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Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41 (1938)

Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp.,

No. 181

Argued January 5, 1938

Decided January 31, 1938*

303 U.S. 41


1. The National Labor Relations Board, upon a charge made to it, issued a complaint against a corporation engaged at the plant involved, in the building and sale of ships, boats, and marine equipment. The complaint alleged that the corporation dominated and interfered, in a manner described, with a labor organization of its employees, and was thus engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act of July 5, 1935. The corporation was given notice of a hearing to be had upon the complaint.


(1) That the District Court had no jurisdiction of a suit by the corporation to enjoin the Board from holding the hearing. P. 303 U. S. 47.

Page 303 U. S. 42

The bill alleged that the business of the company at the plant affected, and the sale of its products, were not in interstate or foreign commerce; that the holding of the hearings would be futile, and would irreparably damage the company, by expense and inconvenience, impairment of the goodwill and harmonious relations existing between it and its employees, and lowered efficiency of its operations.

(2) That the District Court had no jurisdiction of a suit by employees of the corporation who were officers of a labor organization at the plant to enjoin the Board from holding the hearing, the bill in this case alleging further that the employees are satisfied with their existing contracts of employment, and desire to retain the existing plan of representation without change; that the holding of the proposed hearing will discredit the plan and destroy its usefulness to the employees; that they will be deprived of their right to negotiate by the method of their choice, the value of which has been proved by years of operation; that alteration of the plan will cause dissatisfaction among the employees; that operation of plant will be disrupted by labor disturbances; that employment will be interrupted, and that the damage to the employees will be irreparable. P. 303 U. S. 53.

2. In the National Labor Relations Act, Congress provided for appropriate procedure before the Labor Board and an adequate opportunity, through review by the Circuit Court of Appeals, to secure judicial protection against possible illegal action by the Board, and the grant to the Board and the Circuit Court of Appeals of exclusive jurisdiction "to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice affecting commerce" is constitutional. P. 303 U. S. 48.

3. The conclusion that the District Court is without jurisdiction to enjoin the holding of a hearing by the Labor Board, even though it be claimed that interstate or foreign commerce is not involved and that the holding of a hearing would cause irreparable injury, does not deny any rights guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. P. 303 U. S. 50.

4. The rule requiring exhaustion of the administrative remedy cannot be circumvented by a claim that the charge on which the complaint rests is groundless, and that the mere holding of the prescribed administrative hearing would result in irreparable damage. P. 303 U. S. 51.

5. The general rule that the decree of a District Court granting or denying a preliminary injunction will not be disturbed on appeal

Page 303 U. S. 43

has no application where there is an insuperable objection in point of jurisdiction to the maintenance of the suit, and where it clearly appears that the decree was the result of an improvident exercise of judicial power. In such case, dismissal of the bill should be directed. P. 303 U. S. 52.

88 F.2d 154, 89 id. 1000, reversed.

Certiorari, 302 U.S. 667, to review decrees affirming decrees of the District Court in two cases, 15 F.Supp. 915, heard together below. The decrees granted preliminary injunctions restraining the holding of a hearing by the National Labor Relations Board.

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