Longshoremen v. Allied Int'l, Inc.
Annotate this Case
456 U.S. 212 (1982)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Longshoremen v. Allied Int'l, Inc., 456 U.S. 212 (1982)
International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO v.
Allied International, Inc.
Argued January 18, 1982
Decided April 20, 1982
456 U.S. 212
Respondent is an American importer of Russian wood products, and had contracts with an American shipper for shipment of the products from the Soviet Union to American ports. The shipper, in turn, employed a stevedoring company to unload its ships. The stevedore's employees were members of petitioner longshoremen's union (hereafter petitioner). Petitioner, as a protest against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, refused to handle cargoes arriving from or destined for the Soviet Union. As a result, respondent's shipments and business were disrupted completely. Respondent then brought an action in Federal District Court for damages under § 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act, claiming that petitioner's refusal to unload respondent's shipments constituted an illegal secondary boycott under § 8(b)(4)(B) of the National Labor Relations Act. Section 8(b)(4)(B) prohibits a labor union from engaging in activities designed to influence individuals employed by "any person engaged in commerce or in an industry affecting commerce," and from inducing such employees to refuse to handle goods with the object of forcing any person "to cease using, selling, handling, transporting, or otherwise dealing" in the products of, or "to cease doing business" with, another person. The District Court dismissed the complaint, holding that petitioner's boycott was a purely political, primary boycott of Russian goods, and thus not within the scope of § 8(b)(4)(B). The Court of Appeals reversed.
Held: Petitioner's boycott was an illegal secondary boycott under § 8(b) (4)(B). Pp. 456 U. S. 218-227.
(a) Petitioner's activity was "in commerce" and within the scope of the National Labor Relations Act. Its refusal to unload respondent's shipments in no way affected the maritime operations of foreign ships, was not aimed at altering the terms of employment of foreign crews, and did not seek to extend the bill of rights of American workers and employers to foreign seamen or shipowners. Accordingly, the longstanding tradition of restraint in applying United States laws to foreign ships is irrelevant.
Benz v. Compania Naviera Hidalgo, 353 U. S. 138; Windward Shipping (London) Ltd. v. American Radio Assn., 415 U. S. 104; and American Radio Assn. v. Mobile S.S. Assn., 419 U. S. 215, distinguished. Pp. 456 U. S. 219-222.
(b) By its terms, § 8(b)(4)(B)'s prohibition against secondary boycotts applies to the facts of this case. Petitioner's sole complaint was with the Soviet Union's foreign and military policy, and however commendable its objectives might have been, the effect of its action was to impose a heavy burden on neutral employers. It is just such a burden that the secondary boycott provisions were designed to prevent. Pp. 456 U. S. 222-224.
(c) That the specific purpose of petitioner's action was not to halt business between respondent, its shipper, and the stevedore, but to free union members from handling goods from an objectionable source, does not place the action outside the prohibition of secondary boycotts. When a purely secondary boycott reasonably can be expected to threaten neutral parties with ruin or substantial loss, the pressure on those parties must be viewed as at least one of the objects of the boycott, or the statutory prohibition would be rendered meaningless. P. 456 U. S. 224.
(d) Neither is it a defense to the application of § 8(b)(4)(B) that the reason for petitioner's boycott was not a labor dispute with a primary employer, but a political dispute with a foreign nation. Section 8(b)(4)(B) contains no exception for "political" secondary boycotts, and its legislative history does not indicate that political disputes should be excluded from its scope. Pp. 456 U. S. 224-226.
(e) That respondent has alleged a violation of § 8(b)(4)(B) does not infringe the First Amendment rights of petitioner or its members. Conduct designed not to communicate, but to coerce, merits little consideration under that Amendment. Pp. 456 U. S. 226-227.
640 F.2d 1368, affirmed.
POWELL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous court.