Labor Law–Until Congress Acts, Secondary Picketing by Unions Subject to the Railway Labor Act Is Protected Against State Proscription–Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Jacksonville Terminal Company

In a major labor dispute between the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen and the Florida East Coast Railway Company (FEC), the parties, having exhausted all the procedures of the Railway Labor Act (RLA) for resolving a major dispute, resorted to self-help remedies. FEC unilaterally changed its operating employees’ rates of pay, rules, and working conditions; and the union, in turn, called a strike and picketed peacefully at locations where FEC operated, including the premises of the Jacksonville Terminal Company, which served a number of other railroads. The avowed objective of the union’s picketing was to cause the other carriers using the terminal to cease interchanging with the FEC. It was an attempt to “elicit a secondary boycott of the FEC … , [a boycott] which depended for its success upon the aid of the … [other companies’] employees in refusing to cross … [the union’s] picket lines.” A federal district court enjoined all picketing on the terminal premises except that which was restricted to a “reserved gate” set aside for FEC employees. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the Norris-LaGuardia Act barred issuance of a federal injunction, and its decision was affirmed by an equally divided Supreme Court.