Teamsters Union v. Vogt, Inc.

PETITIONER: Teamsters Union
RESPONDENT: Vogt, Inc.
LOCATION: Military Stockade

DOCKET NO.: 79
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 354 US 284 (1957)
ARGUED: Feb 26, 1957
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1957

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Teamsters Union v. Vogt, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 26, 1957 in Teamsters Union v. Vogt, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 79, International Brotherhood of Teamsters versus Vogt, Incorporated.

Mr. Previant.

David Previant:

If the Court please, this case comes here on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin to review a judgment of that Court which restrains the petitioners from peaceful picketing at the place of employment of nonunion workingmen.

Litigation was initiated in the Circuit Court for Waukesha County which entered ex parte temporary and permanent injunctions against such picketing.

On appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it, first, rendered the decision, in which unanimously held, that the lower court was in error and reversed the lower court with directions to dissolve the injunction.

Upon motion for rehearing and after re-argument, some seven months later, the Court reversed itself and, by a vote of six-to-one, reinstated the permanent injunction, holding that it was in error in its first opinion when it directed the lower court to dissolve it.

Do we have to pursue a study or a motion?

David Previant:

On motion.

The case presents the question whether such peaceful picketing at the place of employment of nonunion employees, unaccompanied by any demand upon the employer and preceded only by a solicitation of the nonunion employees, is protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution or whether, as the court below found that such picketing was engaged in for the unlawful purpose of compelling the employer, through economic coercion, to interfere with the rights of his employees not to join a union in violation of the state law.

The evidentiary facts are simple and they are undisputed.

The employer operates a place of business in a gravel pit in the Town of Oconomowoc, County of Waukesha in the State of Wisconsin.

In its operations, it employees from some 10 to 15 employees, all of whom are eligible for membership in either of the three unions which are the petitioners here.

In August of 1953 and again in April of 1954, the petitioning unions solicited directly the membership of these nonunion employees, discussed with them the advantages of organization, but their invitation was rejected.

Now, there is some statement in respondent's brief that this solicitation occurred over a period of 12 months.

The record does not so show it, but we believe it is immaterial.

After the refusal of the employees and, again, without any approach ever having been made to the employer, without any demand ever having been made upon the employer, the petitioners commenced picketing.

They picketed at the site of the gravel pit on a public road immediately adjoining the gravel pit where the employer maintained his place of business and where the nonunion employees were working.

The sign which they displayed carried the very simple and truthful legend that the men on the job were not 100% affiliated with the American Federation of Labor.

And, the sign was signed by the three unions involved, the Building and Construction Labor's Union, the Operating Engineers' Union and the Teamsters Union and, that is, the local unions of those organizations.

There is no proof with respect to the extent of the traffic which used the road.

There was no proof with the extent to the number of customers which might come to that particular job site to transact business with the employer.

The picketing was completely peaceful and completely orderly.

There was no obstruction of any kind, no threats, and no violence.

Felix Frankfurter:

In number, how many were there?

David Previant:

Two or three, sometimes one.

The record is -- I don't believe that there's even a reference in the record to that.

It may be, if there is, that there were one.

But, there was no mass picketing, no finding of mass picketing of any kind.

Now, some truck drivers of material suppliers to this place of business refused to go through that picket line.

In consequence of which, the employer used his own trucks with which to pick up the materials which had been or would have been delivered by these other truck drivers who did not go through the line.