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.
The nature and extent of the liability of striking workmen, or others who have entered into a combination to compel a given course of action on the part of another, depends in part upon the relation to the transaction of the party seeking relief. An action against the parties to such a combination is often brought by an employe whose discharge is demanded. The weight of authority is that an employe under a contract, who is discharged by his employer, not for any fault of such employe, but because his other workmen refuse to work for him unless such employe is discharged, may have an action for damages against the persons thus causing his discharge.1 The case of Allen v. Flood,2 has been thought to modify this rule at English law. In a recent case, however,3 Allen v. Flood has been explained and shown to be not necessarily opposed to this rule. In Allen v. Flood certain shipwright? were hired by the job, their employer being free to discharge them at any time. Some of the iron-workers in the shipyard refused to work with these shipwrights, because the shipwrights had in the past, while working for another employer, done certain iron work. Allen, a delegate of the iron workers, notified the employers that the iron workers would be called out, or would knock off work, the evidence being conflicting on this point, unless the shipwrights were discharged. Accordingly, they were discharged. They then brought suit against Allen. It was held by a divided court that they could not recover. The subsequent case referred to4 points out that it did not appear in Allen v. Flood, that Allen had any authority to cause a strike, and that as far as the record showed he did nothing more than to communicate to the employer the conceded fact that some of the men at least were not willing to continue work while these shipwrights were employed. In other cases, however, it has been held that conduct of union men in refusing to work with non-union men. and thus prevent the latter from obtaining employment, was not a wrongful act, and accordingly an in "junction against such conduct has been refused where no further element of wrong was shown to exist.5 Where this last doctrine is recognized, emphasis is laid upon the right of every man to choose such associates in work as he pleases, especially in view of the fact that every employee assumes the risk of injury from the negligence of his fellow employes. Two points distinguish National Protective Association v. Cummings6 from the cases in which the employees are held to be guilty of a tort in striking to cause the discharge of another employee. ( 1) The real trouble was between rival labor unions. The strike may be. therefore, held to be merely a protective measure, and to come under the doctrine of competition.' ( 2) The union whose members refused to work, required an examination as to qualifications for work as a condition precedent to admission. Considerable importance is attached to this fact in the opinion of the court, as showing that the union men were unwilling to assume the risk of working with men outside of their union, whose efficiency had not been thus tested.
1Rex v. Mawbey, 6 T. R. 619; Hilton v. Eckersley, 6 El. & Bl. 47.
2 Hilton v. Eckersley, 6 El. & Bl. 47.
3 Farrer v. Close, L. R. 4 Q. B. 602; Hornby v. Close, L. R. 2 Q. B. 153; Arthur v. Oakes, 63 Fed. 310; 25 L. R. A. 414; 11 C. C. A. 209; Snow v. Wheeler, 113 Mass. 179; Commonwealth v. Hunt, 4 Met. (Mass.) Ill; 38 Am. Dec. 346; Longshore Printing Co. v. Howell, 26 Or. 527; 46 Am. St. Rep. 640; 88 L. R. A. 464; 38 Pac. 547.
4 Wabash Ry. v. Hannahan, 121
Fed. 563; Arthur v. Oakes, 63 Fed. 310; 25 L. R. A. 414; 11 C. C. A. 209. " Strikes are not necessarily illegal. A strike is properly defined as 'a simultaneous cessation of work on the part of the workmen,' and its legality or illegality must depend on the means by which it is enforced and its objects." Far-rer v. Close, L. R. 4 Q. B. 602, 612; quoted in Longshore Printing Co. v. Howell. 26 Or. 527, 542; 46 Am. St. Rep. 640; 28 L. R. A. 464; 38 Pac. 547.
1 Read v. Friendly Society of Operative Stonemasons (1002). 2 K. B. 732; Perkins v. Pendleton. 00 Me. 166; 60 Am. St. Rep. 252: 3S Atl. 96; Lucke v. Clothing Cutters', etc., Assembly. 77 Md. 306; 30 Am. St. Rep. 421; 19 L. R. A. 408; 26 Atl. 505. "The defendants did knowingly and for their own ends induce the commission of an actionable wrong, and they employed illegal means to bring it, about. Such conduct would be nr-tionable in an individual and incapable of justification, a fortiori where the defendants acted in concert." Read v. Friendly Society of Operative Stonemasons (1902), 2K. B. 732, 738.
2 (1898) A. C. 1; reversing Floo.l v. Jackson (1895), 2 Q. B. 21.
3Quinn v. Leathern (1901), App. Cas. 405; affinning Leathern v. Craig, 2 Ir. Rep. (1899) 667.
4Quinn v. Leathern (1901). App. Cas. 495: affirming Leathern v, Craig, 2 Ir. Rep. (1899) 667.