Butte Miners' Union No. 1 v. Anaconda Copper Mining Co.

Decision Date27 September 1941
Docket Number8157.
Citation118 P.2d 148,112 Mont. 418
CourtMontana Supreme Court

Appeal from District Court, Second District, Silver Bow County Frank P. Leiper, Judge.

Action by the Butte Miners' Union No. 1 and others against the Anaconda Copper Mining Company for an injunction restraining defendant and its representatives from requiring the individual plaintiffs and others similarly situated to work longer than eight hours per day. From a judgment of dismissal, plaintiffs appeal.

Judgment reversed with directions.

MORRIS J., dissenting.

Wellington D. Rankin, of Helena, and Philip O'Donnell and Charles Zimmerman, both of Butte, for appellants.

W. H Hoover, John V. Dwyer, and J. T. Finlen, Jr., all of Butte, for respondent.

JOHNSON Chief Justice.

Plaintiffs appeal from a judgment of dismissal dated July 24, 1940, and rendered on July 29, by reason of their failure to file an amended complaint after an order filed on July 2, 1940, sustaining defendant's general and special demurrer to the complaint.

The plaintiffs are Butte Miners' Union No. 1, a voluntary association, and twenty individuals, seventeen of whom are alleged to be underground employees actually engaged in mining operations in defendant's mines, and also officers, trustees or committee members of the Union, the other three individuals being officers of the Union but not alleged to be underground employees of defendant.

The complaint alleges among other things that the underground employees of defendant, including the seventeen individual plaintiffs alleged to be such employees, are required to work more than eight hours per day without there being any emergency, and that they will continue to be required to work under those conditions in the future until restrained by the court; that about five thousand persons are interested in this proceeding, that it is not practicable to bring them all before the court, and that the action is brought by the plaintiffs for the benefit of all employees in defendant's underground mines; that there is no plain, speedy or adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law; that some of the plaintiffs and the other underground employees are required to work for eight and three-quarters (8 3/4) to nine and a half (9 1/2) hours per day; that the said plaintiffs, "and all other miners similarly situated, have been, and now are, required to report at the respective mines where they are employed by said defendant not less than 15 minutes prior to the time that they are to be taken down into said mines; that upon reporting said miners immediately are under the supervision and direction of said defendant, whereupon said defendant requires each of said miners to obtain a light supplied by said defendant for their use in said mine of a value in excess of fifteen dollars, and to obtain from the defendant such drill bits and other tools and equipment as they may need for their work during said shift in working in said mine; that thereupon said employees are required to and do wait at the mouth of the shaft and are taken down to the workings as fast as the elevator cage facilities will lower them to the workings in said mines; that the said miners are lowered in successive trips of said elevator cages, the last men being lowered to said workings approximately one-half hour after the work of lowering said men has commenced; that thereupon said miners remain in said mine continuously for a period of eight and one-half hours from the time the defendant commenced lowering said men into said mines as aforesaid; that at some time during said eight and one-half hour period said employees are permitted a sufficient time, not exceeding 30 minutes, to eat the lunch which they have taken with them at a time most convenient for the carrying on of work in said mine, and during which said time they are not permitted to leave said mine or the underground workings in which they are engaged at work; that after a period of eight and one-half hours has elapsed from the time that the first men were lowered into said shaft as aforesaid said underground employees are permitted to quit actual mining operations and are thereupon raised to the surface as rapidly as the facilities will permit which requires approximately three-quarters of an hour, the last man being raised to the surface approximately nine and one-half hours from the time they reported for work at the beginning of said shift as aforesaid, and thereupon said miners are required to return and do return said lights supplied them at the beginning of said shift as aforesaid and deliver to the defendant the bits and tools and equipment used in the course of mining operations on said shift until which time they are not free to leave said premises; that for such employment and for such hours of employment, the defendant pays to such underground employees for eight hours service and no more; that from the time said miners report for work until they return their lights and used bits and other tools and equipment at the conclusion of said shift, said miners perform a day's work of more than eight hours per day, to-wit, from eight and three-quarters to nine and one-half hours per day, contrary to the provisions of Article XVIII, section 4 of the Constitution of Montana and Section 3071, R.C.M. 1935."

The prayer is for an injunction restraining defendant and its representatives, etc., from requiring plaintiffs and others similarly situated to work longer than eight hours per day.

As noted above, the defendant interposed a general and special demurrer. The grounds of the latter were that the Union, being an unincorporated association, had no legal capacity to sue and that there was a misjoinder of parties plaintiff in that the Union and its three officers were not alleged to be underground employees of the defendant, did not have a direct interest in the subject of action, and were not proper parties.

For many years this state has had constitutional and statutory provisions relating to the hours of labor in underground mines and elsewhere. Section 3071, R.C., was originally enacted in 1901 as section 1 of House Bill 1 (1901 Session Laws page 62), the title of which was "An Act for the Protection of the Health of Men Employed in Underground Mines *** By Regulating their hours of employment and providing penalties for the violation thereof." It provided that "the period of employment of working men in all underground mines or workings, shall be eight (8) hours per day, except in cases of emergency where life or property is in imminent danger." The provision was amended by section 1 of Chapter 21 of the 1911 Session Laws in a respect not material here. Section 4 of Article XVIII of the Constitution of Montana was adopted in 1904 and provided: "A period of eight hours shall constitute a day's work *** in underground mines." This provision was amended in 1936 to make it applicable to "all industries, occupations, undertakings and employments, except farming and stock raising; provided, however, that the legislative assembly may by law reduce the number of hours constituting a day's work whenever in its opinion a reduction will better promote the general welfare ***."

On June 25, 1938, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 201 et seq., enacted for the same general purposes, became law, setting standards of minimum wages per hour and maximum hours per week "in industries engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce" (defining "commerce" as commerce across state lines), and creating a Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor, under the direction of an Administrator, to enforce its terms by orders subject to review by the federal courts.

It has been held by the United States Supreme Court that the power of Congress over interstate commerce is not confined strictly to the regulation of such commerce, but extends to those intrastate activities which so affect interstate commerce, or the exercise of the power of Congress over it, as to make the regulation of them appropriate means to the attainment of a legitimate end--the exercise of the granted power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100, 657, 61 S.Ct. 451, 85 L.Ed. 609, 132 A.L.R. 1430; Opp Cotton Mills, Inc., v. Administrator, 312 U.S 126, 657, 61 S.Ct. 524, 85 L.Ed. 624. In those cases it was held that the wages and hours provisions with reference to the production of goods (lumber and cloth) for interstate commerce were within the powers of Congress under the interstate commerce clause of the United States Constitution. Those holdings are binding upon the state courts. Montana Manganese Co. v. Ringeling, 65 Mont. 249, 211 P. 333; Notti v. Great Northern Railway Co., 110 Mont. 464, 104 P.2d 7.

The administrator made on March 17, 1941, and promulgated on March 23rd to become effective as of April 1, 1941 (later extended to May 1st), an opinion or ruling relative to hours of labor in underground metal mining, in which he established an interpretation of the words "hours worked" which includes much of the miners' required expenditure of time of the kind alleged in the complaint to constitute work in excess of the permitted hours per day. It follows that for the purpose of the federal act, at least, "hours worked" as thus interpreted must be considered as constituting part of the work day and therefore of the work week. That ruling is a public official act of the executive department of the United States, of which the courts of this state must take judicial notice (section 10532, Rev.Codes, paragraph 3), and constitutes an interpretation by the authority in charge of the administration of the...

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2 cases
  • Elkins v. Showcase, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • July 26, 1985
    ...announced by the Administrator should be taken to override or nullify the provisions of these laws." In Butte M. Union v. Anaconda C. Min. Co., 112 Mont. 418, 118 P.2d 148 (1941), it was held that, upon the exercise of federal jurisdiction over the hours of labor in underground metal mines ......
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    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • May 6, 1947
    ...... effective until July 1, 1945. . .          On. April 18th, ... view. This court in Butte Miners' Union No. 1 v. Anaconda Copper Min. Co., ......

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