International Association of Machinists v. Street

PETITIONER: International Association of Machinists, et al.
RESPONDENT: S. B. Street, et al.
LOCATION: Superior Court of Bibb County

DOCKET NO.: 4
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: Supreme Court of Georgia

CITATION: 367 US 740 (1961)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1960
REARGUED: Jan 17, 1961 / Jan 18, 1961
DECIDED: Jun 19, 1961
GRANTED: Oct 12, 1959

ADVOCATES:
E. Smythe Gambrell - for the appellees
J. Lee Rankin - Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as intervenor
Lester P. Schoene - for the appellants
Milton Kramer - for the appellants

Facts of the case

Several labor unions entered into a union shop agreement that authorized spending union funds to support political causes. Many union employees opposed those causes and sued to enjoin enforcement of the union shop agreement. The employees argued that forcing union members to fund political activities they disagree with unconstitutionally restrained free speech. The Superior Court of Bibb County granted the injunction and the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed.

Question

Does the union shop agreement authorizing the spending of union funds on political causes, regardless of the objections of its members, violate the First Amendment?

Media for International Association of Machinists v. Street

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - January 18, 1961 in International Association of Machinists v. Street
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 21, 1960 in International Association of Machinists v. Street
Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - January 17, 1961 (Part 2) in International Association of Machinists v. Street

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - January 17, 1961 (Part 1) in International Association of Machinists v. Street

Earl Warren:

Number 4 on the docket, International Association of Machinists, et al, Appellants, versus S. B. Street et al.

Mr. Schoene.

Lester P. Schoene:

Mr. Chief Justice, may the Court please.

In view of the extensive consideration that this case has already received at the last term, I will not burden the Court with any detail recital of its prior procedural history.

Case is here on appeal from a final judgment of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

The Court's opinion is found in the record at page 249 and the judgment it entered at page 270 of the record.

That judgment affirmed the final judgment of the Superior Court of Bibb County, Georgia, which is found at page 101 of the record.

The Superior Court found that Section 2, (eleventh) of the Railway Labor Act, that is the statute of 19 -- January, 1951, which authorized union shop agreements to be made or permitted union shop agreements to be made between railroad subject to that Act and labor unions subject to that Act.

The Superior Court found that section of the law to be unconstitutional.

It therefore enjoined the enforcement of two union shop agreements on the rail -- on the Southern Railroad, each embracing some eleven, twelve different organizations, enjoined their enforcement permanently.

Those agreements are identical in terminology except for reference to parties with the union shop agreement that was before this Court in Railway Employes' Department against Hanson, 351 U.S. 225 in which this Court unanimously sustained the validity of Section 2, Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act and upheld the validity of the agreements made pursuant to them.

And which, as I say, was identical to the agreements here involved.

Now, I would like first to address myself in summary form to the facts that were developed in this very exhaustive and voluminous record.

The evidence in the trial court shows, and these facts are stated a little more at length in our original brief at pages 11 to 15.

Felix Frankfurter:

Have you got a new brief, Mr. Shcoene?

Lester P. Schoene:

We filed a response to the Solicitor General's brief and a further replied to the brief on reargument filed by the appellees.

The evidence in the case shows that these unions, who are defendants in the case, in addition, to their normal and predominant function on activities of negotiating rates of pay, rules, working conditions, collective bargaining agreements of various sorts, administering such agreements, policing them, handling grievances under them.

In addition to that, they do engage in certain other activities through such institutions as the American Federation of Labor-CIO, the Railway Labor Executives Association, Railway Labor's Political League.

They engage in various legislative and political activities, educational activities, and some of the individual unions support from time, legislative representatives at both state and national levels, whose function is to promote or oppose legislation pending before Congress or the state legislatures.

Collectively, they participate in the publication of the newspaper labor which advocates various ideas and promotes various processes and publishes news selectively addressed to people interested in labor.

The individual organizations also --

Potter Stewart:

A daily newspaper?

Lester P. Schoene:

I beg your pardon, sir.

Potter Stewart:

Is that a daily newspaper?

Lester P. Schoene:

No, it's a weekly.

Potter Stewart:

Weekly newspaper.

Lester P. Schoene:

And in addition, these organizations have their own individual magazine, generally published monthly.

In those magazines, they publish news of interest to their membership and advocate various political and educational objectives.

The funds that are used for these purposes, subscriptions to newspaper labor sometimes which were bought by the unions, derived from the general dues, initiation fees and -- of the unions.

Insofar as assessments are concerned, although the union shop agreement and Section 2, Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act, both refer to membership being conditioned only upon the payment of the uniform, fees, dues, and assessments, regularly required as a condition of membership.