Marine Engineers Beneficial Association v. Interlake Steamship Company

PETITIONER: Marine Engineers Beneficial Association
RESPONDENT: Interlake Steamship Company
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962)

CITATION: 370 US 173 (1962)
ARGUED: Apr 16, 1962
DECIDED: Jun 11, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for Marine Engineers Beneficial Association v. Interlake Steamship Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 16, 1962 in Marine Engineers Beneficial Association v. Interlake Steamship Company

Earl Warren:

Number 166, Marine Engineers Beneficial Association et al., Petitioners, versus Interlake Steamship Company et al.

Mr. Pressman.

Lee Pressman:

May it please the Court.

We are here on a -- an appeal taken from the order of the Minnesota Supreme Court which affirmed an injunction issued by the court below that restrained peaceful picketing on the part of the petitioners involved in this case.

The petitioners are the National Marine Engineers Beneficial Association and an affiliated Local 101 both being unincorporated labor unions admitting into membership marine engineers who work on the self-propelled vessels under American flag on the deep sea, Great Lakes, the rivers and the inland harbors.

The respondent here or respondents namely two, the Interlake Steamship Company and the Pickands Mather, one is the owner and the other is the operating agent of a fleet of vessels on the Great Lakes.

They happened to be the second largest operator of vessels on the Great Lakes.

A dispute arose between the petitioners on the one hand and the respondents on the other with respect to the organizing or recognition of the marine engineers of the respondents.

It has been found below and there is no dispute that the Marine Engineers of the respondents are what is termed "supervisors" as defined under the National Labor Relations Act.

However, as a result of this dispute, the petitioners established a picket line on a date namely November 12, 1959.

The picket line was established at the dock of a secondary employer namely the Colorado Fuel and Coal Company or Coal and Fuel Company at which place a vessel of the respondents was then placed unloading its cargo.

Also, a picket line was established either the same or the next day at the plant of another secondary employer namely Interlake Iron Company.

When the picket line was established at both these places with respect to the first, it has been found below that the employees of the secondary employer refused to work, ceased working and as a result, has been found below, the Colorado Fuel and -- Fuel Company was not able to continue working as it was supposed to on the ship for the respondents.

Earl Warren:

Were any of the members the -- were -- of the -- of the union employees of that company?

Lee Pressman:


Earl Warren:

They were not.

Lee Pressman:

The union had no members at the Colorado -- at the Carnegie, I'm sorry, I should have said Carnegie Coal and Fuel Company nor did the union have any members at the Interlake Iron Company.

On the picket line, there were no employees of either the secondary employers.

Earl Warren:

Were all of the -- all of the employees in this --

Lee Pressman:

Actually --

Earl Warren:

-- local supervisors?

Lee Pressman:

That is the issue which I'd like to come to later, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Oh, I beg your pardon.

I beg your pardon.

Lee Pressman:

Before the lower court, a first a restraining order was issued and then after hearing, the restraining order was merged into a temporary injunction and finally into a permanent injunction.

Below, in the court below, it was found and the court made its findings to the effect that what I've just recited had occurred namely the picketing at the premises of the secondary employer.

And though the petitioners urged that in the face of those facts, activity had been presented which could reasonably or arguably be held to fall within the purview of certain positions of the National Labor Relations Act.

That contention was dismissed and the court issued its orders, holding in effect that by virtue of the picketing at the premises of the secondary employer and compelling the secondary employer to cease doing its business, it had the purpose of forcing the respondents to recognize this union and to enter into a collective bargaining contract, the contents of which would have been in violation of Minnesota statutes and Minnesota public policy and the orders were issued.

The orders were directed specifically among other things at ceased the picketing and ceasing, having the picketing ceased at the premises of the secondary employer.

The simple question that we've submit is involved in this appeal is whether where you have a union which -- as we will demonstrate, is primarily, not exclusively but primarily, composed of what is known as "supervisors" engaging in activity where the dispute is admittedly over a group of employees or workers of the primary employer who are supervisors.