American Federation of Musicians of United States and Canada v. Carroll/Dissent Douglas

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United States Supreme Court

391 U.S. 99

American Federation of Musicians of United States and Canada  v.  Carroll

 Argued: March 4, 1968. --- Decided: May 20, 1968

Mr. Justice Douglas, dissenting in Jewel Tea and joined by Justices Black and Clark, wrote:

'(T)he unions can no more aid a group of businessmen to force their competitors to follow uniform store marketing hours than to force them to sell at fixed prices. Both practices take away the freedom of traders to carry on their business in their own competitive fashion.' 381 U.S., at 737, 85 S.Ct., at 1607. [7]

Unions are, of course, not without interest in the prices at which employers sell. As the majority points out, by seeing that employers sell at prices covering all their costs, a union can insure employer solvency and make more certain employee collection of wages owed them. In addition, assuring that competing employers charge at least a minimum price prevents price competition from exerting downward pressure on wages. On the other hand, price competition, a significant aid to satisfactory resource allocation and a deterrent to inflation, would be substantially diminished if industry-wide unions were free to dictate uniform prices through agreements with employers. [8] I have always thought that this strong policy outweighed the legitimate union interest in the prices at which employers sell, and until today I had thought that the Court agreed. Of course the lack of discussion of this question in the majority's opinion, and the failure to refer to the unanimous rejection in Jewel Tea of antitrust immunity for union efforts to fix industry-wide prices, suggest that the Court takes this step without full awareness of the implications and the likely consequences. The step is nonetheless disturbing, and I must record my dissent.

I am also in disagreement with the majority about certain of the questions presented in No. 310. The musicians union imposes its rules not only on respondents, who sometimes lead and sometimes hire subleaders, but upon leaders who never lead personally. These leaders are merely independent businessmen, performing no 'labor group' work, and the union has no proper interest in regulating their activities. Even though the District Court found that the union imposed its rules on these leaders. I believe the facts as found below demonstrate that the union formed a combination with those independent businessmen. [9] If the union and employers combined, I have no doubt that some of the regulations agreed upon were unlawful restraints of trade. Boycotting booking agents and caterers who occasionally did business with employers not living by the union's rules unreasonably restrained trade. So also did combining with willing caterers and booking agents to impose uniform business practices on bandleaders and to boycott those who did not abide by the established rules and policies. Agreeing with employers that the employers would not take their wares to other cities without charging prices 10% higher than the local employers charged was a blatant violation of the Sherman Act. Horizontal division of territories has always been held a per se violation of § 1, e.g., Addyston Pipe & Steel Co. v. United States, 175 U.S. 211, 20 S.Ct. 96, 44 L.Ed. 136 (1899), and it should make no difference that the instigation for this division came from the union and not from the employers. I am unable to see how the practice at issue here is distinguishable from an agreement by General Motors and Ford, at the behest of the UAW, for GM to sell west of the Mississippi only at prices 10% higher than those charged by Ford, while Ford would sell in the East only at prices higher than GM's. Since union combinations with nonlabor groups which restrain trade are not immune from antitrust attack, Allen Bradley Co. v. Union Local 3, etc., 325 U.S. 797, 65 S.Ct. 1533, 89 L.Ed. 1939 (1945); United Mine Workers of America v. Pennington, 381 U.S. 657, 85 S.Ct. 1585, 14 L.Ed.2d 626 (1965), I think respondents should be permitted to show that these unlawful and unimmunized restraints of trade injured them, and should be able to recover the trebled amount of such damages as they can establish.

By combining with a nonlabor group, the musicians union has obtained effective control of the entire club-date industry. The device for this control has been imposition of union membership and union rules on cooperating bandleaders, and on some who did not want to co-operate. I am sure the Clayton and Norris-LaGuardia Acts never intended to give unions this kind of stranglehold on any industry. It may be that the Court views this industry as having special problems of supply and demand requiring special treatment under the antitrust laws. If this is the case, the Court should frankly say so and seek to confine the misguided rules of law it announces. More appropriately, the Court should leave to Congress the task of making special provisions in the antitrust laws for the special circumstances of the music industry. On more than one occasion Congress has seen to it that the full rigors of the antitrust laws are not felt by industries which cannot survive under competitive conditions. [10] The Court treads dangerous ground in seeking on its own motion to deny to a particular industry the normal competitive conditions envisioned by the antitrust laws, conditions usually viewed as essential for maintaining service and prices at satisfactory levels.


^7  As one commentator has concluded, 'Although the Court split on the application of this proposition, all the justices agreed that the antitrust laws would be offended by a collective bargaining agreement binding employers to charge a certain price for their goods.' P. Areeda, Antitrust Analysis 52 (1967). See also United Mine Workers of America v. Pennington, 381 U.S. 657, 663, 85 S.Ct. 1585, 1589, 14 L.Ed.2d 626 (1965): 'If the UMW in this case, in order to protect its wage scale by maintaining employer income, had presented a set of prices at which the mine operators would be required to sell their coal, the union and the employers who happened to agree could not successfully defend this contract provision if it were challenged under the antitrust laws by the United States or by some party injured by the arrangement.'

^8  See J. T. Dunlop, Wage Determination Under Trade Unions (1950); C. E. Lindblom, Unions and Capitalism (1949); E. S. Mason, Economic Concentration and the Monopoly Problem (1957).

^9  United States v. Parke, Davis & Co., 362 U.S. 29, 80 S.Ct. 503, 4 L.Ed.2d 505 (1960). See also Albrecht v. Herald Co., 390 U.S. 145, 150, n. 6, 88 S.Ct. 869, 872, 19 L.Ed.2d 998 (1968). I cannot believe that the Court intends its n. 8 to hold that unilateral demands, enforced by threats, combined with willing cooperation or reluctant acquiescence by leaders (who may join the union and in any event obey its rules), cannot amount to a combination in restraint of trade.

^10  E.g., § 1 of the Capper-Volstead Act, 42 Stat. 388, 7 U.S.C. § 291 (agricultural co-operatives); § 2 of the Webb-Pomerene Act, 40 Stat. 517, 15 U.S.C. § 62 (foreign trade associations); § 6(b)(1) of the Act of Nov. 8, 1966, 80 Stat. 1515, 15 U.S.C. § 1291 (1964 ed., Supp. II) (joint agreements by professional football clubs).

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).