Wis. Labor Relations Bd. v. Fred Rueping Leather Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtWICKHEM
Citation279 N.W. 673,228 Wis. 473
Decision Date17 May 1938
PartiesWISCONSIN LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. FRED RUEPING LEATHER CO.

228 Wis. 473
279 N.W. 673

WISCONSIN LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
FRED RUEPING LEATHER CO.*

Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

May 17, 1938.


Appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court for Dane County; R. S. Cowie, Judge.

Action by the Wisconsin Labor Relations Board against the Fred Rueping Leather Company to enforce an order of the Labor Relations Board. From a judgment confirming an order of the Board, the defendant appeals.-[By Editorial Staff.]

Judgment modified, and, as so modified, affirmed.

This was an action commenced on August 28, 1937, by the Wisconsin Labor Relations Board, plaintiff, against Fred Rueping Leather Company, defendant, for the purpose of enforcing an order of the plaintiff board. The action was tried to the court and a judgment entered on November 16, 1937, confirming the order of the Wisconsin Labor Relations Board. The material facts will be stated in the opinion.

[279 N.W. 674]

Lines, Spooner & Quarles, of Milwaukee (Leo Mann and James T. Guy, both of Milwaukee, of counsel), for appellant.

Orland S. Loomis, Atty. Gen., and N. P. Feinsinger, Sp. Counsel, and William G. Rice, Jr., Sp. Counsel, both of Madison, for respondent.


Joseph A. Padway, of Milwaukee, and Burton A. Zorn and Eugene Cotton, both of New York City, amici curiae.

WICKHEM, Justice.

On June 8, 1937, plaintiff, hereafter called the Wisconsin Board, caused a complaint to be served upon defendant at the request of the Textile Workers' Organizing Committee of the Committee for Industrial Organization and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, a branch of the Committee for Industrial Organization, charging that defendant had interfered with, restrained, and coerced employees in the exercise of their rights of self-organization to prevent employees of defendant from bargaining collectively as provided in

[279 N.W. 675]

sections 111.07 and 111.08(1) of the Wisconsin Labor Relations Act; that defendant initiated a company union and contributed financial support thereto; that defendant discriminated in respect to hire or terms of tenure or other conditions of employment to discourage membership in the Committee for Industrial Organization and encourage membership in the company union; that defendant discharged one Richard Assaf because of activities on behalf of the Committee for Industrial Organization and to discourage membership in that organization; that it discriminated against Gilbert Andres for similar reasons and has threatened others of its employees with discharge if they joined or retained membership in the Committee for Industrial Organization; that defendant secured one Lawrence Commins to act in its behalf to keep under surveillance activities of the Committee for Industrial Organization; and that defendant, by its officers and agents, spied upon the activities and meetings of the employees; and that each of the foregoing constituted unfair labor practice. Over defendant's objection to the jurisdiction of the Wisconsin Board, the board proceeded to consider the merits of the charges and filed findings of fact, which for the moment may simply be characterized as sustaining the charges. The order appealed from directs the defendant to cease and desist (1) from interfering with the organizational rights of employees, and (2) from discouraging membership in outside unions. The order also requires defendant to take the following affirmative action: (1) Post notices stating (a) that defendant will cease and desist in accordance with the above portion of the order; and (b) that its employees are free to join any bona fide employee organization formed for collective bargaining, and that their status as employees will not be affected by such action; (2) restore Richard Assaf to his employment and pay him the sum he would have earned but for his discharge, less the amount he may have earned in other employment between the date of discharge and the date of reemployment; and (3) notify the board in writing on or before August 19, 1937, the steps defendant has taken to comply with the order. On August 14, 1937, defendant commenced an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin against the Wisconsin Board praying that the board be enjoined from further proceedings against defendant to enforce its order. Section 266 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. § 380, provides that if before final hearing of an application for an injunction to restrain the enforcement of any state statute or the execution of any order made by an administrative board acting under a state statute, a suit shall have been begun in the state court to enforce such statute or order accompanied by a stay of such order under the state statute pending the determination of such suit in the state court, all proceedings to restrain the execution of the statute brought in any court of the United States shall be stayed. This action to enforce the order of the Wisconsin Board was brought in the circuit court for Dane county on August 28, 1937, and that court entered an order staying the enforcement of the order. This was followed by a stay of proceedings in the federal court. This action then proceeded to judgment as heretofore noted.

[1] The principal contention of defendant is that the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq., applies to defendant, covers the same ground as the Wisconsin Labor Relations Act, St.1937, § 111.01 et seq., and completely covers the field of labor relations of corporations engaged in interstate commerce; that it supersedes the state act; and that the Wisconsin Board had no jurisdiction to enter the order which it seeks to enforce. There is no contention that defendant, the business of which is largely in interstate commerce, is not subject to the national act, and the sole question is whether the National Labor Relations Act excludes application of the Wisconsin act to unfair labor practices so affecting interstate commerce as to bring them within the operation of the national act. It is evident that the enactment of the National Labor Relations Act cannot and does not supersede the Wisconsin act as to labor relations which do not so affect interstate commerce as to bring them within the commerce clause. As to such relations, the police power of the state of Wisconsin remains unimpaired, and it is beyond the competency of Congress to impair it. Any concessions in this direction would mean the end of the federal system. In the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 57 S.Ct. 615, 81 L.Ed. 893, 108 A.L.R. 1352, the National Labor Relations Act was challenged as an attempt to regulate industry, thus invading the reserved powers of the states over their local concerns. It was stated by the court (page 620): “If this conception

[279 N.W. 676]

of terms, intent and consequent inseparability were sound, the act would necessarily fall by reason of the limitation upon the federal power which inheres in the constitutional grant, as well as because of the explicit reservation of the Tenth Amendment. *** The authority of the federal government may not be pushed to such an extreme as to destroy the distinction, which the commerce clause itself establishes, between commerce ‘among the several States' and the internal concerns of a state. That distinction between what is national and what is local in the activities of commerce is vital to the maintenance of our federal system.”

[2] The power of the state of Wisconsin to subject labor relations to regulation is based upon the police power; that of the federal government to deal with the same subject is grounded upon and limited by the commerce clause, and is sustained upon the theory that strikes, boycotts, and other disturbances arising from labor disputes in industries engaged in interstate commerce so proximately obstruct and burden interstate commerce as to bring labor relations in such industries within the power of Congress. In the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. Case, supra, it was said (page 624 of 57 S.Ct.): “The congressional authority to protect interstate commerce from burdens and obstructions is not limited to transactions which can be deemed to be an essential part of a ‘flow’ of interstate or foreign commerce. Burdens and obstructions may be due to injurious action springing from other sources. The fundamental principle is that the power to regulate commerce is the power to enact ‘all appropriate legislation’ for its ‘protection and advancement.”

[3][4] The state may, therefore, regulate labor relations in the interests of the peace, health, and order of the state, and the federal government may regulate this relationship to the extent that unregulated it tends to obstruct or burden interstate commerce. Obviously, a possibility of conflict between these powers exists only as to the portion of the field with which Congress has competency to deal. In the absence of a federal statute either dealing with or preempting this field, the police power of the state has full operation, provided no undue or discriminatory burdens are put upon interstate commerce.

In South Carolina State Highway Department v. Barnwell Bros. Inc., 58 S.Ct. 510, 82 L.Ed. 734, the court, speaking through Mr. Justice Stone, states (page 513):

“While the constitutional grant to Congress of power to regulate interstate commerce has been held to operate of its own force to curtail state power in some measure, it did not forestall all state action affecting interstate commerce. Ever since Willson v. Black Bird Creek Marsh Co., 2 Pet. 245, 7 L.Ed. 412, and Cooley v. Board of Port Wardens, 12 How. 299, 13 L.Ed. 996, it has been recognized that there are matters of local concern, the regulation of which unavoidably involves some regulation of interstate commerce but which, because of their local character and their number and diversity, may never be fully dealt with by Congress. Notwithstanding the commerce clause, such regulation in the...

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47 practice notes
  • Tetra Tech EC, Inc. v. Wis. Dep't of Revenue, No. 2015AP2019
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 26, 2018
    ...to review the facts, coupled with the express provision that the findings, "if supported by evidence in the record," shall be conclusive. 228 Wis. 473, 494, 279 N.W. 673 (1938).25 ¶37 We were not any more specific about how "due weight" consideration affects conclusions of law when we decid......
  • Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 6 Div. 234.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 25, 1944
    ...164, 295 N.W. 791. See also full discussion of the subject in Wisconsin Labor Relations Board v. Fred Rueping Leather Co., 228 Wis., 473, 279 N.W. 673, 117 A.L.R. 398. On review of the opinion in the Allen-Bradley case by the Supreme Court of the United States the ruling of the Wisconsin Co......
  • Burkhardt v. State, No. 7289
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • May 1, 1952
    ...839] Harvey Coal Corp. v. Pappas, 230 Ky. 108, 18 S.W.2d 958, 73 A.L.R. 473; Wisconsin Labor Relations Board v. Fred Rueping Leather Co., 228 Wis. 473, 279 N.W. 673, 117 A.L.R. 398; Pine v. State Industrial Commission, 148 Okl. 200, 298 P. 276, 78 A.L.R. 1287; Pigeon's Case, 216 Mass. 51, 1......
  • UNITED OFFICE AND PROFESSIONAL WKRS. v. Smiley, Civil Action No. 2755.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • April 21, 1948
    ...cases in the State Courts up to the time of the Bethlehem decision were Wisconsin Labor Relations Board v. Fred Rueping Leather Co., 1938, 228 Wis. 473, 488, 279 N.W. 673, 679, 681, 117 A.L.R. 398, "It seems to us a violent assumption that * * * Congress could have intended to exclude state......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
46 cases
  • Tetra Tech EC, Inc. v. Wis. Dep't of Revenue, No. 2015AP2019
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • June 26, 2018
    ...to review the facts, coupled with the express provision that the findings, "if supported by evidence in the record," shall be conclusive. 228 Wis. 473, 494, 279 N.W. 673 (1938).25 ¶37 We were not any more specific about how "due weight" consideration affects conclusions of law when we decid......
  • Alabama State Federation of Labor v. McAdory, 6 Div. 234.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 25, 1944
    ...164, 295 N.W. 791. See also full discussion of the subject in Wisconsin Labor Relations Board v. Fred Rueping Leather Co., 228 Wis., 473, 279 N.W. 673, 117 A.L.R. 398. On review of the opinion in the Allen-Bradley case by the Supreme Court of the United States the ruling of the Wisconsin Co......
  • Burkhardt v. State, No. 7289
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of North Dakota
    • May 1, 1952
    ...839] Harvey Coal Corp. v. Pappas, 230 Ky. 108, 18 S.W.2d 958, 73 A.L.R. 473; Wisconsin Labor Relations Board v. Fred Rueping Leather Co., 228 Wis. 473, 279 N.W. 673, 117 A.L.R. 398; Pine v. State Industrial Commission, 148 Okl. 200, 298 P. 276, 78 A.L.R. 1287; Pigeon's Case, 216 Mass. 51, 1......
  • UNITED OFFICE AND PROFESSIONAL WKRS. v. Smiley, Civil Action No. 2755.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. Western District of Pennsylvania
    • April 21, 1948
    ...cases in the State Courts up to the time of the Bethlehem decision were Wisconsin Labor Relations Board v. Fred Rueping Leather Co., 1938, 228 Wis. 473, 488, 279 N.W. 673, 679, 681, 117 A.L.R. 398, "It seems to us a violent assumption that * * * Congress could have intended to exclude state......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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