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U.S. Supreme Court

Hanna Mining Co. v. Marine Engineers, 382 U.S. 181 (1965)

Hanna Mining Co. v. District 2, Marine Engineers

Beneficial Association, AFL-CIO

No. 7

Argued October 12, 1965

Decided December 6, 1965

382 U.S. 181


Petitioners (Hanna) operate cargo vessels on the Great Lakes in interstate and foreign commerce. While negotiating for a new collective bargaining agreement with respondent Association (MEBA), which represented the licensed marine engineers on the ships, petitioners assertedly were informed by a majority of the engineers that they did not wish to be represented by MEBA. Hanna declined to negotiate until MEBA's majority status was determined by secret ballot, and MEBA replied by picketing Hanna's ships at Duluth and other ports, causing dock workers to refuse to unload. Hanna turned to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): (1) it petitioned the Cleveland Regional Director to hold a representation election among its engineers to determine MEBA's status. The petition was dismissed on the ground that the engineers were "supervisors," and not "employees," under § 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB upheld this decision. (2) It filed charges with the Minneapolis Regional Director alleging that MEBA violated § 8(b)(4)(B) of the Act by inducing work stoppages among dockers at Duluth through improper secondary pressure. These charges were dismissed, and the General Counsel agreed, stating that MEBA's conduct at Duluth and other sites did not exceed the bounds of lawful picketing under the NLRB's standards. (3) It filed charges with the Cleveland Regional Director accusing MEBA of organizational or recognitional picketing prohibited by § 8(b)(7) of the Act. The General Counsel affirmed the dismissal of the charges on the ground that MEBA fell outside the section, since it sought to represent supervisors, rather than employees. When shipping resumed in the spring and MEBA picketed Hanna ships in Superior, Hanna sued in a Wisconsin circuit court for injunctive relief from the picketing under state law. The Circuit Court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the state Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, although the picketing could be deemed illegal under state law, it arguably violated §§ 8 (b)(4)(B) and chanrobles.com-red

Page 382 U. S. 182

§ 8(b)(7) of the Act, and fell within the NLRB's exclusive jurisdiction under San Diego Unions v. Garmon, 359 U. S. 236.


1. Under Garmon, a State may not regulate conduct arguably "protected by § 7, or prohibited by § 8" of the Act, and the legislative purpose may require that certain activity neither protected nor prohibited be deemed privileged against state regulation. P. 382 U. S. 187.

2. The NLRB decision that the marine engineers are supervisors and not "employees" eliminates most of the opportunities for preemption in this case. P. 382 U. S. 188.

(a) Organizational or recognitional activity aimed at supervisors cannot be protected by § 7 of the Act, arguably or otherwise. P. 382 U. S. 188.

(b) Situations in which such activity can be prohibited by the Act are fewer than would be the case if "employees" were being organized or seeking recognition. P. 382 U. S. 188.

(c) There can be no breach of § 8(b)(7), which limits organizational or recognitional picketing, since it applies only to picketing directed at "employees." P. 382 U. S. 188.

3. The enactment of §14(a) of the Act was not a congressional decision to exclude state regulation of supervisory organizing. Pp. 382 U. S. 189-190.

4. The NLRB's statement accompanying its refusal to order a representation election settles the supervisory status of the engineers "with unclouded legal significance," so as to avoid preemption in the respects discussed. P. 382 U. S. 190.

5. Section 8(b)(4)(B) does not provide a ground for preemption in the circumstances of this case. Pp. 191-194.

(a) Petitioners claim there is no arguable violation on the basis of the finding of the Regional Director and General Counsel in declining to issue a complaint under § 8(b)(4)(B) with respect to the 1962 picketing. The General Counsel has statutory "final authority, on behalf of the Board" in the issuance of complaints, and his explicated determinations are entitled to great weight. Pp. 382 U. S. 191-192.

(b) Hanna has offered to prove that the 1963 picketing at Superior was the same as the 1962 picketing at Superior, and if such proof is furnished, the chance that the picketing sought to be enjoined conceals a § 8(b)(4)(B) violation is remote. P. 382 U. S. 192. chanrobles.com-red

Page 382 U. S. 183

(c) Even if a § 8(b)(4)(B) violation were present, there would in this instance be no danger by a state injunction to interests served by the Garmon doctrine, since the workers sought to be organized are outside the scope of the Act. Pp. 382 U. S. 192-193.

(d) The presence of a § 8 (b)(4)(B) violation would not result in the NLRB's affording complete protection to the legitimate interests of the State, as the primary picketing proviso of § 8(b)(4)(B) inhibits the use of that section fully to deal with the conduct complained of in this case. P. 382 U. S. 194.

23 Wis.2d 433, 127 N.W.2d 393, reversed and remanded.


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