Jacksonville Bulk Terminals v. Longshoremen,
457 U.S. 702 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Jacksonville Bulk Terminals v. Longshoremen, 457 U.S. 702 (1982)

Jacksonville Bulk Terminals, Inc. v.

International Longshoremen's Association

No. 80-1045

Argued January 18, 1982

Decided June 24, 1982

457 U.S. 702


After President Carter announced certain trade restrictions with the Soviet Union because of its intervention in Afghanistan, respondent International Longshoremen's Association announced that its members would not handle any cargo bound to, or coming from, the Soviet Union. When an affiliated local union refused to load certain goods (not included in the Presidential embargo) bound for the Soviet Union, petitioners (hereafter collectively referred to as the Employer) brought suit in Federal District Court against respondents, the international union, its officers and agents, and the local union (hereafter collectively referred to as the Union), pursuant to § 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act. The Employer alleged that the Union's work stoppage violated the terms of a collective bargaining agreement which contained a no-strike clause and a provision requiring arbitration of disputes. As requested by the Employer, the court ordered the Union to arbitrate the question whether the work stoppage violated the collective bargaining agreement, and granted a preliminary injunction pending arbitration. The court reasoned that the political motivation behind the work stoppage rendered inapplicable § 4 of the Norris-La Guardia Act, which prohibits injunctions against strikes "in any case involving or growing out of any labor dispute." The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's order insofar as it required arbitration, but disagreed with the conclusion that the Norris-La Guardia Act was not applicable.


1. The Norris-La Guardia Act applies to this case, which involves a "labor dispute" even though the work stoppage was politically motivated. Pp. 457 U. S. 709-720.

(a) The plain language of the Act -- prohibiting injunctions in "any" labor dispute and defining "labor dispute" to include "any controversy concerning terms or conditions of employment" -- does not except labor disputes having their genesis in political protests. Here, the Employer sought injunctive relief as to the dispute over whether the work stoppage violated the no-strike clause of the bargaining agreement, not as to

Page 457 U. S. 703

the event that triggered the stoppage. The term "labor dispute" must not be narrowly construed, the critical element in determining whether the Act applies being whether, as here, "the employer-employee relationship [is] the matrix of the controversy." Columbia River Packers Assn. v. Hinton, 315 U. S. 143, 315 U. S. 147. The existence of noneconomic motives does not make the Act inapplicable. Pp. 457 U. S. 710-715.

(b) The legislative history of both the Norris-La Guardia Act and the 1947 amendments to the National Labor Relations Act indicates that the Norris-La Guardia Act was intended to apply to politically motivated work stoppages. Pp. 457 U. S. 715-719.

(c) The Norris-La Guardia Act's broad prohibitions will not be constricted, except in narrowly defined situations where accommodation of the Act to specific congressional policy is necessary. Pp. 457 U. S. 719-720.

2. Nor may the Union's work stoppage here be enjoined, pending arbitration, under the rationale of Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks, 398 U. S. 235, and Buffalo Forge Co. v. Steelworkers, 428 U. S. 397, on the asserted ground that the dispute underlying the stoppage is arbitrable under the collective bargaining agreement. While Boys Markets recognized an exception to the anti-injunction provisions of the Norris-La Guardia Act when the employer sought to enforce the union's contractual obligation to arbitrate grievances rather than to strike over them, Buffalo Forge makes it clear that a Boys Markets injunction pending arbitration may not issue unless the dispute underlying the work stoppage is arbitrable. Here the underlying dispute, whether viewed as an expression of the Union's "moral outrage" at Soviet military policy or as an expression of sympathy for the people of Afghanistan, is plainly not arbitrable under the collective bargaining agreement. Thus the strike may not be enjoined pending the arbitrator's ruling on the legality of the strike under the no-strike clause of the collective bargaining agreement. Pp. 457 U. S. 720-723.

626 F.2d 455, affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. O'CONNOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 457 U. S. 724. BURGER, C.J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which POWELL, J., joined, post, p. 457 U. S. 724. POWELL, J., post, p. 457 U. S. 729, and STEVENS, J., post, p. 457 U. S. 730, filed dissenting opinions.

Page 457 U. S. 704

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