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U.S. Supreme Court

American Radio Assn. v. Mobile S.S. Assn., 419 U.S. 215 (1974)

American Radio Assn., AFL-CIO v. Mobile Steamship Assn., Inc.

No. 73-748

Argued October 21, 1974

Decided December 17, 1974

419 U.S. 215


Respondents, an association representing stevedoring companies, and a shipper, sought injunctive relief in an Alabama state court against picketing of a foreign-flag ship by petitioner maritime unions which were protesting as substandard the wages paid the foreign crewmen who manned the ship. The trial court issued a temporary injunction, and the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed. Petitioners contend that the state courts were without jurisdiction to grant relief, and that the issuance of an injunction interfered with their free speech rights.


1. The jurisdiction of the Alabama courts was not preempted by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Windward Shipping v. American Radio Assn., 415 U. S. 104. Pp. 419 U. S. 219-228.

(a) Even if there is a dispute between petitioners and respondents independent of petitioners' dispute with foreign flag ships, it is subject to state court disposition unless it satisfies the jurisdictional requirements of the NLRA. P. 419 U. S. 221.

(b) The fact that the state court's jurisdiction is invoked by stevedores and shippers, rather than by the foreign-ship owners as in Windward, supra, does not convert into "commerce" within the meaning of the NLRA's jurisdictional requirements, activities that plainly were not such in Windward. Pp. 419 U. S. 221-225.

(c) Neither the shipper seeking to ship his products, the stevedores who contracted to unload the foreign flag vessel's cargo, nor the longshoremen employed to do the unloading, were, for the purposes of jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board over a dispute directly affecting the maritime operations of foreign flag vessels, "engaged in or affecting commerce" within the purview of the NLRA, and therefore petitioners' picketing did not even "arguably" constitute an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4) of the Act, the secondary boycott provision. Pp. 419 U. S. 225-228.

2. The Alabama courts' action in enjoining the picketing violated no right conferred upon petitioners by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, because that action is well within that

"broad field in which a State, in enforcing some public policy, whether of its criminal or its civil law, and whether announced by its legislature or its courts, could constitutionally enjoin peaceful picketing

Page 419 U. S. 216

aimed at preventing effectuation of that policy,"

Teamsters Union v. Vogt, Inc., 354 U. S. 284, 354 U. S. 293. Pp. 419 U. S. 228-232.

(a) Since the picketing here was for a prohibited purpose, it is not entitled to protection on the ground that the place where it occurred constituted a public forum for presentation of lawful communications. Food Employees v. Logan Valley Plaza, 391 U. S. 308, distinguished. P. 419 U. S. 230.

(b) The injunction is supported by a "valid public policy." In the context in which the Alabama Supreme Court stated the public policy to be the prevention of "wrongful interference" with respondents' businesses, that term obviously refers to third parties' efforts to induce employees to cease performing services essential to the conduct of their employer's business, third-party participation being critical to picketing being categorized as "wrongful interference." Pp. 419 U. S. 230-231.

(c) Petitioners' contention that the record fails to support the conclusion that there was a substantial question whether the picketing constituted "wrongful interference," is without merit, since the question whether evidence is sufficient to make out a cause of action created by state law and tried in the state courts is a matter for decision by those courts. Pp. 419 U. S. 231-232.

291 Ala. 201, 279 So.2d 467, affirmed.

REHNQUIST, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 419 U. S. 232. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, BRENNAN, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 419 U. S. 234.

Page 419 U. S. 217

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