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 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 that they may refuse to resume work until their demands are complied with.1 Such conduct constitutes a strike, and is not necessarily illegal. A labor union may call a strike to compel employers to allot certain kinds of work to such union to the exclusion of a competitor.2 Bricklayers and masons may strike in order to compel their employers to allot the work of pointing to them,3 even though the employers may believe that such work can be done by persons who are regularly engaged in the business of pointing in a more satisfactory manner and at a less cost.4 A contract between members of labor unions engaged in the building trade, that in case of a bona fide dispute between a member of such union and a contractor, the members of the union will withhold their services from him or their subcontractors, until such dispute is settled, is not rendered invalid by a statute which forbids combinations in restraint of trade.5
Pennsylvania. Erdman v. Mitchell, 207 Pa. St. 79, 63 L. R. A. 534, 56 Atl. 327.
The act of a union in placing banners near a place of business denouncing the employer as unfair to organized labor, in order to compel him to desist from working at his own business in person, is wrongful. Roraback v. Motion Picture Machine Operators' Union, 140 Minn. 481, 3 A. L. R. 1290, 168 N. W. 766, 169 N. W. 529.
2 State v. Gliden, 55 Conn. 46, 3 Am. St. Rep. 23, 8 Atl. 890.
3Truax v. Bisbee Local, No. 380, Cooks' and Waiters' Union, 19 Ariz. 379, 171 Pac. 121; Gray v. Building Trades Council, 91 Minn. 171, 103 Am. St. Rep. 477, 63 L. R. A. 753, 97 N. W. 663, 1118; Marx, etc., Co. v. Watson, 168 Mo. 133, 90 Am. St. Rep. 440, 56 L. R. A. 951, 67 S. W. 391; Atkins v. Fletcher Co., 65 N. J. Eq. 658, 55 Atl. 1074.
1 Arthur v. Oakes, 63 Fed. 310, 25 L. R. A. 414, 11 C. C. A. 209; Wabash
Ry. v. Hannahan, 121 Fed. 563; State v. Stockford, 77 Conn. 227, 107 Am. St. Rep. 28, 58 Atl. 769; Pickett v. Walsh, 192 Mass. 572, 116 Am. St. Rep. 272, 6 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1067, 78 N. E. 753; Minnesota Stove Co. v. Cavanaugh, 131 Minn. 458, 155 N. W. 638. "Strikes are not necessarily illegal. A strike is properly denned 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." Fairer 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.
2 Pickett v. Walsh, 192 Mass. 572, 116 Am. St. Rep. 272, 6 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1067, 78 N. E. 753.
3 Pickett v. Walsh, 192 Mass. 572, 116 Am. St. Rep. 272, 6 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1067, 78 N. E. 753.
4 Pickett v. Walsh, 192 Mass. 572, 116 Am. St. Rep. 272, 6 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1067, 78 N. E. 753.
A strike may be wrongful under the special circumstances of the case. Where a number of tailors stopped work and sent back in an unfinished condition the work on which they were engaged, knowing that under the circumstances it would be impossible for their employer to get men to finish it, such conduct was held to amount to a tort.6
It may also be wrongful because of the purpose for which it is called, or because of the means which are employed.7