Goldfield Consol. Mines Co. v. Goldfield Miners' Union 220

Citation159 F. 500
Decision Date07 March 1908
Docket Number1,020.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Nevada

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Complainant a Wyoming corporation, owns mines in the Goldfield mining District, and also owns about 97 per cent. of the capital stock of the Goldfield Mohawk Mining Company, Red Top Mining Company, Goldfield Mining Company, and Laguna Goldfield Mining Company. It operates all of its own mines, as well as the mines of said companies, as one property for the use and benefit of itself and other stockholders. It appears from the bill of complaint that the Goldfield Miners' Union No 220 is an unincorporated association composed of the individual respondents named, and from 1,500 to 2,000 other persons in Goldfield, all of whom are residents of Nevada. It is a branch of the Western Federation of Miners, also a voluntary, unincorporated association.

It is alleged that the Goldfield Miners' Union, though claiming to be a labor organization, is a criminal society, organized to agitate certain so-called political questions, which tend to subvert the general principles of government, and, for the purpose of carrying out its conspiracy, it has, as one of its cardinal principles, that there shall be a continuous state of warfare between its employers and employes; that it is the duty of the employes to take the property of the employers by stealth and force, and if the demands of the employes are not complied with, to destroy the property of the employers; that it seeks to accomplish its purpose by making unreasonable demands upon complainant, and enforcing the same by threats boycotts, intimidations, picketing, brutal assaults, deportations, and other similar methods; that in the past two years the union has at Goldfield declared a large number of strikes, to enforce which it has resorted to every form of lawless violence, even to murder and wanton destruction of property; that each of these strikes was a conspiracy on the part of respondents to prevent complainant from working its mines, and shipping its ores to other states, unless it agree to the terms announced by said respondents, in consequence of which complainant's mines have been idle more than one-quarter of the time, and such a threatening condition of disorder was produced that it became necessary in December, 1907, to bring federal troops to Goldfield in order to maintain public peace and safety; that since December 12th the respondents have caused complainant's properties to be picketed; that is, a large number of men belonging to Goldfield Miners' Union No. 220 have kept constant watch upon complainant's property, unlawfully invaded the same, endeavored to prevent employes from working for complainant, and threatened them with bodily harm, death, or deportation if they continued to work. It is further alleged that complainant pays higher wages than are ordinarily paid in Western mining camps; that it is unable to secure a sufficient number of men to operate its works by reason of the unlawful conduct of respondents; that it can obtain hundreds of men who are ready and willing to work if assured adequate protection; that the pickets and trespasses have increased in number; the threats and intimidations have increased day by day since the picketing was first established, and that the property of complainant will be destroyed in whole or in part unless some order is made by this court to protect the same. By reason of respondents' unlawful conspiracy complainant has been put to an expense of over $10,000 by the shutting down of its mines, guarding its property, and bringing men from other points; that such expense is increasing, and will continue to increase unless the court by some order protects complainant's property and employes. The bill further states that the union is a nuisance and an illegal body existing for the sole purpose of hampering complainant in the control of its business, and preventing interstate commerce; that it is a continual menace to complainant's business, and will, so long as it exists, prevent complainant from mining and shipping its ores, and cause hundreds of thousands of dollars damage to complainant's property; that the respondents are wholly irresponsible, and the union should be abated as a nuisance; that all said conspiracies are planned in meetings of the union, and if such meetings are permitted to continue the conspiracies will continue to be hatched, and the injury will be irreparable; that the shutting down of the mines has already caused drifts, stopes, and other workings in the mines to cave.

An injunction is asked restraining respondents from obstructing the operation of complainant's mines; from intimidating its employes; from congregating on and picketing its works; from maintaining an illegal boycott against the company, its agents or employes; and from holding or attending any meeting of the Goldfield Miners' Union. It is further asked that said Goldfield Miners' Union be prohibited from holding or calling any meeting of any kind in the Goldfield Mining District, or elsewhere.

To this bill a joint plea and answer was filed, in which it is alleged that complainant is violating the provisions of the Constitution of Wyoming against consolidations and combinations, to prevent competition; against forming corporations for holding stock in other corporations, and against monopolies. It is further averred that complainant in November, 1907, conspired with other corporations and millowners in Goldfield District, to oppress, boycott, and drive therefrom all laborers in and about the mines who would not accept the scale of wages and other conditions dictated by the members of such combination, in pursuance of which they adopted a reduced scale of wages and refused to employ any members of the Western Federation of Miners, or of the respondent union. It also avers that the present strike is due to the fact that the members of the union were unwilling to accept depreciated paper in lieu of money for wages. Respondents also deny that they have caused any depreciation in complainant's stock; that either the union or the Western Federation of Miners is a conspiracy, or that their principles or practices are unlawful; deny that they have made or enforced any demands by boycotts, threats, intimidation, picketing, brutal assaults, or deportation, or that they have resorted to any form of lawlessness or violence in the Goldfield Mining District. It is alleged that the bringing of the federal troops to Nevada was unnecessary, and was brought about by complainant and others in pursuance of the above-mentioned conspiracy; deny that the union ever caused complainant's property to be picketed, or has adopted a system of picketing in said strike, except that divers members of the union, voluntarily and without preconcert, and without any special direction of the union, have gone into the neighborhood of complainant's property, and addressed lawful arguments to any nonunion man willing to listen; deny any unlawful picketing or trespass on complainant's property, or that respondents have caused, or will by any unlawful acts or conduct cause, complainant any loss or expense, or that any order of this court is necessary to protect complainant's property or employes, or that respondents are unable to respond in damages, or that the union is a nuisance, or an unlawful or illegal body, or that it has been, or is, an unlawful menace to complainant's business; and, in general, denies all unlawful conspiracies and combinations charged in the bill.

In order to appreciate the present conditions in Goldfield it is necessary to review briefly the relations which have existed between the parties herein during the year preceding the commencement of the present trouble.

The affidavit of W. H. Bryant shows that the stealing of high grade ores by complainant's employes from mines operated by complainant has been a common practice, and that during the six months preceding December 31, 1907, not less than $1,000,000 worth of ore was so stolen from the Mohawk property alone. The statement has not been denied. This practice has been the source of much irritation. In December 1906, in pursuance of an order and injunction of the federal court, watchers were sent to the Mohawk property to prevent the stealing of ore; thereupon the employes, 'all of whom were under the jurisdiction of the respondent, Goldfield Miners' Union No. 220, refused to work below the surface where any of said watchers were stationed. ' The affidavit of E. S. Sheridan, one of these watchers, shows that he was waited on by a committee from said union consisting of Ted James, the present assistant secretary of the union, and John Devit, who remonstrated with him on the ground that no good union man would stand guard over the men. Sheridan refused to give up his position, and shortly after was expelled from the union. Later, the union demanded his discharge by the company on the ground that he had violated his obligations to the union. This was refused. December 20, 1906, a general labor strike was inaugurated by the union. Complainant's mines were shut down on this occasion 19 days. January 9, 1907, a settlement was reached; the wages of each employe were then raised about one dollar per day, and it was agreed that properly appointed change rooms should be erected at the mines; that any operator might at any time require all employes to use such change rooms in going on and off shift, and to change their outer garments; the change rooms were to be under the control of a watchman. The object of the change room was to check ore stealing or 'high-grading.' Early in March, 1907, trouble arose between the Goldfield Miners' Union No....

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