San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon

PETITIONER: San Diego Building Trades Council
LOCATION: Lion Oil Company Headquarters

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 353 US 26 (1957)
ARGUED: Jan 16, 1957
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1957 (Part 2) in San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1957 (Part 1) in San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon

Earl Warren:

Number 50, San Diego Building Trades Council et al., Petitioners, versus J.S.Garmon et al.

Mr. Scully.

Charles P. Scully:

If the Court please, with respect to the proceeding as Mr. Ratner has indicated, there is a certain similarity between his case, the case now being argued and the case to follow.

However, there are certain basic differences, I believe, in this case from the other two cases and so I think it would be desirable to indicate what had transpired in the courts below as they bear upon these differences.

The record will show that a civil complaint was filed in the San Diego Superior Court on 12 noon of May 7, 1953.

The time is important with respect to the alleged contention on exhaustion of administrative remedy and so I stressed it for that purpose only.

In this particular complaint, at Page 2 of the record, it was specifically alleged that the plaintiff's business affects interstate commerce.

With respect to page 3 of the record, the allegation shows the complaint stated that the defendants were engaged in conduct which was causing a violation of the National Labor Relations Act in demanding a so-called union shop contract.

With respect to page 4 that the defendants were engaged in certain secondary boycott activity and -- and the complaint requested injunction and damages.

I wish to stress that as opposed to the previous case, the law in California is that stranger picketing for the purpose of obtaining a closed shop is legal and permissible.

Furthermore, that secondary boycott activity is legal and permissible.

After a demurrer was interposed, the -- a answer was filed denying the material allegations alleging specifically that the picketing was for lawful, peaceful, organizational purposes and affirmatively raising the defense of one of jurisdiction in the Court because it was a matter which fell within the area of the Board and furthermore, that the plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative relief.

Now, an ex parte injunction was granted at the time that this complaint was filed on May the 7th, 1953.

And on that very day, the employer in this case, having filed this complaint alleging all these factors including secondary boycott factors, sent to the Board a petition for representation, but the Board at no time had before it any of the facts alleged in the complaint going to the question of the secondary boycott.

And we wish to stress that because as pointed out in the brief filed by the friend of the Court, the steelworkers, there are different standards applicable depending upon the nature of the remedy.

And here, although they simultaneously proceeded in San Diego in a civil action and obtained a temporary restraining order, they filed by mail with the Board, simply a petitioner representation.

The trial courts specifically found and this is at the record at Page 16, that the employer was engaged in an operation which affects interstate commerce and is subject to the National Labor Relations Act.

It found that the Board had refused to take jurisdiction over the particular controversy as a result of this representation, petition at -- at page 16 of the record and that the conduct of the particular unions would compel the employer to violate the Taft-Hartley Act.

It was then taken off on appeal.

And after an intermediate reversal in the District of Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment.

And at page 48 of the record, we see the statement by our Supreme Court with respect to the first issue that has been raised in this and the other cases and the Court stated and I'm quoting, “Furthermore, a refusal to accept jurisdiction upon the ground that the issue presented does not sufficiently affect the national welfare to justify the Board's attention, in effect, is a declaration that the National Labor Policy will not be jeopardized if the State assumes jurisdiction.”

Then, going over to page 52 of the record, we find the specific holding of the Court, quoting, “Since those decisions, however, the federal statute has been broadened to extend protection to the employer from such activities.

The assertion of economic pressures to compel an employer to sign a type of agreement here involved is an unfair labor practice under Section 8 (b) (2) of the Act."

Now, I wish to emphasize that because the Board in its brief and respondents in their brief attempt to avoid the effect of that finding and indicate that the decision of the Supreme Court below is not based upon a finding that the defendants have been guilty of an unfair labor practice under the federal act.

And then the Court continued, consorted labor activities for such a purpose, thus, were unlawful under the federal statute and for that reason, were not privileged under the California law.

And so, we submit in this particular case the issue that is involved is where the Board has declined to exercise its discretion, where under the state law, the conduct in question is lawful and permissible.

Can the state court in applying the federal law, which would be inconsistent with its lawful state law -- can they find that the conduct is a violation of the Taft-Hartley Act by the defendants and grant injunctive relief to a private employer?

And we submit that they cannot and we submit that the key to this complete argument lies in the specific language of Section 10 (a).

Questions have been asked to previous counsel with respect to 10 (a) and so, if I may, I would like to direct my argument to the point that with respect to the statutory provisions of 10 (a), they, in and of themselves, exclude states from asserting jurisdiction within the area over which Congress, pursuant to the frame, but decision discussed by Mr. Ratner have occupied the field except in pursuance of the restrictions of the statute.

We respectfully submit that a mere reading of the statute on the face will establish that.