform their employer that they will strike unless he discharge non-union workmen in the same line of employment, should be held to be merely dictating the terms of their own employment; that it is not unlawful for members of a labor union to seek by peaceful means to induce those engaged in the same occupation to become members of such union, and as a means to that end to refuse to allow union laborers to work in the same line of employment in a place where non-union laborers are employed. The proposed purpose of the strike not being unlawful, it necessarily follows that an injunction should not issue as prayed for in the bill."
Three judges vigorously dissented from the views presented by Justice Cook and Justice Carter, urging that the law had been differently established in this state and that "the right of every laborer to dispose of his labor as he may choose for the support of himself and those dependent upon him is as sacred as the right to carry on any lawful business or any other lawful right of a citizen. Governments and courts would be useless if they failed to pro tect the laborer in the enjoyment of such a right. It can only
be lawfully interfered with by one in the exercise of an equal or superior right and thus the ground upon which the right to obtain the place of another in direct and lawful competition is sustained. The right of a labor organization to enforce a closed shop for the mere purpose of strengthening the labor organization in future contests with the employer is not competition and is not of the same character or equal to the right of the individual to dispose of his labor at his own will."
Whatever view may be taken regarding the minority statement, it seems fairly clear from the cases that the minority is right in saying that the Kemp case alters the previous attitude of the supreme court of Illinois. It may therefore be said that the supreme court of Illinois has in the case just referred to departed from its earlier attitude with respect to the lawfulness of a strike for the closed shop.
Other matters with respect to the lawfulness of strikes and the lawfulness of actions in connection therewith have not been so fully passed upon by the supreme court of Illinois. In the recent case of Lyon & Healy v. The Piano, Organ and Musical Instrument Workers' International Union, the injunction involved is said to have been substantially like the decree of injunction involved in Barnes & Company v. Chicago Typographical Union. In spite of this fact, however, two justices dissented without opinion from a judgment sustaining a punishment for contempt in violating the injunction, and two other judges specially concurring took a view squarely that the injunction was too sweeping in its provisions "particularly the provision enjoining the appellants or those associating with them from interfering or attempting to hinder the appellee from carrying on its business in the usual and ordinary way. It is difficult to conceive of a strike without some damage occurring to the parties in the dispute. Even if the strikers commit no physical violence, the striking employes always plan and intend to deprive the employers of their labor and in so doing they necessarily unsettle the work of the employers and in most instances in so doing thereby cause damage. Furthermore, we are disposed to think that the restraining order is too broad in its phraseology in reference to picketing appellees' place of business.
A strike for the closed shop is regarded as lawful in some states of the union and as unlawful in others. Although the matter of injunctions in labor cases is now pretty fully covered by federal statutes to be referred to in this article, the United States supreme court in recent cases, arising before these statutes were enacted has taken a view against the lawfulness of the strike for the closed shop, Justice Pitney taking for the United States supreme court very much the same view which he had earlier taken as a chancellor in New Jersey."
8 289 Ill. 176 (1919).
Hitchman Coal & Coke Co. v. Mitchell, 245 U. S. 229; Eagle Glass & Mfg. Co. v. Rowe, 245 U. S. 275 (1917).
There seems to have been a tendency, as is indicated by the attitude of the Illinois supreme court, toward regarding the strike for the closed shop as lawful. The decisions at the present time are, however, opposed to the lawfulness of a sympathetic strike, and there is a general rule now well recognized that it is unlawful to cause the breach of existing contracts, such rule applying to an effort to bring about a breach of contract between employer and employes, as well as to the breaches of other contracts.
If a strike be regarded as unlawful, the problem then presents itself as to what actions may be enjoined in connection with such a strike. The quitting of work is not enjoinable, even though the persons quitting work are under contract. This matter is perhaps as well established as any other principle of American law. However, if a strike is regarded as unlawful, courts in this country have enjoined such actions in connection with it as the calling of the strike by labor leaders (that is, the use of the union organization for the purpose of conducting a strike); the payment of strike benefits by a union; the threat to strike for a purpose regarded as unlawful; peaceful persuasion, and peaceful picketing. However, all of these actions are not regarded as proper even when a strike itself may be considered lawful. If a strike is considered lawful, it is certainly possible in connection with it to use all of the machinery of a union organization, and to pay strike benefits. Peaceful persuasion also appears to be lawful, and in some states peaceful picketing is regarded as lawful, although this is doubtful in Illinois at the present time. In Massachusetts it has been held unlawful to fine members for refusing to strike, even though the strike itself be regarded as lawful. The secondary boycott, either in connection with a strike or otherwise, is generally regarded as unlawful.
It will be noted from this discussion that there are two points at issue: (1) when will a strike or threat to strike be regarded as unlawful, and the use of the machinery of organized labor be substantially forbidden in carrying out the purposes of such a strike, and (2) if a strike be regarded as lawful, what instrumentalities for the conduct of that strike may lawfully be used. As to both of these matters the law both in Illinois and in the other states is unsettled, although to a large extent the matter has been settled by federal legislation, which is quoted in full in this discussion. This legislation has largely adopted the attitude of the labor organizations.
Arguments for and against the restriction of injunctions in. labor cases. Those opposed to the restriction of injunctions in labor cases urge that to enact such a restriction will place labor organizations in a preferred position with respect to the law, and that not only is such a preferred position unjustifiable, but that there is no need for such a position in order to protect the legiti
mate interests of labor. The Kemp case in 255 Ill., is cited as one in which the court went far to sustain the legality of acts of organized labor.
Those who urge the need for a restriction of the use of injunctions in labor cases allege that labor is not asking for a special privilege or a preferred position, but for relief from a situation which operates unequally with respect to labor. Their position is based largely upon the fact that the law with respect to labor controversies is in an unsettled condition, as the law always is in any rapidly growing field of the law. Their arguments may be substantially summarized as follows:
(1) The purpose of an injunction is primarily that of maintaining existing rights, but they assert that the injunction in labor cases normally settles the matter in controversy as the result of an informal hearing, or as the result of action without notice to the laborers. In their view, an injunction is issued by the judge of a lower court (the judge often selected by the applicant for the injunction) and the injunction when issued operates to defeat the laborers in their controversy, and has this effect before the injunction can be dissolved as the result of an appeal to a higher court. Their point is that, inasmuch as the laborers must bring pressure to bear upon their employer promptly or fail, an injunction issued by the lower court, if it is improper, will actually defeat the laborers before the injunction can be removed. In the Lyon & Healy case, which has been referred to above, the majority of the court did not say that the injunction was improper, although two specially concurring judges said this, and two judges dissented. Whether the dissenting judges were of the opinion that the injunction was improper, is, of course, a matter of conjecture. However, if it were true that the four judges were of opinion that the injunction issued by the lower court was improper, the labor leaders urge that the effect of the improper injunction would have been accomplished as against the laborers before it could have been dissolved.
(2) It is also urged by those favoring a restriction of the use of injunctions in labor cases that, even if the injunction be proper on its face, a judge may punish acts which he regards as violating the injunction, but which on appeal may not be so regarded. That is, it is urged that even though the injunction were fair upon its face, the judge of the trial court may actually coerce people into doing things which they had a right to do, even though these things are not properly within the scope of the matters prohibited by the injunction. The case of Illinois Malleable Iron Company v. Michalek1o is cited on this point.
(3) On the basis of the points made above, those advocating the restriction of the use of the injunction in labor controversies urge that the present situation places a really final decision in the inferior court acting often in an ex parte proceeding. They also
10 279 Ill. 221 (1917).