274 U.S. 37 (1927), 412, Bedford Cut Stone Company v. Journeymen

Docket Nº:No. 412
Citation:274 U.S. 37, 47 S.Ct. 522, 71 L.Ed. 916
Party Name:Bedford Cut Stone Company v. Journeymen
Case Date:April 11, 1927
Court:United States Supreme Court

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274 U.S. 37 (1927)

47 S.Ct. 522, 71 L.Ed. 916

Bedford Cut Stone Company



No. 412

United States Supreme Court

April 11, 1927

Stone Cutters' Association of North America

Argued January 18, 1927




1. A combination or conspiracy of union stone-cutters to restrain the interstate commerce of certain building stone producers by declaring their stone "unfair" and forbidding members of the union to work upon it in building construction in other states, for which it was extensively bought and used, and thereby coercing or inducing local employers to refrain from purchasing it, is a violation of the Anti-Trust Act. Pp. 45, 54.

2. The fact that the ultimate object was to unionize the cutters and carvers of stone at the quarries of the producers did not make the combination lawful. P. 47.

3. A private suit to enjoin a combination violative of the Sherman Act will lie under § 16 of the Clayton Act where there is a dangerous probability of injury to the plaintiff, though no actual injury has been suffered. P. 54.

9 F.2d 40 reversed.

Certiorari (273 U.S. 677) to a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed the district court in dismissing a bill brought by owners of limestone quarries in Indiana to enjoin a combination alleged to violate the Anti-Trust Act. The defendants were a general union

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of stone-cutters, and some of its constituent locals and their officers.

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SUTHERLAND, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioners, Bedford Cut Stone Company and 23 others, all, with one or two exceptions, Indiana corporations, are in the business of quarrying or fabricating, or both quarrying and fabricating, Indiana limestone in what is called the Bedford-Bloomington district in the State of Indiana. Their combined investment is about $6,000,000, and their annual aggregate sales amount to about $15,000,000, more than 75 percent of which are made in interstate commerce to customers outside the State of Indiana. The Journeymen Stone Cutters' Association of North America, sometimes called and hereinafter referred as the "General Union," is an association of mechanics engaged in the stone-cutting trade. It has a constitution, bylaws, and officers, and an income derived from assessments upon its members. Its principal headquarters are in Indiana, and it has a membership of about 5,000 persons, divided into over 150 local unions, located in various states and in Canada, each of such local unions having its own bylaws, officers, and income derived from like assessments. By virtue of his membership, each member of these local unions is a member of the General Union. The members of the General Union and allied locals throughout the United States are stone cutters, carvers, curb cutters, curb setters, bridge cutters, planermen, lathemen, and carborundum moulding machine operators engaged in the cutting, patching, and fabrication of all natural and artificial stones, and the General Union claims jurisdiction over all of them.

This suit was brought by petitioners against the General Union and some of its officers, and a number of affiliated local unions and some of their officers, to enjoin

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them from combining and conspiring together to commit, and from committing, various acts in restraint of interstate commerce in violation of the federal Anti-Trust Act, c. 647, 26 Stat. 209, and to petitioners' great and irreparable damage. The Federal District Court for the District of Indiana, after a hearing, refused a preliminary injunction, and subsequently, on final hearing, entered a decree dismissing the bill for want of equity. On appeal, this decree was affirmed by the court of appeals upon the authority of an earlier opinion in the same case. 9 F.2d 40.

The facts, so far as necessary to be stated, follow. Limestone produced by petitioners is quarried and fabricated largely for building construction purposes. The stone is first taken in rough blocks from the earth, and generally then cut into appropriate sizes, and sometimes planed. Part of this product is shipped directly to buildings, where it is fitted, trimmed, and set in place, the remainder being sold in the rough to contractors to be fabricated. The stone sold in interstate commerce comes into competition with other kinds of natural and artificial stone. The principal producers of artificial stone are unionized, and are located outside of Indiana. Before 1921, petitioners carried on their work in Indiana under written agreement with the General Union, but, since that time, they have operated under agreements with unaffiliated unions, with the effect of closing their shops and quarries against the members of the General Union and its locals. Prior to the filing of the bill of complaint, the General Union issued a notice to all its locals and members directing its members not to work on stone "that has been started -- planed, turned, cut, or semi-finished -- by men working in

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opposition to our organization," and setting forth that a convention of the union had determined that

members were to rigidly enforce the rule to keep off all work started by men working in opposition to our organization, with the exception of the work of Shea-Donnelly, which firm holds an injunction against our association.

Stone produced by petitioners by labor eligible to membership in respondents' unions was declared "unfair;" and the president of the General Union announced that the rule against handling such stone was to be promptly enforced in every part of the country. Most of the stone workers employed, outside the State of Indiana, on the buildings where petitioners' product is used are members of the General Union, and in most of the industrial centers, building construction is on a closed shop union basis.

The rule requiring members to refrain from working on "unfair" stone was persistently adhered to and effectively enforced against petitioners' product in a large number of cities and in many states. The evidence shows many instances of interference with the use of petitioners' stone by interstate customers, and expressions of apprehension on the part of such customers of labor troubles if they purchased the stone. The president of the General Union himself testified, in effect, that generally the men were living up to the order, and, if it were shown to him that they did not do so in any place, he would see that they did. Members found working on petitioners' product were ordered to stop and threatened with a revocation of their cards if they continued, and the order of the General Union seems to have been enforced even when it might be against the desire [47 S.Ct. 524] of the local union. The transcript contains the record of a hearing upon these matters before the Colorado Industrial Commission, from which it appears that, in obedience to the order of the General Union, its members theretofore employed in Denver upon local building stopped work because petitioners' product was being used. The local contractor was notified merely that the men stopped work because the stone being used was

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"unfair." The contractor personally had no trouble of any kind with the union, and no other reason for the strike than that stated above existed. B. F. James, a member and an acting officer of the General Union, testified that the local union, in conducting its strike against a local builder, had no choice in the matter; that they had their orders from the General Union, with which they complied; that there was no difference or feeling whatever between the union and the local employer; that the fight was with the Bedford stone producers, and they were trying to affect them through the local employer.

Q. And you people have no choice in the matter, you are just complying with the orders from the International [General Union]?

A. We have no choice whatever.

Q. Probably, if it was left up to you people here, knowing this employer as you do, why your organization here, local organization, would not strike on this man?

A. I don't believe we would; no.

Q. But you have got to follow the orders of your international organization?

A. Yes, sir.

The evidence makes plain that neither the General Union nor the locals had any grievance against any of the buildings -- local purchasers of the stone -- or any other local grievance, and that the strikes were ordered and conducted for the sole purpose of preventing the use, and, consequently, the sale and shipment in interstate commerce, of petitioners' product in order, by threatening the loss or serious curtailment of their interstate market, to force petitioners to the alternative of coming to undesired terms with the members of these unions. In 1924, the president of the General Union said:

The natural stone industry needs all the natural advantages it can possibly get, as there are so many kinds

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of substitutes to take the natural stone's place in the building material market that it behooves the natural stone employers to do their utmost to see that no handicap is in its way, and it is a well known fact that, when any material is known to have labor grievances, it retards that material in the building market, as the building public do not want the stigma on their building that it was built by "unfair labor," and they are also afraid of stoppage of work and unnecessary disputes while their building is in course of construction, and no one can blame them for that.

In the Colorado inquiry, the witness James further testified that the strike order did not make any allowance for stone theretofore ordered. "We were trying to affect the Bedford people through the local man."


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