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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

As Commissioner Casey testified in the C.I.O. case, the police decided when there was a strike and when there was not. If they decided there was no strike they forbade picketing, and employers obtained injunctions from the New Jersey courts forbidding all sorts of union activities. The committee quoted above also commented upon these injunctions:

Fantastically sweeping injunctions have been obtained against strikers. Most of these injunctions prevent the exercise by strikers of constitutionally guaranteed rights, and lawful conduct is enjoined as well as unlawful. In many cases these injunctions are granted without notice, and upon affidavits which do not substantiate the allegations in the complaint and which do not warrant the drastic relief given. (Report (1937), p. 5.)
The chancery court worked rapidly to turn out injunctions. At a strike of the Caldes Restaurant in 1937, for example, the men walked out at 11.50 A.M. and at 11.57 they were served with an injunction against the strike. The restraints ran from A to Q. Apparently the court had examined affidavits and drawn up the long injunction in seven minutes. (Ibid., p. 17.) Other injunctions were issued against picketing, against holding union meetings, and against handing out circulars.

For a number of years the State Federation of Labor, no longer under the influence of Brandle, attempted to get the legislature to pass a state anti-injunction bill such as the federal Morris-La Guardia Act. The bill annually passed the lower house, only to die in the state senate. In 1936 Mayor Hague came out openly against the bill in a public letter to Senator Edward P. Stout of Hudson County which shows the Mayor's motive in his anti-union activity. `The analysis [of the bill] which I have caused to be made,' he wrote, `convinces me that its passage would not be in the best interests of this state.... Its enactment would not alone discourage new industries from coming here, but will surely drive out hundreds of others now located in New Jersey....' The bill did not pass.

The New Jersey Disorderly Persons Act of 1936 gave the police wide leeway in arresting strikers. This act permitted the arrest of any person `on foot or in any automobile, vehicle, or public conveyance who cannot give a good account of himself.' Inability to give a good account of himself `shall be prima facie evidence that he is present in this State for an unlawful purpose.' Under this act pickets were arrested and kept in jail for ninety days, and others were arrested and kept in jail for want of bail of $2500 each until a strike was broken. (Report of the Committee on Civil Rights of the Junior Bar Conference of the American Bar Association (1938), pp. 16-17.)


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