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LABOR INJUNCTIONS IN MASSACHUSETTS.
This bulletin, which in a sense is supplementary to Labor Bulletins Nos. 70 and 78, issued in 1909 and 1910 respectively, has been prepared with a view to presenting a survey of litigation in labor disputes in this Commonwealth during recent years, including all cases arising in the Superior Court and Supreme Court (Single Justice) in Equity, from November 1, 1910, to February 1, 1916, and a complete list of the cases decided by the Supreme Court for the Commonwealth beginning with Commonwealth v. Hunt and including the recent decision of Bogni v. Perotti, amounting in all to 34 cases. The later cases have been given in full, except certain portions of the headnotes and of the text of the decisions which are not of any great importance to the layman as an aid to his understanding of the several cases. Although the title of the bulletin is "Labor Injunctions in Massachusetts" it will be observed that certain cases which did not arise in equity, but have been decided at common law, have been included. These, however, have been added in order to make the list complete from the point of view of the substantive law, the name being justified on the ground that most of the cases have arisen in the courts of equity.
Part I consists of certain explanatory matter relative to the Equity Court from its beginning in England, with the hearing of petitions by the Chancellor, down to the present proceedings, as they are understood to take place in the equity courts of the Commonwealth, and it is hoped that this discussion will serve as an aid to the layman in appreciating the significance of the cases, especially where he may not be familiar with the procedure in such cases.
Part II consists of the complete list of cases, as found in the Massachusetts reports, from the first case in 1842 up to the present time, and are arranged chronologically in order that the historical development of the law may be observed.
In Part III have been presented certain typical forms of the principal papers necessary in the carrying of a case through the courts of equity, from the bringing of the bill to the entering of the final decree. Such
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forms have been referred to from time to time throughout the book for the purpose of making the text more intelligible.
In Part IV appear those cases relating to labor disputes arising in the Supreme and Superior Courts of Equity in the Commonwealth from November 1, 1910, to February 1, 1916, arranged in chronological order for each county; and in Part V those cases, in which contempt proceedings were instituted are presented.
Newspaper clippings relating to injunctions and court decisions in such cases have been collected by this Bureau and were useful in preparing a list of cases. A careful examination was made at the courts of each county of the docket and actual papers relating to labor disputes in order to complete the list. The papers on file were reviewed and the actual pleadings and findings in each particular case are briefly summarized in this report. It is believed, therefore, that every case in which an injunction has been sought in a labor dispute in Massachusetts between the periods above mentioned has been consulted in the preparation of this report. In the 110 petitions which were addressed to the court in these matters, 34 injunctions were granted; in two cases injunctions were denied; 15 cases were ended without injunctions being granted; in 35 cases there were no proceedings after the bill of complaint or master's report had been filed; in the remaining 24 cases final decrees were entered by the parties by consent, signifying that the parties had arrived at an amicable agreement. Although the number of petitions filed during recent years appears to indicate a disposition by parties to labor disputes to resort to the courts more frequently than formerly, there is nevertheless shown by the cases a growing disposition to settle such disputes amicably before injunctions are actually issued. In a large proportion of the cases the final decrees signify nothing other than that a stipulation has been filed in which the parties have agreed to settle the matter upon terms which are not made public; and in several other cases joint stipulations are found in which respondents agree not to do any of the acts complained of, thereby preventing the issuance of any Temporary or Ad Interim Injunction.
Certain statutes bearing on industrial disputes, enacted by the Legislature during recent years, have been added as Appendix C. In general it may be said that these statutes cover the most vital points of differences between employers and the unions. By Acts, 1886, Chapter 263, and its amendments, the arbitration of labor disputes was recognized as in accordance with sound public policy. The State Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, as the administrative board at the head of such work, and local
boards of arbitration, appointed as occasions arise, have original jurisdiction in such cases. Advertising for employees during strikes has been regulated, so that employers when advertising for strikebreakers must mention in such advertisement, or oral or written solicitations, that a strike, lockout, or other labor disturbance exists among their employees. Under this act provision is made for the determination of the "normality of business' after the strike has presumably ended. By Acts, 1875, Chapter 211, Section 2, it was provided that no person shall, by intimidation or force, prevent or seek to prevent a person from entering into or continuing in the employment of any person or corporation, and by Acts, 1913, Chapter 690, it was further provided that "peaceful picketing" and attempts to persuade, by printing or otherwise, any persons "to pursue any line of conduct not unlawful or actionable or in violation of any marital or other legal duty" would be permitted. Other provisions relative to the employment of special police officers by employers and police protection generally need not be mentioned specifically here. But one of the most important statutes affecting the issuance by courts of equity of injunctions is to be found in Acts, 1914, Chapter 778. This statute provided, in brief, that no restraining order or injunction should be granted by any court or judge in the Commonwealth "unless such order or injunction be necessary to prevent irreparable injury to property or to a property right of the party making the application, for which there is no adequate remedy at law . . and that in "construing this act, the right to enter into the relation of employer and employee, to change that relation, and to assume and create a new relation for employer and employee, and to perform and carry on business in such relation with any person in any place, or to do work and labor as an employee, shall be held and construed to be a personal and not a property right." Upon appeal to the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth in a very recent case (Bogni v. Perotti), see post, page 185, the court found this statute to be unconstitutional, thus restoring to employers as well as to employees the previous status of the law on these matters, as found in court decisions.
The material presented in this report was compiled by Mr. Frederick J. deSloovere of the Boston bar, who for some time was connected with this Bureau in the capacity of Legal Assistant in the Labor Division.