Hamer v. Nashawena Mills

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Citation315 Mass. 160,52 N.E.2d 22
Decision Date01 December 1943
PartiesMARY R. HAMER & others v. NASHAWENA MILLS, INC. & others.

315 Mass. 160

52 N.E.2d 22

MARY R. HAMER & others


Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Bristol.

December 1, 1943

October 25, 1943.

Present: FIELD, C.


Labor and Labor Union. Contract, Validity, Closed shop contract, Of employment. Constitutional Law, Labor, Obligation of contracts, Police power.

A contract between an employer of labor in a plant and a labor union, which had been certified by the national labor relations board, after an election duly held, as the collective bargaining representative of all employees in a certain unit of the plant, was valid and enforceable under the Federal labor relations act and the State labor relations law although it included closed shop provisions that, in certain conditions of the labor market, no one not a member of the union should be employed in the unit.

In the negotiation and execution of a contract between an employer of labor and a labor union, which, after an election duly held according to the direction of the Federal labor relations board, had been certified by it as the collective bargaining representative of all employees in a certain unit of the employer's establishment, the union was acting not only for employees who were its own members but also for all other employees included in the designated unit, and employees in the unit who were not members of the union were bound by the contract, including its closed shop provisions. A labor union which, after an election duly held, had been certified by the

Federal labor relations board as the collective bargaining representative of employees in a certain establishment and had negotiated and executed with the employer a contract with a closed shop provision, did not violate G. L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 149, Section 19, in soliciting employees in the establishment who were nonmembers of the union to join it in order to continue in employment.

BILL IN EQUITY, filed in the Superior Court on July 20, 1943. The suit was heard on the question of issuance of an injunction pendente lite by Warner, J., and on the merits by Brogna, J.

G. H. Young, for the plaintiffs.

C. B. Rugg, (W.

F. Sullivan, Jr., & J.

J. Phelan, Jr., with him,) for Nashawena Mills, Inc., and another. [315 Mass. 161]

I. Katz of New York, (S.

S. Grant with him,) for the defendant England.

RONAN, J. 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 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 constituent 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 [315 Mass. 162] 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...

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