In the United States, if the logic of early cases were followed, there can be no doubt that the agreement of members of a trade union with one another would be invalid as in restraint of trade. The primary purpose of such organizations is to enhance wages, to lessen the hours of work to be given for the wages, and to obtain for members of the organization available work to the exclusion of others. A trade agreement among stenographers to maintain prices, though far less drastic in its objects than those of an ordinary labor union has been held unenforceable as in unlawful restraint of trade.88 It might also be argued that the iron control that the modern labor union seeks to exercise over its members makes the agreement of membership an undue restriction of personal liberty.89 But in view of the modern social and economic attitude of large numbers of the community towards labor unions and the judicial expressions in certain cases involving, to be sure, allegations of criminal or tortious combinations, not the validity of a contract as such, it seems probable that the ordinary principles governing contracts in restraint of trade would not now generally be applied to combinations of workmen. This result has been helped by an ambiguous use of the words "unlawful" and "illegal" and their opposites. That it is neither a crime nor a tort at common law to combine to raise wages is clear, but neither is it to combine to raise the price of commodities. It was said in a recent case of union workmen, - "The employees of the receiver had the right to organize into or to join a labor union which should take joint action as to their terms of employment. It is of benefit to them and to'the public that laborers should unite in their common interest and for lawful purposes. They have labor to sell. If they stand together, they are often able, all of them, to command better prices for their labor than when dealing singly with rich employers, because the necessities of the single employee may compel him to accept any terms offered him. The accumulation of a fund for the support of those who feel that the wages offered are below market prices is one of the legitimate objects of such an organization. "90 Such language certainly seems to mean more than an
80 23 Edw. Ill, c. 1; 25 Edw. Ill, Stat. 1. See 3 Stephen, Hist. Crim. Law, 204.
812 and 3 Edw. VI, c. 15; 5 Eliz, c. 4;
7 Geo. 1 Stat. 1 c. 13; 40 Geo. III. c. 106.
82 40 Geo. 111, c 106.
83 See Hornby v. Close, L. R. 2 Q. B. 153; Russell v;. Amalgamated Soc. of Carpenters,  1 K. B. 506,  A. C. 421; qf. Osborne v. Amalgamated Soc. of Ry. Servants, ]1911] 1 Ch. 540. For a fuller discussion of the English law see 25 Harv. L. Rev. 579.
84 Hilton v. Eckereley, 6 E. & B. 47.
But such an agreement would not be a tort against an injured commercial rival. Mogul S. S. Co. v. McGregor,  A. C. 25.
85 Supra, Sec.1648, n. 33.
86 34 and 35 Vict., c, 31; 39 and 40 Vict., c. 22; 2 and 3 Geo. V, c. 30.
87 Associations of employers, as well as of employees are within the protection of these, statutes, see Chamberlain's Wharf, Ltd., v. Smith,  2 Ch. 605. See also Merrifield v. Liverpool Cotton Assoc., 105 L. T. 97; British Assoc, v. Nettlefold, 27 T. L. Rep. 527.
88 More v. Bennett, 140 111. 60, 29 N. E. 888,15 L. R. A. 961,33 Am. St. Rep. 216.
89 Seesaupra, Sec. 1652.
90 Taft, J., in Thomas v. Cincinnati, etc., Ry. Co., 62 Fed. 803. See also for similar statements Hitchman Coal
& Coke Co. v. Mitchell, 245 U. S. 229, 253, 62 L. Ed. 260, 38 S. Ct. Rep. 65, Ann. Cas. 1918 B. 461; Shinsky v. ONeil, 232 Mass. 99, 121 N. E. 790. National Protective Assoc, v. dimming, 170 N. Y. 315, 321,63 N. E. 369; 58 L. R. A. 135, 88 Am. St. Rep. 648; assertion that such organizations are not necessarily either tortious to other persons or a crime against the State. If similar words were used of manufacturers "they have goods to sell and if they stand together they are often able, all of them, to command better prices for their goods than when dealing singly with the public," the reasoning would be thought to show conclusively that the agreement between the manufacturers was illegal at common law in the sense of being unenforceable and regarded as opposed to public policy. Presumably also if it was said of manufacturers "They have labor to buy. If they stand together they are often able, all of them, to command more labor for their money than when dealing singly with their employees," it would be thought to prove the illegality of an agreement by the manufacturers in the combination, at least if it was part of the object of the agreement, to bring all manufacturers into the agreement.91
Grassi Contracting Co. v. Bennett, 174 N. Y. App. Dir. 244, 249, 160 N. Y. 8.279.
91 In Grassi Contracting Co. v. Bennett, 174 N. Y. App. Div. 244,249, 160 N. Y. S. 279, the court said:
"It has been held that employers may not combine and agree to employ either only union or non-union labor when such employers control the trade in any community or control it to such an extent that it would be practically impossible for those thus discriminated against to obtain employment, for in such case the agreement would be oppressive and contrary to public policy. McCord v. Thompson-Starrett Co., 129 N. Y. App. Div., 130, 113 N. Y. 8. 385, affd. 198 N. Y. 587, 92 N. E. 1090; Family v. Schaettler, 143 N. Y. App. Div. 273, 128 N. Y. S. 157, affd. 207 N. Y. 644, 100 N. E. 1127. . . .
"It is perfectly lawful to organize to* advance or to maintain a scheduled rate of wages, and to call a strike for those purposes, where no contract rights are violated; but not for the primary purpose of restricting the freedom of others by coercing them under a penalty of loss and deprivation of employment to join a labor union, Penal Law, Sec.582; Curran v. Galen, 152 N. Y. 33, 46 N. E. 297, 37 L. R. A. 802; Mills v. United States Printing Co., 99 N. Y. App. Div. 605, 91 N. Y. S. 185, but the refusal by the members of a labor union to work with those not belonging to the union, or vice versa, or a threat to strike if others are not discharged, where the action is primarily for their own benefit, does not constitute an unlawful interference with the freedom of others and affords no ground for action either for damages or for injunctive relief. Wunch v. Shankland, 59 N. Y. App. Div. 482, 69 N. Y. S. 349, appeal dismissed, 170 N. Y. 573, 62 N. E. 1102, S. C. 81 N. Y. App. Div. 655, 81 N. Y. S. 1151, affd. 179 N. Y. 545, 71 N. E. 1142, on authority of National Protective Assn. v. dimming, 53 N. Y. App. Div. 227, 65 N. Y. S. 946, affd. 170 N. Y. 315, 63 N. E. 369; Mills v. United States Printing Co., 99 N. Y. App. Div. 605, 91 N. Y. S. 185; Davis v. United Engineers, 28 N. Y. App. Div. 396, 51 N. Y. S. 180."