This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
It seems to have been held originally that a combination between workmen for the purpose of raising their wages, was necessarily illegal, no matter what means might be employed.1 It was also held that a combination between employers for the purpose of keeping down wages, was illegal.2 The rate of wages was probably selected by the court stating this view of the law, because, at the outset, the rate of wages was the chief thing in which the combination of employers and employees was concerned. The view that combinations of employees for the purpose of raising their wages, securing a better condition in hours of labor, circumstances of labor, and the like, is necessarily illegal, has long since been abandoned.3 If such combination resorts to means lawful per se, the combination is not necessarily illegal. It is very generally held that workmen may combine for the purpose of stopping work, at least as long as they do not break any existing contracts; and may refuse to resume work until their demands are complied with.* Such conduct constitutes a strike, and is not necessarily illegal.