If dealers cannot combine to stifle competition and control the price of a commodity, it may seem reasonable to suppose that workmen cannot combine to control the price of their labor. Authority for declaring that the same principle applies is not wanting. In an Illinois case, a large number of the law stenographers of Chicago formed an association, and fixed a schedule of prices which should be binding on them. The court held that it was contrary to public policy and illegal, citing, in support of the judgment, cases in which dealers in commodities and proprietors of boats had combined for a similar purpose. "All of the members of the association," it was said, "are engaged in the same business within the same territory, and the object of the association is purely and simply to silence and stifle all competition as between its members. No equitable reason for such restraint exists, the only reason put forward being that, under the influence of competition as it existed prior to the organization of the association, prices for stenographic work had been reduced too far, and the association was organized for the purpose of putting an end to all competition, at least as between those who could be induced to become members. True, the restraint is not so far reaching as it would have been if all the stenographers in the city had joined the association, but, so far as it goes, it is precisely of the same character, produces the same results, and is subject to the same legal objection." 52
49 Good v. Daland, 121 N. Y. 1, 24 N. E. 15. And see Morse Twist Drill. & Mach. Co. v. Morse, 103 Mass. 73, 4 Am. Rep. 513; Bowling v. Taylor (O. C.) 40 Fed. 404; Gloucester Isinglass & Glue Co. v. Cement Co., 154 Mass. 92, 27 N. E. 1005, 12 L. R. A. 563, 26 Am. St. Rep. 214; Printing & Numerical Reg. Co. v. Sampson, L. R. 19 Eq. 462; Garst v. Harris, 177 Mass. 72, 58 N. E. 174; ante, p. 396. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. § 552.
50 a combination among manufacturers of harrows, by which each assigns to a corporation patents under which he is operating, and takes back an exclusive license to make and sell the same style of harrow previously made by him, and no other, all to sell at uniform prices, held to be unlawful. National Harrow Co. v. Hench (C. C.) 76 Fed. 667; Id., 83 Fed. 36, 27 C. C. A. 349, 39 L. R. A. 299. See, also, National Harrow Co. v. Quick (C. C.) 67 Fed. 130; Strait v. Harrow Co. (Sup.) 18 N. Y. Supp. 224. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. § 552.
51 Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park & Sons Co., 220 U. S. 373, 31 Sup. Ct. 376, 55 L. Ed. 502 [affirming 164 Fed. 803, 90 C. C. A. 579]. And see to the same effect, W. H. Hill Co. v. Gray & Worcester, 163 Mich. 12, 127 N. W 803, 30 L, R. A. (N. S.) 327. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. §§ 542-552.
By most courts, however, it is held that combinations between laborers, mechanics, or other workmen are valid, even though the object be to prevent competition and maintain prices, provided the provisions for that purpose are reasonable.53 Greenhood 54 lays down the rule (no doubt established by the weight of authority) that "combinations of artisans for their common benefit, as for the development of skill in their trade, or to prevent overcrowding therein,55 or to encourage those belonging to their trade to enter their fold,56 or for the purpose of raising the prices of labor,57 are valid, provided no force or other unlawful means be employed to carry out their ends,58 or their object be not to impoverish third persons,69 or to extort money from employers,60 or to encourage strikes or breaches of contract,61 or to restrict the freedom of members for the purpose of compelling employers to conform to their rules." 62 So an agreement between professional men, by which a schedule of fees is established, is not illegal.68
52 More v. Bennett, 140 I11. 69, 29 N. E. 888, 15 L. R. A. 361, 33 Am. St. Rep. 216. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. §§ 542-552.
53Collins v. Locke, 4 App. Cas. 674. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. §§ 542-552.
54 Greenh. Pub. Pol. rule 546.
55 Snow v. Wheeler, 113 Mass. 179. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. §§ 542-552; "Trade Unions," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 1; Cent. Dig. §§ 1-6.
56 Com. v. Hunt, 4 Metc. (Mass.) Ill, 38 Am. Dec. 346. In this case a rule of an association forbade its members to work for any one who should employ nonunion members, and yet the combination was held not illegal. This, however, was a criminal prosecution, and this fact may be important. Many acts and objects render a contract illegal as being contrary to public policy which would not render the parties liable to a criminal prosecution. See Greenh. Pub. Pol. 648, note 2. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. §§ 542-552.
57 Collins v. Locke, 4 App. Cas. 674; Master Stevedores' Ass'n v. Walsb, 2 Daly (N. Y.) 1; Herriman v. Menzies, 115 Cal. 16, 44 Pac. 660, 46 Pac. 730, 35 L. R. A. 318, 56 Am. St. Rep. 81. But see People v. Fisher, 14 Wend. (N. Y.) 9, 28 Am. Dec. 501. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 116; Cent. Dig. §§ 542-552.