Apex Hosiery Company v. Leader 310 U.S. 469 (1940)

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Destroying the effect of coronado coal company v. united mine workers (1925), although not overruling it, this opinion marked the shift toward a prolabor sentiment in the Supreme Court. The Court reaffirmed the application of the sherman antitrust act to unions but held that even a strike that effected a reduction of goods in interstate commerce was no Sherman Act violation if it furthered legitimate union objectives. (See allen-bradley company v. local #3.) A particularly violent sit-down strike at the Apex plant reduced the volume of goods in commerce and resulted in extensive physical damage. Did the act forbid the union's actions? Justice harlan fiske stone, for a 6–3 Court, condemned the union's conduct, declaring that the company had a remedy under state law, but held that restraints not outlawed by the Sherman Act when accomplished peacefully could not be brought within the law's scope because they were accompanied by violence. The Court also denied that the resulting restraint of trade fell under the act. The union was not proceeding illegally by acting to eliminate nonunion or commercial competition in the market, even though a production halt must accompany a strike and lead to a temporary restraint. Only if the restraint led to a monopoly, price control, or discrimination among consumers would a violation occur. The Court thus substituted a test of restraint in the marketplace for the test of intent previously announced in bedford cut stone v. journeymen stonecutters (1927). In dissent, Chief Justice charles evans hughes, joined by Justices owen roberts and james c. mcreynolds, insisted that the earlier decisions governed and that they had not confined the test of restraint to market control. The Court had abandoned its earlier approach; the next year it would supplement Apex, excluding both jurisdictional strikes and secondary boycotts from Sherman Act coverage in United States v. Hutcheson (1941).

David Gordon

(see also: Antitrust Law.)