348 U.S. 468 (1955), 97, Weber v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 97
Citation:348 U.S. 468, 75 S.Ct. 480, 99 L.Ed. 546
Party Name:Weber v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
Case Date:March 28, 1955
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 468

348 U.S. 468 (1955)

75 S.Ct. 480, 99 L.Ed. 546



Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

No. 97

United States Supreme Court

March 28, 1955

Argued February 2-3, 1955



In a dispute between two unions over work being performed for respondent, each claiming the work for its own members, one union went on strike. Respondent filed with the National Labor Relations Board a charge of an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4)(D) of the Taft-Hartley Act against the striking union, but the Board held that no "dispute" existed within the meaning of that subsection and quashed the notice of a hearing. Respondent filed a complaint in a Missouri state court, alleging violations of other subsections of § 8(b)(4) of the Taft-Hartley Act and also a violation of the State's restraint of trade statute. The state court enjoined the strike as a restraint of trade.

Held: the state court was without jurisdiction to enjoin the conduct of the union, since its jurisdiction had been preempted by the authority vested in the National Labor Relations Board. Pp. 469-482.

(a) Whether the Board's finding that no violation of § 8(b)(4)(D) was involved necessarily encompassed a ruling on the other subsections was a question for the Board to pass upon in the first instance. Pp. 477-478.

(b) Congress has sufficiently expressed its purpose to bring the conduct here in controversy within federal control and to exclude state prohibition, even though that with which the federal law is concerned as a matter of labor relations be related by the State to the more inclusive area of restraint of trade. Pp. 480-481.

(c) Where the moving party itself alleges unfair labor practices, where the facts reasonably bring the controversy within the sections prohibiting these practices, and where the conduct, if not prohibited by the federal Act, may reasonably be deemed to come within the protection afforded by that Act, a state court must decline jurisdiction in deference to the tribunal which Congress has selected for determining such issues in the first instance. P. 481.

(d) Allen-Bradley Local v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Board, 315 U.S. 740, distinguished. Pp. 481-182.

364 Mo. 573, 265 S.W.2d 325, reversed.

Page 469

The State Supreme Court affirmed a permanent injunction issued by a lower state court against petitioner. 364 Mo. 573, 265 S.W.2d 325. This Court granted. certiorari. 348 U.S. 808. Reversed and remanded, p. 482.

FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case grew out of a dispute between petitioner, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, and the Millwrights, affiliated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners (Carpenters), which, in turn, was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, over millwright work being performed for respondent, each union claiming the work for its own members.

Respondent is engaged in the interstate manufacture and sale of beer and other commodities, with its principal place of business in St. Louis, Missouri. Its employees include members of both the IAM and the Carpenters. Respondent has always required a large amount of millwright work to be performed by outside contractors in the expansion of its facilities. After the IAM was certified

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in 1948 by the National Labor Relations Board as the exclusive bargaining representative of respondent's machinists, respondent executed a collective bargaining contract with the IAM for 1949 which provided in part that, when the repair or replacement of machinery was necessary, this work would be given only to those contractors who had collective agreements with the IAM. As a result of protests from the Carpenters, who claimed the same type of work for their own members, the clause was deleted from the 1950 contract between respondent and the IAM, but it was later reinstated in the 1951 contract. The Carpenters again protested, this time threatening that they would sign no contract with respondent covering those employees who were members of the Carpenters until the clause was deleted from the IAM contract. When the 1951 IAM contract expired and negotiations for a 1952 contract began, respondent refused to agree to the insertion of the clause in the new contract. An impasse was reached in the negotiations, and finally the IAM went on strike.

At the time the strike was called, only one contractor was actually engaged in respondent's millwright work, and the employees of that one contractor were covered by a contract with the IAM.

On April 8, 1952, the day after the strike was called, respondent filed a charge of an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4)(D) of the Taft-Hartley Act against the IAM.1

On November 18, 1952, the National Labor Relations Board quashed the notice of a hearing, holding that no "dispute" existed within the meaning of the invoked subsection. The Board reasoned that, at the time of the strike, the IAM could not have been requesting the assignment [75 S.Ct. 483] of "particular" work to IAM members, because the IAM was not complaining about the assignment

Page 471

of work by respondent to its own employees, and as to work assigned by respondent's contractors, (1) the IAM had made no demand on those contractors to give their work to IAM labor, and (2) no millwright work performed by respondent's contractors at that time was in fact being performed by other than IAM labor. District No. 9, International Association of Machinists, 101 N.L.R.B. 346.

It must be emphasized that the only unfair labor practice charge filed with the Board, and the only one upon which the Board acted, was that prescribed in Subsection (D) of § 8(b)(4).

In the meantime, on April 19, 1952, after it had filed the charge with the Board but before the Board had acted upon it, respondent sought an injunction against the IAM in the State Circuit Court in St. Louis. In its complaint, respondent alleged that the strike constituted "a secondary boycott under the common law of the State of Missouri," and also was in violation of Subsections (A), (B) and (D) of § 8(b)(4) of the Taft-Hartley Act2 and

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of § 303(a)(1), (2) and (4) of that same Act.3 A temporary injunction issued. On April 30, respondent amended its complaint with the [75 S.Ct. 484] additional claim that the IAM's conduct constituted an illegal conspiracy in restraint of

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trade under Missouri common law and conspiracy statutes. Mo.Rev.Stat.1949, § 416.010. The temporary injunction was thereupon made permanent on September 30, 1952, some time before the Board, it will be recalled, held that there was no violation of § 8(b)(4)(D) of the Taft-Hartley Act. This injunction was vacated, but immediately reentered, on October 3, 1952.

The IAM appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court from the Circuit Court's injunction. That court affirmed the permanent injunction on February 8, 1954, more than a year after the Board found no violation of § 8(b)(4)(D).

The Missouri Supreme Court held that the IAM's conduct constituted a violation of the State's restraint of trade statute, and, as such, was enjoinable. It referred to the ruling of the Board as a determination that

no labor dispute existed between these parties, and that no unfair labor practices were there involved, and the Board, upon such ruling, quashed the notice of the hearing.

The court then stated:

The cases relied on by the defendants [the IAM] are largely cases involving existing labor disputes and unfair labor practices. We think those cases are not in point.

The court concluded:

A jurisdictional quarrel between two rival labor unions is not a labor dispute within the Norris-LaGuardia Act, . . . the Wagner Act, or the Taft-Hartley Act.

Mo.Sup., 265 S.W.2d 325, 332, 333. The State Supreme Court thus treated the Board's holding as a determination that the allegation on which the injunction issued excluded the basis for a charge of an unfair labor practice under the Taft-Hartley Act.

The principal question that the case raises, whether the state court had jurisdiction to enjoin the IAM's conduct or whether its jurisdiction had been preempted by the authority vested in the National Labor Relations Board, has an importance in the federal-state relations regarding

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industrial controversies that led us to grant certiorari. 348 U.S. 808.

The Court has had numerous occasions to deal with this delicate problem of the interplay between state and federal jurisdiction touching labor relations. It is helpful to a consideration of this latest phase briefly to summarize where our decisions, under both the Wagner Act and the Taft-Hartley Act, have brought us.

1. The Court has ruled that a State may not prohibit the exercise of rights which the federal Acts protect. Thus, in Hill v. Florida, 325 U.S. 538, the State enjoined a labor union from functioning until it had complied with certain statutory requirements. The injunction was invalidated on the ground that the Wagner Act included a "federally established right to collective bargaining" with which the injunction conflicted. International Union v. O'Brien, 339 U.S. 454, involved the strike vote provisions of a state act which prohibited the calling of a strike until a specific statutory procedure had been followed. The state act was held to conflict not only with the procedure and other requirements of the Taft-Hartley strike provisions, but also with the protection afforded by § 7 of that Act.4 In Amalgamated Association v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Board, 340 U.S. 383, the state court issued an injunction under a [75 S.Ct. 485] statute which made it a misdemeanor to interrupt by strike any essential public utility services. It was held that the state statute was invalid in that it denied a right

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which Congress had guaranteed under §...

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