Marine Cooks & Stewards, AFL v. Panama Steamship Company

PETITIONER: Marine Cooks & Stewards, AFL
RESPONDENT: Panama Steamship Company
LOCATION: Superior Court of Bibb County

DOCKET NO.: 403
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 365 (1960)
ARGUED: Mar 02, 1960 / Mar 03, 1960
DECIDED: Apr 18, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Marine Cooks & Stewards, AFL v. Panama Steamship Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 02, 1960 in Marine Cooks & Stewards, AFL v. Panama Steamship Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 03, 1960 in Marine Cooks & Stewards, AFL v. Panama Steamship Company

Earl Warren:

-- Marine Cooks & Stewards, AFL, et al., Petitioner, versus Panama Steamship Company, Ltd., et al.

Mr. Mosser, you may proceed with the argument.

John D. Mosser:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.

May it please the Court.

The position of the respondents here is that there is no labor dispute within the meaning of the Norris-LaGuardia Act so as to deprive the District Court of jurisdiction to issue the interlocutory injunction which it did issue.

I would like to make clear at the outset that the basis upon which we make that contention is that the dispute was over terms and conditions of employment, a board of foreign flag vessel, only transiently in a United States court.

It is not a claim of special position for a foreign shipowner and some of the colloquy particularly between counsel and Mr. Justice Brennan yesterday, seemed to me to be turning on the question of a foreign shipowner in an American court.

I'd like to point out the difference between the owner of a foreign ship and a foreign shipowner.

One looks to the corporate owner, the other looks to the ship.

It might well be that you would have an American owner of a foreign flag vessel and we believe that such an American owner in court would be entitled to the same relief here as these respondents are.

It is not the position as a foreign shipowner, but as the owner of a foreign ship which centers around the question of whether there is a labor dispute because of the terms and conditions of employment aboard that ship.

Now, there is some question as -- in my mind as to just what the petitioners are claiming the labor dispute here is.

In response to a question for Mr. Justice Whittaker yesterday, counsel stated that there was no dispute with the crew members.

In the reply brief at page 5, the statement is made in the first full sentence at the top of the page after the quotation.

The petitioners in picketing were not seeking to change wages, hours or working conditions on the S. S. Nikolos.

In response to a question from the Chief Justice yesterday, counsel said that it would make no difference so far as the Norris-LaGuardia Act was concerned, if the wages here were not far below the American standar, which their members have aboard competing American flagships.

In fact, the position that counsel took yesterday was that they were here seeking to shut this foreign flag vessel out of this trade.

Now, as counsel admitted in --

Felix Frankfurter:

But if this weren't -- if -- let's forget, for the moment, the foreign relation aspect of the problem, would have -- would picketing by union in order to extend a membership by shutting out -- shutting out in the market on the -- on the Court, let's forget the foreign aspect, ships that carry foreigners and therefore not members of the American union, would that not be a labor dispute?

John D. Mosser:

I believe not, Mr. Justice Frankfurter.

I think that if they are seeking to represent the crew or to bargain with the owner over wages, hours or working conditions.

Felix Frankfurter:

Or to enlarge -- or to enlarge their clientele by having ships that -- with crews that are eligible and potentially would become members of their -- of their union.

John D. Mosser:

If --

Felix Frankfurter:

How does that different from the -- the labor dispute which seeks to enlarge the membership of the union?

John D. Mosser:

Well, if they were seeking to enlarge the membership of the union, if they were seeking to become the agent for these people and to have them join the union --

Felix Frankfurter:

Not for these people because they can't become members, they can't practically, I don't know about legally, practically, become bargaining representatives of these people for their foreigners.

John D. Mosser:

Then --

Felix Frankfurter:

They want to -- if -- if foreign carriers with foreign crews can't come into the port of Seattle or whatever it is, then the argument is that their hope is that business would be taken over by American-run ships.

John D. Mosser:

I -- I don't think it would be a labor dispute, Your Honor, anymore than, let me put this example.

The railroads have taken a great deal of business away.