American Steel Foundries v. Tri-City Trades Council,
257 U.S. 184 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

American Steel Foundries v. Tri-City Trades Council, 257 U.S. 184 (1921)

American Steel Foundries v. Tri-City Central Trades Council

No. 2

Argued January 17, 1919

Restored to docket for reargument June 1, 1920

Reargued October 5, 1920

Restored to docket for reargument June 6, 1921

Reargued October 4, 5, 1921

Decided December 5, 1921

257 U.S. 184


1. A decree of injunction in a labor controversy was entered in the district court before the date of the Clayton Act, c. 323, 38 Stat. 738, but was pending on appeal in the circuit court of appeals when the act was approved. Held that the plaintiff had no vested right in the decree, and that the act was to be regarded in determining the appeal. P. 257 U. S. 201.

2. The irreparable injury to property referred to in the first paragraph of § 20 of the Clayton Act, supra, includes injury to the business of an employer. P. 257 U. S. 202.

3. The second paragraph of § 20 of the Clayton Act does not apply to a dispute between an employer and persons who are neither ex-employees nor seeking employment. Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U. S. 443. Held, in this case, that only those defendants who left the plaintiff's employ when a strike was called

Page 257 U. S. 185

by the defendant labor union, as distinguished from those who had been employed but were laid off some months previously and those who had not been in the employment, could invoke § 20 in their behalf. P. 257 U. S. 202.

4. The Clayton Act, § 20, in forbidding injunctions to restrain employees, recent or expectant, from the use of peaceful persuasion in promotion of their side of the controversy, or from obtaining or communicating information in any place where they may lawfully be, merely declares and stabilizes what was always the best equity practice. P. 257 U. S. 203.

5. Workmen have the right to work for whom they will and to go freely to and from their place of labor undisturbed by annoying importunities or by the intimidation of numbers, and their employer has a right, incident to his property and business, that they have free access to the place where the business is conducted. P. 257 U. S. 203.

6. The "picketing" of an employer's plant by groups of men stationed near the points of ingress and egress and in neighboring streets, who importunately intercepted the workmen of the employer or others seeking employment, and whose activities collected crowds of bystanders and resulted in personal violence, held unlawful, and to be enjoined eo nomine, without adding the words "in a threatening or intimidating manner." Pp. 257 U. S. 204, 257 U. S. 207.

7. Such "picketing" creates a condition of intimidation in which there can be no peaceable communication of information or peaceable persuasion in the sense of the Clayton Act. P. 257 U. S. 205.

8. An injunction for the protection of an employer in a strike controversy should be adapted to the facts of the particular case, safeguarding his rights while affording to ex-employees and others properly acting with them opportunity, consistent with peace and law, to observe who are still working for the employer, to communicate with them, and to persuade them to join his opponents. Held, in this case, that the strikers and their sympathizers should be limited to one representative for each point of ingress and egress at the plant, and that all others should be enjoined from congregating or loitering about the plant or in neighboring streets affording access thereto, that such representatives should have the right of observation, communication, and persuasion, avoiding abuse, libel, or threats, and in their efforts singly should not obstruct an unwilling listener by importunate following or dogging of his steps. P. 257 U. S. 206.

Page 257 U. S. 186

9. An injunction broadly forbidding ex-employees from persuading employees and would-be employee to leave or stay out of the employment conflicts with the Clayton Act, supra. P. 257 U. S. 208.

10. Where the member of a local labor union, though not ex-employees within the Clayton Act, have reason to expect reemployment at a plant where wage have been reduced, interference by them and their union by peaceable persuasion and appeal to induce a strike against the lowered wages is not malicious or without lawful excuse, and the principle against malicious enticement of laborers does not apply. P. 257 U. S. 208. Hitchman Coal & Coke Co. v. Mitchell, 245 U. S. 229, and Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U. S. 443, distinguished.

238 F. 728 reversed in part and affirmed in part.

Review of a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed, with important modifications, a decree of injunction rendered by the district court at the suit of the present petitioner against the respondent labor union and individuals.

Page 257 U. S. 193

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