Labor dispute under norrislaguardia act


Case Study:

[The Players opted to terminate their union’s status as their collective bargaining agent just before the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired on March 11, 2011. Later that day, the Players filed an action in district court alleging that the planned lockout by the National Football League (NFL) would constitute a group boycott and price-fixing agreement that would violate Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The individual Players explained that they had determined that it was not in their interest to remain unionized if the existence of such a union would serve to allow the NFL to impose anticompetitive restrictions with impunity. The NFL proceeded with its planned lockout on March 12, 2011. The Players moved for a preliminary injunction in the district court, urging the court to enjoin the lockout as an unlawful group boycott that was causing irreparable harm to the Players. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, and the League appealed.] Colloton, C. J. … We consider first the League’s contention that the Norris-LaGuardia Act deprived the district court of jurisdiction to enter the injunction. The NLGA, enacted in 1932, curtails the authority of a district court to issue injunctions in a labor dispute. “Congress was intent upon taking the federal courts out of the labor injunction business except in the very limited circumstances left open for federal jurisdiction under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.” Marine Cooks & Stewards v. Pan. S.S. Co., 362 U.S. 365, 369 (1960).… To determine whether the NLGA forbids or places conditions on the issuance of an injunction here, we begin with the text of the statute. Section 1 provides that “[n]o court of the United States … shall have jurisdiction to issue any … temporary or permanent injunction in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute, except in strict conformity with the provisions of this chapter,” 29 U.S.C. § 101. As noted, the district court concluded that the Act is inapplicable to this action, because the case is not one “involving or growing out of a labor dispute.” Section 13(c) of the Act states that “[t]he term ‘labor dispute’ includes any controversy concerning terms or conditions of employment, or concerning the association or representation of persons in negotiating, fixing, maintaining, changing, or seeking to arrange terms or conditions of employment, regardless of whether or not the disputants stand in the proximate relation of employer and employee,” 29 U.S.C. § 113(c) (emphasis added). This lawsuit is a controversy concerning terms or conditions of employment. The Players seek broad relief that would affect the terms or conditions of employment for the entire industry of professional football. In particular, they urge the court to declare unlawful and to enjoin several features of the relationship between the League and the players, including the limit on compensation that can be paid to rookies, the salary cap, the “franchise player” designation, and the “transition player” designation, all of which the Players assert are anticompetitive restrictions that violate § 1 of the Sherman Act.… … Not only has the Supreme Court repeatedly characterized § 13(c) as a definition, but contrary to the suggestion that an established meaning should be used to narrow the text, the Court has observed that “the statutory definition itself is extremely broad,” Jacksonville Bulk Terminals, Inc., 457 U.S. at 712, and explained that “Congress made the definition broad because it wanted it to be broad.” Order of R.R. Telegraphers, 362 U.S. at 335–36. The Act also states expressly that “[a] case shall be held to involve or grow out of a labor dispute when the case involves persons who are engaged in the same industry, trade, craft, or occupation,” 29 U.S.C. § 113(a). This case, of course, involves persons engaged in the “same industry,” namely, professional football. The statute continues that such a case “shall be held to involve or grow out of a labor dispute” when “such dispute is…between one or more employers or associations of employers and one or more employees or associations of employees,” Id. This dispute is between one or more employers or associations of employers (the League and the NFL teams) and one or more employees (the Players under contract). By the plain terms of the Act, this case “shall be held to involve or grow out of a labor dispute.” The district court reached a contrary conclusion by departing from the text of § 13(a). The court thought the phrase “one or more employees or associations of employees” did not encompass the Players in this dispute, because “one or moreemployees” means “individual unionized employee or employees.” … We see no warrant for adding a requirement of unionization to the text.… The text of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the cases interpreting the term “labor dispute” do not require the present existence of a union to establish a labor dispute. Whatever the precise limits of the phrase “involving or growing out of a labor dispute,” this case does not press the outer boundary. The League and the players’ union were parties to a collective bargaining agreement for almost 18 years prior to March 2011. They were engaged in collective bargaining over terms and conditions of employment for approximately two years through March 11, 2011. At that point, the parties were involved in a classic “labor dispute” by the Players’ own definition. Then, on a single day, just hours before the CBA’s expiration, the union discontinued collective bargaining and disclaimed its status, and the Players filed this action seeking relief concerning industry-wide terms and conditions of employment. Whatever the effect of the union’s disclaimer on the League’s immunity from antitrust liability, the labor dispute did not suddenly disappear just because the Players elected to pursue the dispute through antitrust litigation rather than collective bargaining.… Aside from the text and structure of § 4, the Players argue that the policy of the NLGA and the legislative history support their position that § 4(a) offers no protection to employers. To be sure, the policy stated in § 2 is that the individual unorganized worker should be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers in the designation of representatives, self-organization, or other concerted activities. But it does not follow that a prohibition on injunctions against employer lockouts is contrary to the policy of the Act. The Supreme Court has observed that while the Act was designed to protect workingmen, the broader purpose was “to prevent the injunctions of the federal courts from upsetting the natural interplay of the competing economic forces of labor and capital.” Bhd. of R.R. Trainmen v. Chi. River & Ind. R.R. Co., 353 U.S. 30, 40 (1957) (emphasis added).… For these reasons, we conclude that § 4(a) of the Norris-LaGuardia Act deprives a federal court of power to issue an injunction prohibiting a party to a labor dispute from implementing a lockout of its employees. This conclusion accords with the few decisions that have addressed the specific question.… Because the Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibits the district court from issuing an injunction against the League’s lockout of employees, the court’s order cannot stand.… Given our conclusion that the preliminary injunction did not conform to the provisions of the NorrisLaGuardia Act, we need not reach the other points raised by the League on appeal. In particular, we express no view on whether the League’s nonstatutory labor exemption from the antitrust laws continues after the union’s disclaimer. The parties agree that the Act’s restrictions on equitable relief are not necessarily coextensive with the substantive rules of antitrust law, and we reach our decision on that understanding.… BYE, Circuit Judge, dissenting In 1914, after 20 years of judicial interference in labor conflicts on the side of the employers, Congress stepped in to protect organized labor by passing sections 6 and 20 of the Clayton Act. Section 20 of the Act generally prohibited the issuance of injunctions in cases involving or growing out of labor disputes. See 29 U.S.C. § 52. It soon became apparent, however, that what was supposed to be the “charter of liberty of labor,” Felix Frankfurter & Nathan Greene, The Labor Injunction 164 (1930) (remarks of William Howard Taft), fell short of the promise. The Lochnerera judges adopted a narrow interpretation of the Act, restricting it to “trade union activities directed against an employer by his own employees.” United States v. Hutcheson, 312 U.S. 219, 230 (1941). “[T]o protect the rights of labor in the same manner the Congress intended when it enacted the Clayton Act,” id. at 236, Congress passed the Norris-LaGuardia Act, under which “the allowable area of union activity was not to be restricted … to an immediate employer-employee relation,” Id. at 231. Through its holding in this case today, the majority reaffirms the wisdom of the old French saying used by Felix Frankfurter and Nathan Greene when describing judicial reluctance to enforce § 20 of the Clayton Act: “the more things are legislatively changed, the more they remain the same judicially.” Felix Frankfurter & Nathan Greene, The Labor Injunction 176 (1930). Despite the repeated efforts of the legislative branch to come to the rescue of organized labor, today’s opinion puts the power of the Act in the service of employers, to be used against non-unionized employees who can no longer avail themselves of protections of labor laws. Because I cannot countenance such interpretation of the Act, I must and hereby dissent.…

Q1. Must there be a duly certified union in order to have a “labor dispute” under the NorrisLaGuardia Act?

Q2. Did the “labor dispute” between the players and the League disappear when the players decertified as a union and elected to pursue the dispute through antitrust litigation rather than collective bargaining?

Q3. Did the court decide that the League’s nonstatutory labor exemption from the antitrust laws continues even though the players decertified as a union?

Your answer must be, typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman font (size 12), one-inch margins on all sides, APA format and also include references.

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