CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT.
Douglas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, C. J., and Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, Powell, and Rehnquist, JJ., joined. Burger, C. J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 218. Blackmun, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 218.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent is a union that had a collective-bargaining agreement with an employer which contained a maintenance-of-membership clause providing that members were, as a condition of employment, to remain in good standing "as to payment of dues" for the duration of the contract. Neither the contract nor the Union's constitution or bylaws contained any provision defining or limiting the circumstances under which a member could resign. A few days before the collective agreement expired, the Union membership voted to strike if no agreement was reached by a given date. No agreement was reached in the specified period, so the strike and attendant picketing commenced. Shortly thereafter, the Union held a meeting at which the membership resolved that any member aiding or abetting the employer during the strike would be subject to a $2,000 fine.
About six weeks later, two members sent the Union their letters of resignation. Six months or more later, 29 other members resigned. These 31 employees returned to work.
The Union gave them notice that charges had been made against them and that on given dates the Union would hold trials. None of the 31 employees appeared on the dates prescribed; but the trials nonetheless took place even in the absence of the employees and fines were imposed on all.*fn1 Suits were filed by the Union to collect the fines. But the outcome was not determined because the employees filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the Union.
The unfair labor practice charged was that the Union restrained or coerced the employees "in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7."*fn2 See § 8 (b)(1) of the Act.*fn3 The Board ruled that the Union had violated § 8 (b)(1). 187 N. L. R. B. 636. The Court of Appeals denied enforcement of the Board's order. 446 F.2d 369. The case is here on certiorari, 405 U.S. 987.
We held in NLRB v. Allis-Chalmers Mfg. Co., 388 U.S. 175, that a union did not violate § 8 (b)(1) by fining members who went to work during a lawful strike authorized by the membership and by suing to collect the fines. The Court reviewed at length in that opinion the legislative history of §§ 7 and 8 (b)(1), and concluded by a close majority vote that the disciplinary measures taken by the union against its members on those facts were within the ambit of the union's control over its internal affairs. But the sanctions allowed were against those who "enjoyed full union membership." Id., at 196.
Yet when a member lawfully resigns from the union, its power over him ends. We noted in Scofield v. NLRB, 394 U.S. 423, 429,
that if a union rule "invades or frustrates an overriding policy of the labor laws the rule may not be enforced, even by fine or expulsion, without violating § 8 (b)(1)." On the facts, we held that Scofield, where fines were imposed on members by the union, fell within the ambit of Allis-Chalmers. But we drew the line between permissible and impermissible union action against members as follows:
". . . § 8 (b)(1) leaves a union free to enforce a properly adopted rule which reflects a legitimate union interest, impairs no policy Congress has imbedded in the labor laws, and is reasonably enforced against union members who ...