Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255 v. Sax Enterprises, Inc.

PETITIONER: Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255
RESPONDENT: Sax Enterprises, Inc.
LOCATION: Sherry Frontenac

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)

CITATION: 358 US 270 (1959)
ARGUED: Nov 10, 1958
DECIDED: Jan 12, 1959

Arthur J. Goldberg - for the petitioners
David E. Feller - for the petitioners
Marion E. Sibley - for the respondents
Thomas H. Anderson - for the respondents

Facts of the case

In February of 1955, Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255 began an effort to organize employees at resort hotels in Miami and Miami Beach, Florida; these hotels wholly occupied a stretch of land from Collins Avenue to the Atlantic Ocean. The National Labor Relations Board, however, had a stated policy of refusing jurisdiction over hotel employees. Hence, the union did not petition the board for an election or certification.

In March, the union tried to establish a procedure to collectively bargain for the employees of the various hotels. It could not reach an agreement between the employee representatives from each hotel, so it addressed a letter to the Miami Beach Hotel Association requesting a conference. It also sent copies to each hotel and published copies in local newspapers. The Association -- which was not specifically authorized to bargain for its members -- did not answer the union’s request. In response, on April 13, 1955, the union began a strike at nine hotels, including the Sherry Frontenac.

The hotels filed for an injunction against the picketers. Of the nine cases, the district court tried seven separately, with each judge retaining jurisdiction over his particular case. In each of the seven cases, the trial judge held that there was not enough evidence of violence to justify enjoining the picketing on that basis. Before each court could address whether the unions were coercing hotel employees to unionize, however, the Florida Supreme Court intervened. On the basis of the hotels’ complaint, it held that the real purpose of the strike was indeed to coerce hotel employees to join the union, in violation of Florida law.


Did the Florida Supreme Court properly enjoin union hotel employees from picketing at twelve Miami resort hotels where the action was not under the explicit jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act?

Media for Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255 v. Sax Enterprises, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1958 (Part 2) in Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255 v. Sax Enterprises, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 10, 1958 (Part 1) in Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255 v. Sax Enterprises, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 5, Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255, et al., Petitioners, versus Sax Enterprises, Incorporated, et al., and Number 6, Hotel Employees Union, Local No. 255, et al. versus Harry Levy, et al.

Mr. -- Mr. Goldberg.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

These are 12 of 22 separate cases decided in identical per curiam decisions by the Supreme Court of Florida on March 15, 1957.

Each opinion in each case affirmed on the authority of another decision of the Supreme Court, Fontainebleau Hotel, 90 So.2d which is printed in the appendix page 49 of our brief decided February 1, 1957 an injunction against the peaceful picketing by the union, petitioner here, the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, a local of that organization of a Miami Beach or Miami Hotel.

There are nine of the 22 cases decided by the Supreme Court of Florida.

A labor dispute was settled by a negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement.

Later, I shall have some reference to a few more of the cases here in this connection.

Were the cases are nisi prius (Inaudible)

Arthur J. Goldberg:

No, they were tried before various courts.


Arthur J. Goldberg:

And I shall make reference to the various nisi prius orders, Mr. Justice Harlan.

Review was sought and granted in 12 of the cases on two separate petitions for certiorari, which are No. 5 and No. 6 as they now stand.

The 12 cases were along with the other that made up the 22.

They were briefed together in the Supreme Court of Florida.

I believe they present identical issues although there were separate records even though some of the trials were combined for convenience and although the findings and injunctional orders are not identical in the lower courts.

The final order were all orders of injunction pursuant to a decision of the Supreme Court even though it's different somewhat as I shall later explain.

The -- it is difficult with -- throughout the separate records and 12 separate proceedings to trace the course of this litigation which has an important bearing upon the case in this Court.

And in order to -- in some convenient way since a stipulation to consolidate it was not available because of the counsel on the other side thought were good and sufficient reason, I'm sure they were.

I thought it might be convenient for the Court to set out a litigation chronology.

And you may find it convenient as I make my argument to refer to that chronology.

It is contained in Appendix B through our brief, the green brief and sets out in quite graphic form the history of this litigation.

I shall have occasion to make reference to the history as we go along.

And I think Your Honors may find it, as I say, convenient to -- to examine this chronology.

First, let me address myself to the background of facts before turning to the course of the litigation.

In February 1955, the petitioner union, which organizes hotel and restaurant workers throughout the country, began a campaign to organize the employees in the service trades in the Miami Beach, Miami area in Florida.

The record in the case shows that while these, as the respondents probably goes in their answers and pleadings, are luxury hotels and as perhaps, we can recognize from the names of the hotels which are set forth from the chronology, there was a considerable background of dissatisfaction with the wages, hours and the poor working conditions of these hotels.

And consequently, the campaign for organization met with considerable success.

Now, normally, at this stage of the proceeding, the workers having been organized and the hotels themselves have engaged in an industry affecting commerce, the recourse would have been made by the union to the National Labor Relations Board for election and certification.

However, it was not available to the union because the National Labor Relations Board in the exercise of its alleged discretion, and this matter will come before this Court immediately following in case No. 21, where this is challenged by the union by way of a -- injunction proceeding to compel the Labor Board to take jurisdiction in this very -- this very dispute.