Gray v. Building Trades Council

Decision Date24 December 1903
Docket Number13,652,13,657 - (130)
Citation97 N.W. 663,91 Minn. 171
PartiesW. I. GRAY and Another v. BUILDING TRADES COUNCIL and Others [1]
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

Action in the district court for Hennepin county to restrain defendants, Building Trades Council, and International Brotherhood Electrical Workers of America, Local Union No 292, both unincorporated associations, and the members thereof, from interfering in any manner with the business of plaintiffs by means of threats directed against, or intimidation of, the customers of plaintiffs. After a hearing, pursuant to an order to show cause, a restraining order pendente lite was made, W. R. Cray, J., in form as set forth in the opinion. From this order defendants appealed. Modified.


Temporary Injunction.

The granting of a temporary injunction to plaintiff by the trial court, after issue joined, and upon the pleadings and affidavits of both parties, is, for the purpose of reviewing the action of the court, deemed to be, in effect, a finding that the allegations of the complaint upon which the writ is prayed for are true; and, upon appeal from the order granting the writ, this court will review the affidavits only to the extent of determining whether they fairly tend to support the allegations of the complaint.


A boycott is a combination of several persons to cause loss or injury to a third person by causing others, against their will, to withdraw from him their beneficial business intercourse, through threats that, unless a compliance with their demands be made, the persons forming the combination will cause loss or injury to him, or an organization formed to exclude a person from business relations with others by persuasion, intimidation, or other acts which tend to violence, and thereby cause him, through fear of resulting injury, to submit to dictation in the management of his affairs.


Intimidation coercion, or threats of injury are essential elements of a boycott, but what would constitute acts of that character must depend upon the facts of each particular case.

Constitutional Rights of Citizens.

The constitution guaranties to every citizen liberty and a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character; and a person's business, occupation, or calling is, aside from the chattels or money employed therein, property, within the meaning of the law, and entitled to its protection.

Labor Union.

Labor organizations or unions are not unlawful, but are legitimate and proper for the advancement of their members and those dependent upon them. The members thereof may singly, or in a body, quit the service of their employer for the purpose of bettering their condition, and may by peaceful means persuade others to join them, and, as a means to that end, may refuse to allow their members to work in places where nonunion labor is employed. But boycotting, as defined above, is an unlawful conspiracy, and may be restrained by injunction.

Modification of Injunction.

The temporary injunction ordered issued by the trial court in the cases here before the court held to infringe upon the rights of defendants in the respects mentioned in the opinion.

Thomas Canty, Herman Johnson, and Hall & Kolliner, for appellants.

There is no allegation or even suggestion in the record that defendants have created or attempted to create any monopoly, or have violated any statute by confederating together; and even if they had, an action for an injunction could not be maintained against them therefor by plaintiffs. See Pidcock v. Harrington, 64 F. 821; Greer v. Stoller, 77 F. 1; Gulf, C. & S. F. Ry. Co. v. Miami S.S. Co., 86 F. 407; Southern I. Exp. Co. v. U.S. Exp. Co., 88 F. 659, affirmed in 92 F. 1022.

Neither the evidence nor pleading sustain the injunctions. The complaints were all verified on information and belief and therefore are of no force as evidence to support an injunction. Armstrong v. Sanford, 7 Minn. 34 (49) and cases cited; McRoberts v. Washburne, 10 Minn. 8 (23); 10 Enc. Pl. & Pr. 929. Where there is a manifest preponderance of the weight of the evidence in the affidavits against the decision of the judge on a motion, the order will be reversed on appeal. Rosenberg v. Burnstein, 60 Minn. 18; First Nat. Bank v. Randall, 38 Minn. 382; Blandy v. Raguet, 14 Minn. 179 (243).

Where the equities of the complaint are fully and positively denied in the answer or the affidavits opposing the motion for an injunction, it is, in all but a few exceptional cases, error to grant the injunction. Pineo v. Heffelfinger, 29 Minn. 183; Moss v. Pettingill, 3 Minn. 145 (217); Montgomery v. McEwen, 9 Minn. 93 (103); Knoblauch v. City of Minneapolis, 56 Minn. 321; 10 Enc. Pl. & Pr. 1000, 1001, 1048.

The men have a right to organize and act in concert through their organization and its officers in quitting or threatening to quit work for the purpose of furthering their own interest as an organization. Bohn Mnfg. Co. v. Hollis, 54 Minn. 223; Ertz v. Produce Exchange, 79 Minn. 140; Delz v. Winfree, 80 Tex. 400; Graham v. St. Charles, 47 La. An. 1656; Robinson v. Texas (Tex. Civ. App.) 40 S.W. 343.

Workmen either as individuals or combined together as a union, may refuse and threaten to refuse to work with nonunion men, or in the same general work, undertaking or business in which nonunion men are employed, and such refusal or threatened refusal is not, in law, considered a boycott, no matter how much or how often it interferes with other people's business or contracts. 18 Am. & Eng. Enc. 80, 81, 84, 86-90 (2d Ed.); 6 Am. & Eng. Enc. 872, 873 (2d Ed.); Longshore v. Howell, 26 Ore. 527; McCauley v. Tierney, 19 R.I. 255; Heywood v. Tillson, 75 Me. 225; Commonwealth v. Hunt, 4 Metc. (Mass.) 111, 134; Bowen v. Matheson, 96 Mass. 499; Walker v. Cronin, 107 Mass. 555; Carew v. Rutherford, 106 Mass. 1; Snow v. Wheeler, 113 Mass. 179; National v. Cumming, 170 N.Y. 315; Rogers v. Evarts, 17 N.Y.S. 264; Wunch v. Shankland, 59 A.D. 482; Tallman v. Gaillard, 27 Misc. (N.Y.) 114; Reform Club v. Laborers' Union, 29 Misc. (N.Y.) 247; Davis v. United, 28 A.D. 396; Payne v. Western, 13 Lea, 507; Cote v. Murphy, 159 Pa. St. 420; Clemitt v. Watson (Ind.) 42 N.E. 367; Graham v. St. Charles, supra; Arthur v. Oakes, 63 F. 310, 317; Continental Ins. Co. v. Board, 67 F. 310; Mogul v. McGregor, L.R. 23 Q.B. Div. 598, 613; Allen v. Flood, 67 L.J.Q.B. Div. (N.S.) 119, App. Cas. 1; Huttly v. Simmons, 67 L.J.Q.B. Div. (N.S.) 213; Glamorgan v. South Wales, 71 L.J.K.B. Div. (N.S.) 1001; Perrault v. Gauthier, 28 Can. Sup. 241; Brewster v. Miller, 101 Ky. 368; Baker v. Metropolitan (Ky.) 64 S.W. 913; Baker v. Sun (Ky.) 64 S.W. 967.

Harlan P. Roberts, W. W. Bardwell, Hale & Montgomery, and W. E. Hale, for respondents.

Granting an injunction pendente lite is a matter in the sound discretion of the trial court. Sanitary Reduction Works v. California Reduction Co., 94 F. 693; Southern Pac. Co. v. Earl, 82 F. 690, 692; Myers v. Duluth Transfer Ry. Co., 53 Minn. 335, 337; Gorton v. Town of Forest City, 67 Minn. 36; McGregor v. Case, 80 Minn. 214; Jersey City v. Cassidy (N.J. Eq.) 53 A. 230.

Plaintiffs were subjects of a boycott. Crump v. Commonwealth, 84 Va. 927, 940; Toledo A.A. & N.M. Ry. Co. v. Pennsylvania Co., 54 F. 730, 738, and, under all the authorities, a boycott is illegal and a proper subject for injunction. Casey v. Cincinnati Typographical Union, 45 F. 135; Hopkins v. Oxley Stave Co., 83 F. 912; Thomas v. Cincinnati, N.O. & T.P. Ry. Co., 62 F. 803.

Acts prohibited by the injunction must be considered in the light of the unlawful purpose for which they are being committed. U.S. v. Kane, 23 F. 748; Toledo A.A. & N.M. Ry. Co. v. Pennsylvania Co., supra; Barr v. Essex, 53 N.J.Eq. 101; Allis Chalmers Co. v. Reliable Lodge, 111 F. 264, 268; Gatzow v. Buening, 106 Wis. 1.

Threats of intimidation can occur without any resort to violence, and such threats and intimidation may be made the subject of injunction. Barr v. Essex, supra; Plant v. Woods, 176 Mass. 492; Vegelahn v. Guntner, 167 Mass. 92, 97; U.S. v. Kane, supra.

Interference with existing relations between employer and employees is illegal and a proper subject for injunction, even though there is no continuing contract between the parties. Moran v. Dunphy, 177 Mass. 485; Jersey City v. Cassidy, supra; Lucke v. Clothing Cutters, 77 Md. 396; Temperton v. Russell (1893) 1 Q.B. Div. 715.

Injunctions are necessarily stated in somewhat broad terms; but this injunction is limited in every instance to acts which are being committed in pursuance of the unlawful conspiracy which is set out in the complaint, for the purpose of injuring or crippling the business of the plaintiffs, and was properly issued. Beck v. Railway, 118 Mich. 497; Barr v. Essex, supra; Allis Chalmers Co. v. Reliable Lodge, supra.



Action to restrain and enjoin defendants from boycotting plaintiffs in their business. Six separate actions of the same nature were brought at the same time by different plaintiffs against the same defendants, in each of which the trial court made an order that a temporary injunction issue, restraining and enjoining defendants in the respects hereinafter mentioned, from which order defendants appealed to this court. The cases were submitted here together and upon one set of briefs.

The facts are as follows: Plaintiffs are electrical contractors and engineers, and their business consists in installing wires and other electrical apparatus in buildings and structures, and such business and affairs as are incidental thereto. It is alleged in the complaint in this connection (substantially the same allegations being found in the complaint in each of four of the...

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