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U.S. Supreme Court

Meat Drivers v. United States, 371 U.S. 94 (1962)

Los Angeles Meat & Provision Drivers Union v. United States

No. 38

Argued October 10, 1962

Decided November 19, 1962

371 U.S. 94


The Government brought this civil action against appellants, a labor union, one of its business agents and four self-employed independent contractors, so-called grease peddlers, who were members of the union, to terminate violations of § 1 of the Sherman Act. Judgment was entered upon findings based upon a detailed stipulation of facts in which appellants admitted all the allegations of the complaint and agreed to the ultimate conclusion that they had unlawfully combined and conspired in unreasonable restraint of foreign trade and commerce in yellow grease. The District Court found that only the support of the union and the powerful weapons at its command had enabled the peddlers and the union to destroy free competition in the purchase and sale of waste grease, and that termination of membership of the grease peddlers in the union appeared to be the most effective, if not the only, means of preventing a recurrence of appellants' unlawful activities. It not only enjoined the practices found to be unlawful, but also ordered the union to expel from membership all self-employed grease peddlers.

Held: The judgment is sustained. Pp. 371 U. S. 95-103.

(a) A court of equity has power to order the dissolution of an association of businessmen when the association and its members have conspired among themselves or with others to violate the antitrust laws, and the circumstances found in this case provide ample support for a decree of dissolution. Pp. 371 U. S. 98-99.

(b) Nothing in the anti-injunction provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act nor in the labor exemption provisions of the Clayton Act insulates a combination in illegal restraint of trade between businessmen and a labor union from the sanctions of the antitrust laws. Pp. 371 U. S. 99-101.

(c) Businessmen who combine in an association which otherwise would be properly subject to dissolution under the antitrust laws cannot immunize themselves from that sanction by the simple expedient of calling themselves a labor union. P. 371 U. S. 101.

Page 371 U. S. 95

(d) There is nothing in the Norris-LaGuardia Act nor in the Clayton Act nor in the federal policy which these statutes reflect to prevent a court from dissolving the ties which bound these businessmen together and which bound them to the appellant union in the circumstances of this case. Pp. 371 U. S. 101-103.

(e) The decree does not violate appellants' freedom of association guaranteed by the First Amendment. P. 101, n 5.

(f) Though the decree directed the union to expel from membership "all grease peddlers" and to refuse membership in the future to "any grease peddler," it was not void as to grease peddlers who were not joined as defendants, since the order ran only against the union. P. 101, n 5.

196 F.Supp. 12 affirmed.

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