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The law of the employment of labor online

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» Watts V. Commonwealth, 106 Va. 851, 56 S.E. 223.


move from one state to another, impaired the natural right
to labor, and was class legislation without a reasonable basis,
were all disallowed by the Supreme Court ; * nor would this
court impute prohibitive intent to the law. The courts of
states having laws of this class follow this decision,^ which
itself was in affirmation of a case decided by the supreme court
of Georgia.^

In this connection may be mentioned statutes of a few states
forbidding superintendents, foremen, and others who employ
and discharge workmen, to ask for or receive fees or gratuities
for giving employment or continuing employees in service*

Section 109. Bureaus of Labor. — Offices exist in most of the
United States as a part of the administrative force of the state,
whose duty it is to collect industrial statistics, investigate
conditions of employment, inspect factories and other work
places, administer and enforce the laws enacted for the protec-
tion of labor, and seek to improve the condition of manual
laborers in general. The heads of such bureaus or offices are
usually known as commissioners, and are sometimes appointed
by the governor and sometimes elected by popular vote. The
work of factory inspection, mine inspection, the enforcement of
child and woman labor laws, the mediation and conciliation of
labor disputes, and the conduct of free public employment offices
are some of the administrative duties with which the com-
missioners of labor may be charged in the various states. In the

> WUliams v. Fears, 179 U.S. 270, 21 Sup. Ct. 128.

* State V. Napier, supra; State v. Roberson, 136 N.C. 587. 48 S.E. 595.
» Williams v. Fears. 110 Ga. 584, 35 S.E. 699.

* Conn.. G.S.. sec. 4698 ; Fla.. G.S.. sec. 3743 (employment of longshoremen) ;
Mont., Acts 1907, ch. 52 ; Nev.. Acts 1909, ch. 25 ; Pa., B. Dig., p. 457, sec. 85 ;
Utah, Acts 1909, ch. 52.


carrying out of this work they may be required to prosecute
employers and proprietors who disregard the statutes or the
orders of the commissioners and their inspecting force; they
may also be required to defend in actions brought by persons
who feel themselves aggrieved by such statutes or orders. It is
only in this indirect connection therefore that bureaus of labor
call for mention here, the laws which they enforce having been
already noted under their respective heads.

The National Bureau of Labor is charged with the adminis-
tration of no laws, its functions being investigatory only; the
single exception to this rule lies in the fact that the administra-
tion of the federal compensation act (see sec. 99) is delegated
in large part to this bureau by the head of the Department of
Commerce and Labor, to whom the statute is by its terms com-
mitted for enforcement. The Commissioner of Labor also acts
with a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission or of
the Court of Commerce designated by the President, in efforts to
mediate in labor disputes affecting interstate common carriers.
(See sec. 128.)



Section 1 10. Nature. — Associations of workingmen, whether
members of single trades or of wider industrial groups, are
the result of a purpose to procure for their members benefits
that are conceived to be better obtainable by concerted action
than by individuals acting singly. Such associations operate
by way of agreement, each member giving over in part his own
freedom of action to the vAW and choice of the organization in
exchange for the benefits and protection proposed to be derived
from his membership therein. To the extent of the scope of such
agreements they operate as a restraint on the free action of the
individual in disposing of his own labor, and in a resultant de-
gree, on the free course of employment.

Efforts to better the conditions of employment, including the
subjects of wages, hours of labor, shop rules, and the persormel
of the working force, are uniformly held to be la^vful by the
courts of this country, and the fact of combination in nowise
affects the fact of la^vfulness, although the power of the asso-
ciated members is far greater than the mere sum of the indivi-
dual forces comprising the association, and though there is a
measure of restraint on trade.* With the exception of a very
few early and entirely repudiated cases, this has always been the

» Master Stevedores' Ass'n. v. Walsh, 2 Daly 1 (N.Y.) ; Carew r. Ruther-
ford. 106 Mass. 1, 8 Am. Rep. 287; Union P. R. Co. v. Ruef, 120 Fed. 102 : Na-
tional Protective Ass'n. v. Cumraings, 170 N.Y. 315.63 N.E. 369; Arthur v.
Oakes. 63 Fed. 320, 11 CCA. 209 ; Hopkins v. U.S., 171 U.S. 578, 19 Sup. Ct. 40.



rule in the United States, while in many states, and by federal
enactment, the lawfulness of labor associations is declared by
statute ; ^ special provisions may also be made for their incor-

This broad statement as to the legality of associations and
agreements must be qualified as soon as the conduct of third
persons is made the subject of regulation or attempted regu-
lation,^ since one man's rights end where another's begin, though
at what point this line is to be drawn has been the subject of
numerous divergent opinions ; ■* nor can a man lawfully bind
himself irrevocably to a surrender of his own choice and will.
In other words, the voluntary character of the association must
be maintained, and excessive fines or forfeitures to compel the
observance of membership agreements cannot be enforced at
law, even against the party making them.^ The preservation of

iCal., Acta 1903. ch. 289; Colo., A.S., sec. 1295; N.Y., Con. L., ch. 40.
BCC. 582 ; Pa., B. P. Dig., p. 484, sees. 72, 73.

« Iowa, Code, sees. 1642, 1643 ; La., R.L., sec. 677. Acts 1890, No. 50 ; Mass.,
R.L., ch. 125, sees. 13-16 ; U.S., 30 Stat. 424, Comp. St., p. 3204.

« U.S. V. Debs, 63 Fed. 436, 64 Fed. 724, 65 Fed. 210 ; In re Debs, 158 U.S. 564,
15 Sup. Ct. 900 ; Loewe v. Lawlor, 208 U.S. 274, 28 Sup. Ct. 301 ; Pickett v.
Walsh, 192 Mass. 572, 78 N.E. 753.

* The general principle seems to be well expressed in a case (Curran v. Galen,
152 N.Y. 33, 46 N.E. 297), in which a nonunion employee was suing to recover
damages for his discharge made in pursuance of an agreement that only union
men should be employed. In this case the court said : " Public policy and the
interests of society favor the utmost freedom in the citizen to pursue his lawful
trade or calling, and if the purpose of an organization or combination of working-
men be to hamper or restrict that freedom, and, through contracts or arrange-
ments with employers, to coerce other workingmen to become members of the
organization and to come under its rules and conditions, under the penalty of
the loss of their positions and of deprivation of employment, then that purpose
seems clearly unlawful, and militates against the spirit of our government and
the nature of our institutions."

» Martell v. White, 185 Mass. 255, 69 N.E. 1085 ; Boutwell v. Marr, 71 Vt. 1,
42 Atl. 607; Willcut & Sons Co. v. Bricklayers' Ben. P.U., 200 Mass. 110, 85
N.E. 897 ; Gatzow v. Buening, 106 Wis. 1, 81 N.W. 1003.


a reasonable degree of liberty of action on the part of the mem-
bers of organizations, other workmen, employers, and the public
generally would appear to be the fundamental obligation which
combinations of the sort under consideration should be required
to meet.^ The fact is not overlooked in this connection that

' In the case of Martell v. White, cited above, a voluntary association of gran-
ite manufacturers had agreed to limit their business transactions to members of
the association, under a penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars. Martell,
a quarrjinan, who was not a member of the association, complained of loss of
trade by reason of the agreement. Members of the association had in fact
dealt with him until the enforcement of penalties caused them to cease. The trial
court ruled that Martell had no ground of action, but on appeal it was held that
though the end sought, i.e., the advancement of the business interests of the
members, was not illegal, the fact that there was arbitrary and artificial inter-
ference with the choice and acts of the members of the association, afforded suffi-
cient grounds to support an action. The coercive system of fines, enforced by a
tribunal not legally constituted, even though assented to in the original agree-
ment, was held to result in illegal restraint, used as it was to enforce a right, not
absolute, but conditional, and inconsistent with the conditions upon which the
right rests. The case of Boutwell v. Marr was cited in this case, the circum-
stances having been quite similar. In the Boutwell case the court said : "The
law cannot be compelled, by any initial agreement of an associate member, to
treat him as one having no choice but that of the majority, nor as a willing par-
ticipant in whatever action may be taken. The voluntary acceptance of by-
laws providing for the imposition of coercive fines does not make them legal and
collectible, and the standing threat of their imposition may properly be classed
with the ordinary threat of suits upon groundless claims."

While the above cases are not those of combinations of workingmcn, the prin-
ciples of the Martell case were directly applied to a labor organization seeking
to enforce a strike order by fines on members unwilling to leave their employ-
ment (Willcutt

Online LibraryLindley Daniel ClarkThe law of the employment of labor → online text (page 18 of 32)