Hamer v. Nashawena Mills, Inc.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtRONAN
Citation52 N.E.2d 22,315 Mass. 160
PartiesHAMER et al. v. NASHAWENA MILLS, Inc., et al.
Decision Date01 December 1943

315 Mass. 160
52 N.E.2d 22

HAMER et al.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Bristol.

Dec. 1, 1943.

Report from Superior Court, Bristol County; Brogna, Judge.

Suit by Mary R. Hamer and others against Nashawena Mills, Inc., and others to enjoin enforcement of a contract requiring employees to become members of a particular union as a condition precedent to their continued employment by members of a textile manufacturers' association. A judge of the superior court reported his action in refusing to grant an injunction, and the trial judge to whom the suit was submitted upon an agreement of all the material facts reports the case to the Supreme Judicial Court without making a decision.

Bill ordered dismissed.

[52 N.E.2d 23]

G. H. Young, of New Bedford, for plaintiff.

C. B. Rugg and W. F. Sullivan, Jr., both of Boston, and J. J. Phelan, Jr., of No. Andover, for defendant Nashawena Mills, Inc.

I. Katz, of New York City, and S. S. Grant, of Boston, for defendant England.

RONAN, Justice.

The plaintiffs are employees in the cloth room department of the Nashawena Mills, Inc., hereinafter called the employer. The employer is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cotton textile goods which are now produced principally for the United States. It and nine other companies, which manufacture similar goods, comprise an association known as the New Bedford Cotton Manufacturers' Association. This association represents the major portion of the textile industry in New Bedford, and its member plants employ approximately eleven thousand persons in their production and maintenance departments. The association has for years conducted collective bargaining

[52 N.E.2d 24]

with the employees of the member plants through the New Bedford Textile Council. The association entered into a written contract in 1938 with the council which was then unaffiliated with any national organization. The council and its local unions later became associated with the United Textile Workers of America, a branch of the American Federation of Labor, and its contract with the manufacturers' association was revised and contained provisions that all employees who are members of any constitutent union of the council or of any union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor shall become and remain members in good standing of such unions; that employees who have entered the employment of the member plants since January 1, 1932, must become members of such unions within thirty days; and that all new employees must become members of the appropriate constituent union and must remain members in good standing during the term of the contract. This contract was terminated on January 31, 1943. Thereafter, the National Labor Relations Board directed that an election be held, and on April 14, 1943, as a result of said election, certified the Textile Workers Union of America, affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, more commonly referred to as the C. I. O., as the collective bargaining representative of all employees employed in the maintenance and production departments of the ten member plants. The Textile Workers Union of America is a voluntary, unincorporated association, the members of which are fairly represented by its director, the defendant England. This local union and the manufacturers' association entered into a written contract on June 19, 1943. Among other provisions, this contract provided that all employees shall, as a condition of continued employment in any member mill, be and remain members of the union in good standing; that employees who are not members of the union shall become members in thirty days; that present employees over fifty years of age who have been employed for at least ten years may, but are not required to, join the union; that present and new employees are not required to join the union if such employees cannot readily be replaced by the union; and that members of the union are to be given preference in hiring new employees. Employees of the defendant mills who are not members of the union have been solicited to join the local. The provisions of this contract have been fully explained to them. There is a shortage of mill operatives. Some of the plaintiffs have withdrawn from the present suit. The remaining plaintiffs are members of a rival union and do not desire to quit their employment or to join the defendant union. It is fairly inferable that, if a supply of labor becomes available, they will be discharged unless they join the defendant union which is ready to admit them to membership. A judge of the Superior Court reported his action in refusing to grant an injunction, and the trial judge to whom the suit was submitted upon an agreement of all the material facts, reported the case to this court without making a decision.

The issue presented is whether the portion of the contract between the manufacturers' association and the defendant union, providing for the employees becoming members of the union as a condition precedent to their continued employment, is valid and enforceable.

We need not pause to inquire as to what limitations recent legislation has imposed upon the common law right of an employer to deal directly with his employees and contract with them personally and, if he decided to hire any particular person, to agree upon the rate of pay, hours of labor, working conditions and the period, if any, of his employment, for we pass directly to the statutes that govern the rights of the parties in the present controversy. The principal aim and object of the National Labor Relations Act and of our State Labor Relations Law is the elimination of industrial conflicts and their consequent effect upon industry and trade, by encouraging collective bargaining and by protecting the full exercise by workers of...

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2 cases
  • Building Service and Maintenance Union Local No. 47 v. St. Lukes Hospital, 843188
    • United States
    • Court of Common Pleas of Ohio
    • June 14, 1967
    ......, 179, Section 15; Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Cleveland, Inc. v. Witter, Ohio Com.Pl., 105 N.E.2d 685, 694; 62 Ohio Law Abst. 17, 31, ... Hamer v. Nashawena Mills, 315 Mass. 160, 164, 52 N.E.2d 22; Tate v. Philadelphia ......
  • Hamer v. Nashawena Mills
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • December 1, 1943
    ...315 Mass. 160 52 N.E.2d 22 MARY R. HAMER & others v. NASHAWENA MILLS, INC. & others. Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Bristol.December 1, October 25, 1943. Present: FIELD, C. J., DONAHUE, DOLAN, COX, & RONAN, JJ. Labor and Labor Union. Contract, Validity, Closed shop contract, Of em......

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