260 N.Y. 315, J. H. & S. Theatres, Inc. v. Fay

Citation:260 N.Y. 315
Party Name:J. H. & S. Theatres, Inc. v. Fay
Case Date:November 22, 1932
Court:New York Court of Appeals

Page 315

260 N.Y. 315

J. H. & S. THEATRES, INC., Respondent,



New York Court of Appeal

November 22, 1932

Argued October 26, 1930.

Page 316


William S. O'Connell for appellants. The alleged contract entered into between the plaintiff and the Empire State Theatrical Stage Employees Union, Inc., was no bar to peaceful picketing of the plaintiff's premises by members of the defendant union. (Stillwell Theatre, Inc., v. Kaplan, 259 N.Y. 405; Exchange Bakery & Restaurant, Inc., v. Rifkin, 245 N.Y. 260; Nann v. Raimist, 255 N.Y. 307; Reardon, Inc., v. Caton, 189 A.D. 501.)

Joseph A. Teperson for respondent. The defendants lost their rights when they spread false statements which tended to injure the plaintiff's business. (Exchange Bakery & Restaurant, Inc., v. Rifkin, 245 N.Y. 260; Wilner v. Bless, 243 N.Y. 544.)


The plaintiff has leased and is conducting three theatres at which a member of the defendant union

Page 317

had previously been employed. To do the same work the plaintiff now employs a member of a rival union and has entered into a contract for the term of one year to employ 'only theatrical stage employees who are members in good standing' of the rival union and supplied by it. The defendant union demands that the plaintiff employ one of its members at each theatre and pay him the union rate of wages. By picketing and other activities the defendant union attempted to induce the public not to patronize the three theatres conducted by the plaintiff until its demands are complied with.

The defendant union is a lawful combination. It may, by lawful means, endeavor to induce the plaintiff to employ its members upon terms and conditions satisfactory to it. Its demand that the plaintiff employ one of its members at each theatre, though at the present time a single employee is performing the same work at all three theatres, may be unreasonable. It is attempting to destroy the plaintiff's business in order to induce, or, perhaps we should say, compel the plaintiff to comply with its demand and refuse to go on with the contract made with the rival union.

'Demands of workmen may sometimes be fair and sometimes unfair. Combinations give the workmen a power of compulsion which may work harm to their employer, the public and even to themselves. Where the workmen do not combine they may be compelled by force of economic circumstances to accept unfair terms of employment. Such conflicting considerations of economic policy are not primarily the concern of the courts.' (Interborough Rapid Transit Co. v. Lavin, 247 N.Y. 65, 74.)'It is not within the province of the courts to restrain conduct which is within the allowable area of economic conflict.' (Stillwell Theatre, Inc., v. Kaplan, 259 N.Y. 405, 412.) A combination of workmen formed for the purpose of obtaining employment for its members upon terms and conditions satisfactory to them may use lawful means to achieve its purpose. The courts have not been constituted

Page 318

arbiters of the fairness, justice or wisdom of the terms demanded.

Combinations of workmen, like other combinations, be they weak or strong, must, nevertheless, restrict the exercise of their powers of...

To continue reading