367 U.S. 740 (1961), 4, International Association of Machinists v. Street

Docket Nº:No. 4
Citation:367 U.S. 740, 81 S.Ct. 1784, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141
Party Name:International Association of Machinists v. Street
Case Date:June 19, 1961
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 740

367 U.S. 740 (1961)

81 S.Ct. 1784, 6 L.Ed.2d 1141

International Association of Machinists

v.

Street

No. 4

United States Supreme Court

June 19, 1961

        Argued April 21, 1960

        Set for reargument June 20, 1960

        Reargued January 17-18, 1961

        APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA

        Syllabus

        A group of railroad employees sued in a Georgia State Court to enjoin enforcement of a union shop agreement entered into between a group of railroads and labor unions of their employees under § 2, Eleventh, of the Railway Labor Act, which required all employees to join the union and to pay initiation fees, assessments and dues in order to keep their jobs. The complaint alleged that a substantial part of the money each of these employes was thus compelled to pay was used over his protest to finance the campaigns of political candidates whom he opposed, and to promote the propagation of political and economic doctrines, concepts, and ideologies with which he disagreed. The trial court found that the allegations were fully proved, and that, in these circumstances, the union shop agreement violated the complaining employees' rights under the First Amendment. It enjoined enforcement of the union shop agreement and awarded some of the employees judgments for the money they had been required to pay. The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed.

        Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings. Pp. 742-775.

        1. In Railway Employees' Dept. v. Hanson, 351 U.S. 225, this Court held that enactment of the provision of § 2, Eleventh, which authorizes union shop agreements between interstate railroads and unions of their employees was a valid exercise by Congress of its powers under the Commerce Clause and did not, on its face, violate the First Amendment or the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, but it reserved decision on the constitutional questions presented in this case by the actual application of that section and the union shop agreements entered into thereunder. Pp. 746-749.

        2. Though the record in this case adequately presents those constitutional questions, it is not necessary for this Court to decide the correctness of the constitutional determinations made by the Georgia Courts, because § 2, Eleventh, denies authority to a union,

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over the employee's objection, to spend his money for political causes which he opposes. Pp. 749-770.

        (a) A review of the legislative history of the Railway Labor Act leads to the conclusion that the purpose of § 2, Eleventh, is to force employees to share the costs of negotiating and administering collective agreements and adjusting and settling disputes. Pp. 750-764.

        (b) Section 2, Eleventh, denies the unions the power, over an employee's objection, to use his exacted funds to support political causes which he opposes. Pp. 765-770.

        3. The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings, including the fashioning of a more appropriate remedy. Pp. 771-775.

        (a) The union shop agreement itself is not unlawful, and the employees here involved remain obligated, as a condition of continued employment, to make the payments to their respective unions called for by the agreement. P. 771.

        (b) The injunction restraining enforcement of the union shop agreement is not a remedy appropriate to the violation of the Act's restrictions on expenditures. Pp. 771-772.

        (c) A blanket injunction against all expenditures of funds for the disputed purposes, even one conditioned on cessation of improper expenditures, would not be a proper exercise of equitable discretion. Pp. 772-773.

        (d) Any remedy should be granted only to employees who have made known to the union officials that they do not desire their funds to be used for political causes to which they object. P. 774.

        (e) The present action is not a true class action, since there was no attempt to prove the existence of a class of workers who had specifically objected to the exaction of dues for political purposes. Therefore, only those who have identified themselves as opposed to political uses of their funds are entitled to relief in this action. P. 774.

        (f) One possible remedy would be an injunction against expenditure for political causes opposed by each complaining employee of a sum, from those moneys to be spent by the union for political purposes, which is so much of the moneys exacted from him as is the proportion of the union's total expenditures made for such political activities to the union's total budget. Pp. 774-775.

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        (g) Another possible remedy would be restitution to each individual employee of that portion of his money which the union expended, despite his notification, for the political causes to which he advised the union he was opposed. P. 775.

        215 Ga. 27, 108 S.E.2d 796, judgment reversed and case remanded.

        BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

        MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

        A group of labor organizations, appellants here, and the carriers comprising the Southern Railway System, entered into a union shop agreement pursuant to the authority of § 2, Eleventh, of the Railway Labor Act.1 The agreement

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requires [81 S.Ct. 1787] each of the appellees, employees of the carriers, as a condition of continued employment, to pay the appellant union representing his particular class of craft the dues, initiation fees and assessments uniformly

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required as a condition of acquiring or retaining union membership. The appellees, in behalf of themselves and of employees similarly situated, brought this action in the Superior Court of Bibb County, Georgia, alleging that the money each was thus compelled to pay to hold his job was in substantial part used to finance the campaigns of candidates for federal and state offices whom he opposed, and to promote the propagation of political and economic doctrines, concepts and ideologies with which he disagreed. The Superior Court found that the allegations were fully proved,2 and entered a judgment

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and decree enjoining the enforcement of the [81 S.Ct. 1788] union shop agreement on the ground that § 2, Eleventh, violates the Federal Constitution to the extent that it permits such use by the appellants of the funds exacted from employees.3 The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed, 215

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Ga. 27, 108 S.E.2d 796.4 On appeal to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1257(1), we noted probable jurisdiction, 361 U.S. 807.

        I

        THE HANSON DECISION

        We held in Railway Employees' Dept. v. Hanson, 351 U.S. 225, that enactment of the provision of § 2, Eleventh, authorizing union shop agreements between interstate railroads and unions of their employees was a valid exercise by Congress of its powers under the Commerce Clause, and did not violate the First Amendment or the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. It is argued that our disposition of the First Amendment claims in Hanson disposes of appellees' constitutional claims in this case adversely to their contentions. We disagree. As appears from its history, that case decided only that § 2, Eleventh, in authorizing collective agreements conditioning employees'

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continued employment on payment of union dues, initiation fees and assessments, did not, on its face, impinge upon protected rights of association. The Nebraska Supreme Court, in Hanson, upholding the employees' contention that the union shop could not constitutionally be enforced against them, stated that the union shop

improperly burdens their right to work and infringes upon their freedoms. This is particularly true as to the latter, because it is apparent that some of these labor organizations advocate political ideas, [81 S.Ct. 1789] support political candidates, and advance national economic concepts which may or may not be of an employee's choice.

        Hanson v. Union Pac. R. Co., 160 Neb. 669, 697, 71 N.W.2d 526, 546. That statement was made in the context of the argument that compelling an individual to become a member of an organization with political aspects is an infringement of the constitutional freedom of association, whatever may be the constitutionality of compulsory financial support of group activities outside the political process. The Nebraska court's reference to the support of political ideas, candidates, and economic concepts "which may or may not be of an employee's choice" indicates that it was considering, at most, the question of compelled membership in an organization with political facets. In their brief in this Court, the appellees in Hanson argued that First Amendment rights would be infringed by the enforcement of an agreement which would enable compulsorily collected funds to be used for political purposes. But there was nothing concrete in the record to show the extent to which the unions were actually spending money for political purposes, and what these purposes were; nothing to show the extent to which union funds collected from members were being used to meet the costs of political activity and the mechanism by which this was done; and nothing to show that the employees there involved opposed the use of their

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money for any particular political objective.5 In contrast, the present record contains detailed information on all these points, and specific findings were made in the courts below as to all of them. When it is recalled that the action in Hanson was brought before the union shop agreement became effective, and that the appellees never thereafter showed that the unions were actually engaged in furthering political causes with which they disagreed and that their money would be used...

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