Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America, Local No. 427, AFL v. Fairlawn Meats, Inc.

PETITIONER: Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America, Local No. 427, AFL
RESPONDENT: Fairlawn Meats, Inc.
LOCATION: Congress

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 353 US 20 (1957)
ARGUED: Jan 16, 1957
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1957

Facts of the case


Media for Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America, Local No. 427, AFL v. Fairlawn Meats, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1957 in Amalgamated Meat Cutters & Butcher Workmen of North America, Local No. 427, AFL v. Fairlawn Meats, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 41, Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, etcetera, et al., versus Fairlawn Meats Incorporated.

Mr. Ratner.

Mozart G. Ratner:

May it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio which sustained the issuance of an injunction, permanently prohibiting petitioners peacefully from picketing at Fairlawn's three stores.

In the operation of those three stores, Fairlawn annually imports or causes to be imported from states other than the State of Ohio merchandise -- merchandise valued at approximately $300,000 each year.

Under the familiar test annunciated by this Court that importation of that quantity of merchandise would be sufficient to establish that Fairlawn's operations are subject to the National Labor Relations Act.

However, because Fairlawn does not import as much as a million dollars worth of goods merchandise directly or $2 million worth of merchandise annually, indirectly from out of the State, the National Labor Relations Board currently would decline for budgetary or other reasons as the Tenth Circuit recently put it best known to the NLRB to assert its jurisdiction over enterprises which fall in the category of the Fairlawn Meats Incorporated.

The State of Ohio has no statute comparable to the Taft-Hartley Act.

Accordingly, it would be impossible for the National Labor Relations Board under the proviso to Section 10 (a) of the Taft-Hartley Act to see this jurisdiction which at best declines to assert to the State of Ohio.

We'll return to Section 10 (a) in just a moment, after canvassing briefly the extent to which Ohio's Labor policy as it was applied in this case, parallels and overlaps in the extent to which it is in conflict, which the policies that Congress would have Taft-Hartley Act determine should be applicable to disputes of this kind.

In one respect, Ohio -- Ohio's policy is identical with the policy of the Taft-Hartley Act.

A strike or picket, which has as it's object compelling an employer to enter into a union shop agreement at a time when a labor organization represents only a minority of the employer's employees is regarded by Ohio is unlawful.

Under the National Labor Relations Act that is an unfair labor practice.

However, when the National Board finds that that is the purpose of a particular strike or picketing, although it issues a cease and desist order, it is very careful to limit the scope of it's cease and desist order so as to leave the union free while it is a minority to engage in peaceful picketing for other than that purpose namely specifically, to engage in peaceful picketing for organizational purposes or to obtain recognition.

And the reason it does so is very clear.

The legislative history of the Taft-Hartley Act makes it perfectly blank that Congress intended to permit labor organizations while they are minorities to engage in strikes and peaceful picketing for organizational purposes and to obtain recognition.

Accordingly, even if we assume in this case that the National Labor Relations Board had made the same -- would have made had it handled the case.

The identical findings to the purpose of the strike and picketing that the courts below made in this case.

The Ohio decree is much, much broader than a decree which the Board would have entered on this finding.

But because the Ohio courts operating in their common law sphere, function in a framework of policy so completely different from a policy framework within which the National Labor Relations Board functions, it is not at all clear that this case would have been treated in at all the same fashion, had the National Labor Relations Board considered it under the rules which Congress decided should apply to enterprises whose labor relations affect interstate commerce.

If the National Labor Relations Board had entertained this case, it would unquestionably have found and condemned as unfair labor practices, the acts of interference and coercion engaged in by Fairlawn Meats for the purpose of inducing its employees to repudiate the union, including the circulation by supervisory employees on company time and property of petitions which the employees were asked by the supervisor to sign repudiating the union.

This is a classic kind of unfair labor practice.

And also, the Board would have condemned this an unfair labor practice as constructive discharges.

Fairlawn's action inducing employees who had joined the union to resign from its employment on the ground that union membership was incompatible with loyalty to an employment by Fairlawn Meats.

Indeed if the Board had handled this case, instead of an injunction, restraining the union from peaceful picketing and from strike, the Board would probably have issued an order compelling Fairlawn to cease and desist from its unfair labor practices and to have bargained collectively in good faith with the union.

Ohio says however, that it must be free to apply its inconsistent policies to this dispute, because it -- it is not free to do that.

There will be a no man's land, in which this economic conflict between these parties, the local union of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Fairlawn Meats will go entirely unregulated by any governmental authority.

That is the nub of this case and it is the thread that ties this case to the companion cases which follow.

Now the Congress which passed the Taft-Hartley Act was familiar with this no man's land problem which is created when the National Labor Relations Board for reasons of budget or other administrative considerations declines to assert its jurisdiction over an employer whose activities in the interstate commerce bring him within the scope and coverage --

Is there --