Labor Dispute Injunction Case Law

The Norris-LaGuardia Act "prohibits any federal court from issuing an injunction in almost any 'labor dispute.' " (Reuter v. Skipper (9th Cir. 1993) 4 F.3d 716, 718.) That act of Congress "was based upon a recognition of the fact that the preservation of order and the protection of property in labor disputes is in the first instance a police problem, belonging to the executive rather than the judicial side of the government, and its whole intent and purpose was to remove the courts from that field, except in cases where the peace authorities failed or refused to act." (Heintz Mfg. Co. v. Local No. 515 of United Automobile Workers (E.D.Pa. 1937) 20 F. Supp. 116, 116-117.) The United States Supreme Court has observed the language of the Norris-LaGuardia Act "is broad because Congress was intent upon taking the federal courts out of the labor injunction business except in the very limited circumstances left open for federal jurisdiction under the Norris-LaGuardia Act." (Marine Cooks v. Panama S. S. Co. (1960) 362 U.S. 365, 369 80 S. Ct. 779, 783, 4 L. Ed. 2d 797.) The act's declaration of public policy states the individual worker should have "full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of his own choosing, to negotiate the terms and conditions of his employment, and that he shall be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection." (29 U.S.C. 102.) In furtherance of that end, federal courts have strictly interpreted the statutory requirements. (See, e.g., Cimarron Coal Corp. v. District No. 23, United Mine Wkrs. (6th Cir. 1969) 416 F.2d 844, 846; In re Dist. No. 1-- Pac. Coast Dist., Marine Eng'rs (D.C. Cir. 1983) 723 F.2d 70, 76-77 232 App.D.C. 367; Kenmerican Resources v. Intern. Union, U.M.W.A. (D.D.C. 1996) 911 F. Supp. 19, 23.) Such an approach is consistent with 29 United States Code section 101, which states no injunction shall issue in a case involving or growing out of a labor dispute, "except in a strict conformity with the provisions of this chapter." Thus, for a complainant to obtain an injunction under Norris-LaGuardia, there must be a proper showing that law enforcement is unwilling or unable to provide adequate protection. (29 U.S.C. 107(e).)