Lincoln Fed. Labor Union No. 19129 v. Nw. Iron & Metal Co., No. 32342.

CourtSupreme Court of Nebraska
Writing for the CourtCHAPPELL
PartiesLINCOLN FEDERAL LABOR UNION NO. 19129 et al. v. NORTHWESTERN IRON & METAL CO. et al. (NEBRASKA SMALL BUSINESS MEN'S ASS'N, Intervener).
Docket NumberNo. 32342.
Decision Date19 March 1948

149 Neb. 507
31 N.W.2d 477

LINCOLN FEDERAL LABOR UNION NO. 19129 et al.
v.
NORTHWESTERN IRON & METAL CO. et al. (NEBRASKA SMALL BUSINESS MEN'S ASS'N, Intervener).

No. 32342.

Supreme Court of Nebraska.

March 19, 1948.


Appeal from District Court, Lancaster County; Wilson, Judge.

Action by Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129, American Federation of Labor, Nebraska State Federation of Labor, and Henry Reichel, individually and as President of said Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129, against Northwestern Iron & Metal Company, a corporation, Dan Giebelhouse and the State of Nebraska, wherein Nebraska Small Business Men's Association intervened, for a declaratory judgment to determine constitutionality of the Right to Work amendment to the Nebraska Constitution, for specific performance of a labor contract and for other relief. From the judgment, plaintiffs appeal.

Affirmed.

[31 N.W.2d 479]


Syllabus by the Court.

Sections 13, 14, and 15, article XV, Constitution of Nebraska, are not in violation of any provision of the Constitution of the United States or in conflict with or repugnant to any federal law, but integrated therewith and, having a relationship to the public welfare, are a reasonable and valid exercise of police power by the state.


Bernard S. Gradwohl, of Lincoln, and Herbert S. Thatcher, of Washington, D. C., for appellants.

Louis B. Finkelstein and Ralph W. Slocum, both of Lincoln, Walter R. Johnson, Atty. Gen., Robert A. Nelson, Asst. Atty. Gen., C. S. Beck, Deputy Atty. Gen., Edward R. Burke, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., and Swarr, May, Royce, Smith & Story, of Omaha, for appellees.


Heard before SIMMONS, C. J., PAINE, MESSMORE, YEAGER, CHAPPELL, and WENKE, JJ., and LANDIS, District Judge.

CHAPPELL, Justice.

By virtue of and in conformity with the self-executing provisions of section 2, article III, Constitution of Nebraska, the people of this state lawfully initiated, and on November 5, 1946, by a substantial majority adopted a constitutional amendment, which was proclaimed by the Governor

[31 N.W.2d 480]

as effective December 11, 1946. The amendment is now designated as sections 13, 14, and 15 of article XV, Constitution of Nebraska. See R.S.Supp.1947. Hereinafter in this opinion it will be called the amendment.

This action was originally instituted by plaintiffs in the district court for Lancaster County to obtain a declaratory judgment with respect to the interpretation and constitutional validity of the amendment and to obtain equitable relief by specific performance and injunction. Defendant State of Nebraska filed a general demurrer to plaintiffs' petition, and all other defendants filed motions for judgment on the pleadings, thus making the issues entirely of law under such facts as were well pleaded in plaintiffs' petition.

The constitutional issues arose by virtue of plaintiffs' allegations that defendant Northwestern Iron and Metal Company, engaged in intrastate and interstate commerce, had breached its contract with plaintiff, Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129, by the terms of which defendant company had agreed to discharge any employee who ceased to remain a member of the union in good standing. When defendant Dan Giebelhouse was suspended from plaintiff union for non-payment of dues, the company, upon notice thereof and demand by the union for his discharge, refused to do so, taking the position that the union shop provisions of the contract were invalidated and made unenforceable by virtue of the adoption of the amendment. Plaintiff Henry Reichel, and employee of defendant company and president of plaintiff Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129, an affiliate of plaintiffs American Federation of Labor and Nebraska State Federation of Labor, took the position that the union shop provisions of the contract were not invalidated by the adoption of the amendment, because it was unconstitutional for the reasons hereinafter set forth.

As held by this court in Johnson v. Marsh, 146 Neb. 257, 19 N.W.2d 366, 369: ‘A general demurrer admits all allegations of fact in the pleading to which it is addressed, which are issuable, relevant, material, and well pleaded; but does not admit the conclusions of the pleader, except when supported by, and necessarily result from, the facts pleaded. It does not admit inferences of the pleader from the facts alleged, nor mere expressions of opinion, nor theories of the pleader, nor allegations of the pleader as to what will happen in the future, nor arguments, nor allegations contrary to the facts of which judicial notice is taken, or which are contrary to law.’ See, also, 41 Am.Jur., Pleadings, § 244, p. 463, and Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Palmes, 109 U.S. 244, 3 S.Ct. 193, 27 L.Ed. 922.

Since a motion for judgment on the pleadings is in the nature of a demurrer and is in substance both a motion and a demurrer, it has application in like manner as a demurrer under circumstances similar to those presented in the case at bar. See, Vaughan v. Omaha Wimsett System Co., 143 Neb. 470, 9 N.W.2d 792;State ex rel. Western Reference & Bond Ass'n v. Kinney, 138 Neb. 574, 293 N.W. 393, reversed on other grounds as Olsen v. Nebraska, 313 U.S. 236, 61 S.Ct. 862, 85 L.Ed. 1305, 133 A.L.R. 1500.

In the light of the foregoing rules, the trial court sustained the demurrer and motions for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiffs having elected to stand upon their petition, a judgment was entered in favor of defendants, declaring the amendment not in conflict with any federal law and constitutional as within the police power of the state, thereby making unlawful and unenforceable in Nebraska the provisions of the agreement between the parties whereby defendant agreed to discharge any employee who ceased to remain a member of the union in good standing, regardless of whether such agreement was executed before or after the effective date of the amendment.

Plaintiffs' motions for new trial were overruled, and they appealed to this court. In their brief they set forth at length some 12 assignments of alleged error. They may be summarized, however, as contending that the judgment of the trial court was contrary to law. Plaintiffs argued

[31 N.W.2d 481]

primarily that the amendment: (1) Impairs and previously restrains the exercise of the civil rights of assembly and speech guaranteed under the First Amendment, and as protected against state invasion by the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) constitutes class legislation and is highly discriminatory, denying unions and union members the equal protection of the laws, contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment; and, (3) arbitrarily and unreasonably impairs the obligations of existing contracts in violation of article I, section 10, and arbitrarily and unreasonably deprives plaintiffs of rights, liberties, and freedoms protected under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We conclude that those contentions cannot be sustained.

The amendment specifically provides: ‘Sec. 13. No person shall be denied employment because of membership in or affiliation with, or resignation or expulsion from a labor organization or because of refusal to join or affiliate with a labor organization; nor shall any individual or corporation or association of any kind enter into any contract, written or oral, to exclude persons from employment because of membership in or nonmembership in a labor organization. Sec. 14. The term ‘labor organization’ means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work. Sec. 15. This article is self-executing and shall supersede all provisions in conflict therewith; legislation may be enacted to facilitate its operation but no law shall limit or restrict the provisions hereof.'

At the outset it should be stated that we are not permitted to base our decision of the issues upon a judicial interpretation of the wisdom of its adoption. Lennox v. Housing Authority of City of Omaha, 137 Neb. 582, 290 N.W. 451,291 N.W. 100. We are confronted primarily with a question of sovereign power. As stated in the opinion of Chief Justice Taney in the License Cases, 5 How. 504, 582, 12 L.Ed. 256: ‘Upon this question the object and motive of the State are of no importance, and cannot influence the decision. It is a question of power.’ See, also, Carpenters & Joiners Union v. Ritter's Cafe, 315 U.S. 722, 62 S.Ct. 807, 86 L.Ed. 1143.

In Arizona Employers' Liability Cases, 250 U.S. 400, 419, 39 S.Ct. 553, 555, 63 L.Ed. 1058, 6 A.L.R. 1537, it was said: ‘The states are left with a wide range of legislative discretion, notwithstanding the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment; and their conclusions respecting the wisdom of their legislative acts are not reviewable by the courts.’

In Hennington v. Georgia, 163 U.S. 299, 16 S.Ct. 1086, 1088, 41 L.Ed. 166, it was said: ‘The whole theory of our government, federal and state, is hostile to the idea that questions of legislative authority may depend * * * upon opinions of judges as to the wisdom or want of wisdom in the enactment of laws under powers clearly conferred upon the legislature.’

As recently as Olsen v. Nebraska, supra, [313 U.S. 236, 61 S.Ct. 865] the Supreme Court of the United States said: ‘We are not concerned, however, with the wisdom, need, or appropriateness of the legislation. Differences of opinion on that score suggest a choice which ‘should be left where * * * it was left by the Constitution-to the states and to Congress.’'

In S. Buchsbaum & Co. v. Beman, D. C., 14 F.Supp. 444, 447, it was said: ‘Every possible presumption is in favor of the validity of the statute, and this continues until the contrary is shown beyond a rational doubt. In no doubtful case should a legislative act be pronounced contrary to the Constitution. One branch of the government cannot...

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21 practice notes
  • Messner v. Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, Intern. Union of America, Local 256
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 7, 1960
    ...art. XV, §§ 13, 14, 15, adopted in 1946, upheld in Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129 v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co. (1948), 149 Neb. 507 (31 N.W.2d 477), affirmed, Lincoln Union v. Northwestern Co. (1949), 335 U.S. 525, 69 S.Ct. 251, 93 L.Ed. Nevada: Stats.1953, ch. 1; Building Trades......
  • State v. Bundrant, Nos. 2295
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • January 19, 1976
    ...See Kelly v. Washington, 302 U.S. 1, 58 S.Ct. 87, 82 L.Ed.2d 3 (1937); Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co., 149 Neb. 507, 31 N.W.2d 477 (1948); California v. Zook, 336 U.S. 725, 69 S.Ct. 841, 93 L.Ed. 1005 (1948); Allen-Bradley Local v. Wisconsin Employment Relation......
  • Dayton Co. v. Carpet, Linoleum & Resilient Floor Decorators' Union, Local No. 596, No. 34893.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • October 14, 1949
    ...persons from employment because they are or are not members of a union.10 In Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co., 149 Neb. 507, 31 N.W.2d 477, suit was brought for a declaratory judgment seeking an interpretation of this amendment declaring it to be unconstitutional......
  • Neb. Mid-State Reclamation Dist. v. Hall Cnty., No. 32702.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • February 24, 1950
    ...636, 150 A.L.R. 129;Sommerville v. Johnson, 149 Neb. 167, 30 N.W.2d 577;Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron and Metal Co., 149 Neb. 507, 31 N.W.2d 477, affirmed in 335 U.S. 525, 69 S.Ct. 251, 93 L.Ed. 212;Dorrance v. County of Douglas, 149 Neb. 685, 32 N.W.2d 202. In the light ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Messner v. Journeymen Barbers, Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, Intern. Union of America, Local 256
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 7, 1960
    ...art. XV, §§ 13, 14, 15, adopted in 1946, upheld in Lincoln Federal Labor Union No. 19129 v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co. (1948), 149 Neb. 507 (31 N.W.2d 477), affirmed, Lincoln Union v. Northwestern Co. (1949), 335 U.S. 525, 69 S.Ct. 251, 93 L.Ed. Nevada: Stats.1953, ch. 1; Building Trades......
  • State v. Bundrant, Nos. 2295
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alaska (US)
    • January 19, 1976
    ...See Kelly v. Washington, 302 U.S. 1, 58 S.Ct. 87, 82 L.Ed.2d 3 (1937); Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co., 149 Neb. 507, 31 N.W.2d 477 (1948); California v. Zook, 336 U.S. 725, 69 S.Ct. 841, 93 L.Ed. 1005 (1948); Allen-Bradley Local v. Wisconsin Employment Relation......
  • Dayton Co. v. Carpet, Linoleum & Resilient Floor Decorators' Union, Local No. 596, No. 34893.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • October 14, 1949
    ...persons from employment because they are or are not members of a union.10 In Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron & Metal Co., 149 Neb. 507, 31 N.W.2d 477, suit was brought for a declaratory judgment seeking an interpretation of this amendment declaring it to be unconstitutional......
  • Neb. Mid-State Reclamation Dist. v. Hall Cnty., No. 32702.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • February 24, 1950
    ...636, 150 A.L.R. 129;Sommerville v. Johnson, 149 Neb. 167, 30 N.W.2d 577;Lincoln Federal Labor Union v. Northwestern Iron and Metal Co., 149 Neb. 507, 31 N.W.2d 477, affirmed in 335 U.S. 525, 69 S.Ct. 251, 93 L.Ed. 212;Dorrance v. County of Douglas, 149 Neb. 685, 32 N.W.2d 202. In the light ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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