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employees, the business of the employer is ruined, the Union has been regarded as responsible.
These actions were brought with the attempt to remove this feeling of irresponsibility on the part of the individual employee and make each individual, so far as possible, not only personally but financially responsible for his acts. At this time, of course, it is impossible to forecast the result. Every lawyer knows that while in his own mind he may have a feeling that he is absolutely right in his contentions, the court may have a different opinion. Whether or not judgment will be secured in these cases rests upon time and the court, but counsel for the plaintiffs, at least, believes that the position taken is correct.
This is neither the time nor the place to enter into an elaborate discussion of the law covering the position which has been taken. At the same time, it may be of interest to state in brief some of the positions which have been taken by the courts throughout this country.
Privilege of Contract Both a Liberty and Property Right
It has been plainly and definitely settled that the privilege of contract is both a liberty and a property right. That is, that every person who desires to enter into a contract of employment with another person is free to do so, and if there is any interference, either by picketing, violence, threatening, or other act such that one who desires employment cannot secure it, and the one who desires employes is restrained from securing them, the rights of the parties have been violated, and where rights have been violated compensating damages can be secured.
In Illinois it has been said that “to deprive the laborer and the employer of this right to contract with one another is to violate section 2 of Article 2 of the Constitution of Illinois, which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law.”
It is equally a violation of the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the Constitution of the United States, which provides that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
A Massachusetts court has said “freedom is the policy of this country, but freedom does not imply a right in one person, either alone or in combination with others, to disturb or annoy another, either directly or indirectly, in his lawful business or occupation, or to threaten him with annoyance or injury for the sake of compelling him to buy his peace.”
In Indiana the court said “the great weight of authority supports the doctrine that where the policy pursued against a trade or business is of a menacing character, calculated to destroy or injure the business of the person so engaged, either by threats or intimidation, it becomes unlawful, and the person inflicting the wrong is amenable to the injured party in a civil action for damages therefor;” and in Vermont the court has said “such conspiracies may give the individual directly affected by them a private right of action for damages.”
Throughout all of the states there are decisions containing statements similar to these, holding that if one employee or a group of employes injure an employer, there must be compensation for the injuries.
Bridgeport Strike Already Lost By Union In considering the position taken by the founders of Bridgeport it is recognized, as it is also recognized by the National Founders' Association, that it is pitted against one of the strongest unions in the United States. The International Moulders Union has a large membership, ample financial resources, attorneys of ability, and thorough and complete organization. It is not too much to say that if the International Moulders Union had been successful in Bridgeport there would have been an immediate contest between the Union and all of the other foundries through New England. The opinion of the founders in Bridgeport was that they were not fighting alone for their individual concerns, but that they were protecting, so far as might be in their power, the other founders through New England.
As it is the strikes have been largely unsuccessful; the shops are open, some of them having their full quota of employes and others having a large percentage. There is still some picketing being carried on, with its attendant conditions. A state of war still exists on the part of the strikers, but on the side of the founders, they are continuing their work, as far as possible, without regard to the state of war. Nevertheless, the founders recognize that the matters are far from settled and that it is necessary for them to continue their efforts to make conditions such that they can run their business in their own way, provided that way is not unreasonable toward their employes. Union Interference With Right of Member to Contract
One of the strange developments of the Bridgeport situation is that on November 1st a number of founders who had re-employed men who had been on strike received letters from the attorney of Local Union No. 110, International Moulders Union of North America stating that these men who had returned to the employment of the founders had signed contracts with the Union to work for it for a period of one year from September 21, 1916, and stating that by the terms of the contract the men had agreed to devote their exclusive time to the work for which they were employed by the Union. The notice further stated that if the founders continued to employ these men the Union would seek “such redress as the law will permit.” This seems to be a direct attempt by the Union to interfere with the liberty of the individual employee to contract. It has not been possible to secure a copy of the contract claimed by the Union to have been made, even the men themselves with whom the contracts are supposed to have been made neither having copies nor being aware that they had signed any such contract.
If trade unionism in the United States has come to a pass where the individual employee can be so bound by his union as to be unable to secure employment except under its direction, and can so use the subterfuge of a contract to deprive the employer, under the orders of the union, from employing men who are willing and ready to work for him, then slavery is still in existence in this country.
This situation intensifies the necessity for showing the individual employee that he is an individual dealing with his employer and that he personally is entitled to his rights from the employer and that he personally has his reciprocal obligations towards his employer.
Individual Members Liable for Concerted Union
Attack on Employers The trade unions are ostensibly organized and carried on for the benefit of the workers, but they ignore his personal freedom as completely as if he had none. While claiming to work for his ultimate good, organized labor temporarily places upon the wage earner a heavy burden by trying to force the individual to submerge his identity. The strike is the only adopted weapon of offense and defense. It operates to the loss alike of the employer and the employed. Between the two forces what becomes of the freedom of the individual? The truth of this has been long recognized, and similar statements have been made for a great many years, but the difficulty is that the usual burden of the statements is that the strength of collective capital is employed against the individual laborer. What about the situation where collective labor is arraigned against the individual employer? We are not now in the days when the individual employee was weak, uneducated, with no right, and with no opportunity; in fact, there are many times when the employee is in a much better and more comfortable situation financially than is the employer. An aggregation of such employes, whether they are employed by one employer or by several, to force either that one employer or the several employers to do the will of those employes and deprive the employer of his personal liberty with regard to the employment of labor, is an attack upon his personal rights and is a conspiracy which will permit recovery of damages from the individual employes.
Personal Responsibility for His Acts Must Rest Upon
Employee as well as Employer Public opinion, has, during the last few years, gone so far as to cause to be enacted certain legislation compelling the employer to stand on his own feet, and preventing combinations of employers. On the side of the employer, therefore, collectivism has been forced to give way very largely to individualism. It must be so, therefore, that on the side of the employe the same collectivism must give way to individualism. The first step in this is, if possible, to show that the individual has his personal obligations to the employer. If that can be done it is believed that a long step forward has taken place in the development of a peace situation in labor matters.
Whether or not this can be accomplished is, of course, at the present time a question which we are trying to settle in the Connecticut cases. We believe that if we can prove our allegations of conspiracy and show that damage has been occasioned thereby, the individuals will be subjected to damages such that they will understand their personal responsibility for their acts. No longer will the unions dominate, but the individuals themselves will know that if, by their acts, they injure the employer, they must answer to him. Liberty under law must be for the employer as well as for the employee; personal responsibility for his acts must be with the employee as well as with the employer.
AT THE BAT We must not forget that every man who goes to the bat has a right to make a home run if he can.
Success in industry is not a sin. Wealth honorably won is an evidence of stength and proves nothing but the ability and worth as leaders of those who win it. Many say that no man can grow rich unless he makes some other man poor; but this is not so. No man can go up without bringing a whole lot of other men up with him. This is the day of big things. It has come to stay. Big business is not bad business. It is affirmatively and positively good business and the American people are now coming to realize this truism.-Hon. James T. McCleary.