United Mine Workers v. Pennington

381 U.S. 657 (1965)

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United Mine Workers v. Pennington

United States Supreme Court
381 U.S. 657 (1965)

  • Written by Rose VanHofwegen, JD

Facts

Trustees of the United Mine Workers (UMW) Welfare and Retirement Fund (plaintiffs) sued Phillips Brother Coal Company and its owners (defendants) for payments allegedly due under a 1950 wage agreement. Phillips countered that the trustees and UMW had conspired with large coal operators in violation of federal antitrust laws. Before 1950, severe controversy existed in the coal-mining industry over wages, the fund, and coalminers’ working hours. According to Phillips, the parties attributed the problem to overproduction and agreed to eliminate the smaller companies, giving the larger ones control of the market. The union agreed to stop trying to control coalminer working hours, help finance rapid mechanization of mines that cut coalminer jobs, and imposed the 1950 wage agreement terms against all operators, regardless of their ability to pay. That meant UMW could demand higher wages as productivity increased, including from unmechanized smaller companies, effectively squeezing them out of the market. The jury returned a verdict awarding Phillips damages. The trial court set the award aside, but refused to grant the union judgment notwithstanding the verdict. After the appellate court affirmed, the Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence (Douglas, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Goldberg, J.)

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