Hanna Mining Company v. District 2, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO

PETITIONER: Hanna Mining Company
RESPONDENT: District 2, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO
LOCATION: Duluth Harbor Basin

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 382 US 181 (1965)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1965
DECIDED: Dec 06, 1965

Facts of the case

Hanna Mining Company owned and operated a fleet of cargo vessels. While in negotiations for a new collecting bargaining agreement, several Hanna marine engineers expressed that they no longer wanted their union to represent them. Negotiations broke down, and the union picketed one of Hanna's ships. This made it impossible for workers to unload the ship. Hanna petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to stop the picketing. The NLRB dismissed the petition because the engineers were "supervisors" as defined by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and could therefore not be "employees." The NLRA does not protect supervisors. Hanna then filed charges with the NLRB under the NLRA, alleging that the union induced a work stoppage through improper secondary pressure and engaged in improper organizational picketing. The NLRB dismissed the charges because the NLRA did not apply to unions that represent supervisors, and the union's conduct did not exceed the bounds of lawful picketing.

Hanna sybsequently filed suit in the Wisconsin Circuit Court for Douglas County, requesting injunctive relief against further picketing and against any attempts by the union to force representation on Hanna's engineers. The Circuit Court dismissed the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed the decision because that while the picketing was illegal under Wisconsin State law, it arguably violated the NLRA and so fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the NLRB.


Does the NLRA preempt the state's authority to enjoin a marine engineer union's picketing where the marine engineers are defined as supervisors and not employees?

Media for Hanna Mining Company v. District 2, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1965 in Hanna Mining Company v. District 2, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO

Earl Warren:

Number 7, Hanna Mining Company et al., Petitioner, versus District 2, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO, et al.

John H. Hanninen:

May it --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Hanninen.

John H. Hanninen:

May it please the Court.

The primary question involved in this case is whether the State Courts of Wisconsin can apply state law to regulate primary recognition picketing of marine engineers on petitioner's vessels after the National Labor Relations Board has initially determined that such engineers are supervisors within the meaning of the Federal National Labor Relations Act.

The General Counsel of the Board has determined that the regulatory scheme of the Act cannot be applied due to the supervisory status of the engineers and state law also prohibits this type of picketing.

Petitioner operates vessels on the Great Lakes, actually there are four companies who operate these vessels as an integrated fleet, with one of the petitioners, the Hanna Mining Company designated as the operating agent.

These ships transport cargos between various Great Lake's ports including American and Canadian ports and they are engaged in commerce within the meaning of the Act.

On these vessels, the petitioners employed marine engineers licensed by the Coast Guard who operate the engines and keep them in repair and also supervise the work of unlicensed seamen in their department.

The unlicensed seamen are represented in a bargaining unit which extends over all of these vessels by the United Steel Workers of America.

The petitioners had a labor agreement with the respondent MEBA covering the wages and working conditions of the engineers which expired on July 15th of 1962.

Negotiations were in progress for a new labor agreement in August of that year when virtually all of the marine engineers notified the petitioners in writing that they no longer desire to be represented by the MEBA for purposes of collective bargaining.

When this occurred, the petitioners immediately informed the MEBA and took the position that further collective bargaining should be suspended until the MEBA could by means of a secret ballot election conducted by an impartial third party demonstrated that they actually represented a majority of the engineers.

The MEBA declined and refused to agree to any election and had demanded that the petitioners resume collective bargaining and negotiate a labor contract which the petitioners refused to do.

On September 12 of that year, 1962 the MEBA commenced picketing petitioner's vessels.

The picketing commenced at the port of Duluth in Minnesota where one of petitioner's vessels was unloading a cargo of coal.

The MEBA pickets appeared on the scene with signs stating that the Hanna Mining Company, the operating agent for these vessels, was unfair, refuses to negotiate the contract, District 2, MEBA no dispute with other employer appended to the picket sign and the special receptacle for that purpose was a card with the name of the petitioner's vessels, the Joseph H. Thompson.

As a result of the picketing, the coal dock workers refused to unload the cargo from the steamer Thompson.

The picketing was commenced on that same day at the oil loading docks of the Great Northern Railway Company at Superior, Wisconsin about six miles away from the coal dock where the petitioner's vessels regularly load cargos who buy an ore.

The picketing also commenced in various other Great Lake's ports including Detroit, Cleveland, Ashtabula, and Buffalo with the same type of signs.

None of the engineers responded to the picketing, they all continued working.

The unlicensed seamen aboard petitioner's vessels also ignored this picketing and continued working steadily as did the other offices on this vessel.

Nevertheless, tug crews refused to render towing services to petitioner's vessels because of the picketing activity.

The coal dock workers persisted in a refusal to unload the cargo from petitioner's vessels at the coal dock in Duluth.

There were some short and minor work stoppages among the oil loading crews of the Great Northern Railway Company in Superior.

On September 12th, the date of the picketing started in 1962, petitioners filed an election petition with the Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board in Cleveland requesting the Board to conduct a representation election to determine whether or not the MEBA in fact represented a majority of the engineers.

The Regional Director dismissed the petition upon a finding that the engineers were supervisors and excluded from the coverage of the Act.

The ruling was appealed to the NLRB itself and was affirmed upon the same ground.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

How much of the hearing --

John H. Hanninen: