315 U.S. 521 (1942), 131, United States v. Local 807, International Brotherhood of

Docket Nº:No. 131
Citation:315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004
Party Name:United States v. Local 807, International Brotherhood of
Case Date:March 02, 1942
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 521

315 U.S. 521 (1942)

62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004

United States

v.

Local 807, International Brotherhood of

No. 131

United States Supreme Court

March 2, 1942

Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen & Helpers of America

Argued January 7, 1942

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Section 2 of the Federal Anti-Racketeering Act provides, inter alia, that "any person" who, in connection with or in relation to any act affecting interstate commerce or any article or commodity moving in such commerce, obtains or attempts to obtain by use or threat of force, violence or coercion, the payment of money, "not including, however, the payment of wages by a bona fide employer to a bona fide employee," shall be guilty of a felony.

Held:

1. That the legislative history of the Act shows that it was intended to suppress terroristic activities of professional gangsters, and not to interfere with traditional labor union activities. P. 530.

2. The exception is not limited to those who had acquired the status of employees prior to the time when they obtained, or attempted or conspired to obtain, the payment. P. 531.

3. The exception is applicable to an agreement by members of a city union of truck drivers, who, for the purpose of obtaining employment at union wages in connection with "over the road" trucks entering the city, agree to tender their services in good faith to each truck owner and to do the work if he accepts their offer, but agree further that, should he refuse it, they will nevertheless, for the protection of their union interests, require him to pay them the wages, even by resort to threats and violence. P. 534.

The test of the applicability of the exception in such case is whether the objective of the conspirators was to obtain "the payment of wages by a bona fide employer to a bona fide employee," and not

Page 522

whether the intent of the truck owner in making payment was to pay for services, rather than for protection. P. 532.

4. Labor union activities such as those disclosed by the record in this case are not beyond the reach of federal legislative control, and the use of violence such as that here disclosed is subject to the ordinary criminal law. P. 536.

118 F.2d 684 reversed.

Cross-petitions for certiorari, 314 U.S. 592, to review a judgment reversing convictions of a labor union, and individual members of it, on charges of conspiracy to violate § 2(a) and other sections of the Federal Anti-Racketeering Act of June 8, 1934.

Page 524

BYRNES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BYRNES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case comes here on cross-petitions for certiorari to review a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals reversing the conviction of Local 807 and 26 individuals on charges of conspiracy to violate § 2(a), (b) and (c) of the Anti-Racketeering Act of June 18, 1934.1 The

Page 525

government asks that the judgments of conviction be reinstated. In their cross-petition, the defendants seek dismissal of the indictment. We do not regard this as a correct disposition of the case. Since the correctness of the views concerning the meaning of the statute on which the trial court submitted the case to the jury goes to the root of the convictions and their reversal by the Circuit Court of Appeals, we shall confine our consideration of these cases to that issue. Consequently, we are concerned only with whether the defendants were tried in a manner consistent with the proper meaning and scope of the pertinent provisions of § 2 of the Act, which provide:

Any person who, in connection with or in relation to any act in any way or in any degree affecting trade or commerce or any article or commodity moving or about to move in trade or commerce --

(a) Obtains or attempts to obtain, by the use of or attempt to use or threat to use force, violence, or coercion, the payment of money or other valuable considerations, or the purchase or rental of property or protective services, not including, however, the payment of wages by a bona fide employer to a bona fide employee; or

(b) Obtains the property of another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right; or

(c) Commits or threatens to commit an act of physical violence or physical injury to a person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to violate sections (a) or (b);

The proof at the trial showed that the defendant Local 807 includes in its membership nearly all the motor truck drivers and helpers in the City of New York, and that, during the period covered by the indictment, defendants Campbell and Furey held office in the Local as delegates in charge of the west side of Manhattan, and the other defendants

Page 526

were members. Large quantities of the merchandise which goes into the city from neighboring states is transported in "over the road" trucks which are usually manned by drivers and helpers who reside in the localities from which the shipments are made and who are consequently not members of Local 807. Prior to the events covered by this indictment, it appears to have been customary for these out-of-state drivers to make deliveries to the warehouses of consignees in New York, and then to pick up [62 S.Ct. 644] other merchandise from New York shippers for delivery on the return trip to consignees in the surrounding states.

There was sufficient evidence to warrant a finding that the defendants conspired to use and did use violence and threats to obtain from the owners of these "over the road" trucks $9.42 for each large truck and $8.41 for each small truck entering the city. These amounts were the regular union rates for a day's work of driving and unloading. There was proof that, in some cases, the out-of-state driver was compelled to drive the truck to a point close to the city limits and there to turn it over to one or more of the defendants. These defendants would then drive the truck to its destination, do the unloading, pick up the merchandise for the return trip, and surrender the truck to the out-of-state driver at the point where they had taken it over. In other cases, according to the testimony, the money was demanded and obtained, but the owners or drivers rejected the offers of the defendants to do or help with the driving or unloading. And, in several cases, the jury could have found that the defendants either failed to offer to work, or refused to work for the money when asked to do so. Eventually many of the owners signed contracts with Local 807 under whose terms the defendants were to do the driving and unloading within the city and to receive regular union rates for the work. No serious question is raised by the evidence

Page 527

as to the ability of the defendants to perform the labor involved in these operations.

The first count of the indictment was based upon § 2(a) of the Act, and charged a conspiracy "to obtain the payment of money . . . [from the owners] by the use of, attempt to use and threat to use, force, violence and coercion." The second count accused the defendants of conspiring to obtain the property of the owners "with their consent induced by wrongful use of force and of fear," in violation of § 2(b). The third and fourth counts alleged a conspiracy to violate § 2(c) in that the defendants agreed "to commit and threatened to commit acts of physical violence and of physical injury to the persons and property" of their victims in furtherance of the general scheme to violate §§ 2(a) and 2(b). Local 807 and all of the individual defendants were convicted on the first count; the Local and 17 individuals on the second, and the Local and 11 individuals on the third and fourth.

The question in the case concerns that portion of § 2(a) which excepts from punishment any person who

obtains or attempts to obtain, by the use of or attempt to use or threat to use force, violence, or coercion . . . the payment of wages by a bona fide employer to a bona fide employee.2

The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed because it believed that the trial court had failed to instruct the jury properly with respect to this exception.

To ascertain the limits of the exception is a difficult undertaking. Always assuming the presence of violence and threats, as we must in the face of this record, three interpretations of varying restrictive force require consideration: (1) The exception applies only to a defendant

Page 528

who has enjoyed the status of a bona fide employee prior to the time at which he obtains or attempts to obtain the payment of money by the owner. (2) Assuming that this is incorrect, and that the exception may affect a defendant who has not been a bona fide employee prior to the time in question, it does not apply if the owner's intention in making the payment is to buy "protection," and not to buy service, even though the defendant may intend to perform the service or may actually perform it. We understand this to be the position adopted by the government in its brief and argument in this Court. (3) Assuming that both (1) and (2) are incorrect, the exception is not applicable to a defendant who obtains the payment of money if the owner rejects his genuine offer of service. We understand this to be the theory of the dissenting judge below.

[62 S.Ct. 645] Confronted with these various interpretations, we turn for guidance to the legislative history of the statute. Pursuant to a Senate Resolution of May 8, 1933,3 a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce which became known as the Copeland Committee undertook an investigation of "rackets" and "racketeering" in the United States. After conducting hearings in several large cities, the committee introduced 13 bills, of which S. 2248 was one.4 As introduced, as reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee,5 and as passed without debate by the Senate,6 S. 2248 embodied very general prohibitions

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63 practice notes
  • 708 F.2d 209 (6th Cir. 1983), 80-5052, United States v. Russo
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • 20 Mayo 1983
    ...employee." 6 In United States v. Local 807 of International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers of America, 315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004 (1942), the Supreme Court was required to interpret this exception. That case involved a local union, its office......
  • 941 F.Supp. 910 (N.D.Cal. 1996), CR-93-0438, United States v. Woodruff
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Northern District of California
    • 22 Agosto 1996
    ...Rec 11848; see also Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 261, 112 S.Ct. 1881, 1885-86, 119 L.Ed.2d 57 (1992); United States v. Local 807, 315 U.S. 521, 535, 62 S.Ct. 642, 647-48, 86 L.Ed. 1004 (1942). 1 The multistate character of these types of criminal activities was thought to justify t......
  • 334 F.2d 678 (3rd Cir. 1964), 14614, United States v. Provenzano
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • 30 Junio 1964
    ...was passed after this Court had construed § 2 of the Federal Anti-Racketeering Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 979, in United States v. Local 807, 315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004. Subsection (a) of § 2 barred, with respect to interstate commerce, exaction of valuable considerations by force......
  • United States v. Kirsch, 033115 NYWDC, 07-CR-304S (6)
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Western District of New York
    • 31 Marzo 2015
    ...and Helpers of Am. and the Third Circuit's decision in United States v. Kemble. 410 U.S. 396, 93 S.Ct. 1007, 35 L.Ed.2d 379 (1973); 315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004 (1942); 198 F.2d 889 (3d Cir. Local 807 involved the operation of delivery trucks to and from New York City. 315 U.S.......
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59 cases
  • 708 F.2d 209 (6th Cir. 1983), 80-5052, United States v. Russo
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
    • 20 Mayo 1983
    ...employee." 6 In United States v. Local 807 of International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers of America, 315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004 (1942), the Supreme Court was required to interpret this exception. That case involved a local union, its office......
  • 941 F.Supp. 910 (N.D.Cal. 1996), CR-93-0438, United States v. Woodruff
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 9th Circuit Northern District of California
    • 22 Agosto 1996
    ...Rec 11848; see also Evans v. United States, 504 U.S. 255, 261, 112 S.Ct. 1881, 1885-86, 119 L.Ed.2d 57 (1992); United States v. Local 807, 315 U.S. 521, 535, 62 S.Ct. 642, 647-48, 86 L.Ed. 1004 (1942). 1 The multistate character of these types of criminal activities was thought to justify t......
  • 334 F.2d 678 (3rd Cir. 1964), 14614, United States v. Provenzano
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • 30 Junio 1964
    ...was passed after this Court had construed § 2 of the Federal Anti-Racketeering Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 979, in United States v. Local 807, 315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004. Subsection (a) of § 2 barred, with respect to interstate commerce, exaction of valuable considerations by force......
  • United States v. Kirsch, 033115 NYWDC, 07-CR-304S (6)
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit Western District of New York
    • 31 Marzo 2015
    ...and Helpers of Am. and the Third Circuit's decision in United States v. Kemble. 410 U.S. 396, 93 S.Ct. 1007, 35 L.Ed.2d 379 (1973); 315 U.S. 521, 62 S.Ct. 642, 86 L.Ed. 1004 (1942); 198 F.2d 889 (3d Cir. Local 807 involved the operation of delivery trucks to and from New York City. 315 U.S.......
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