Black v. Cutter Laboratories

RESPONDENT: Cutter Laboratories

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)

ARGUED: Apr 26, 1956
DECIDED: Jun 04, 1956

Facts of the case


Media for Black v. Cutter Laboratories

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 26, 1956 (Part 1) in Black v. Cutter Laboratories

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 26, 1956 (Part 2) in Black v. Cutter Laboratories

Earl Warren:

You may proceed Mr. --

Joseph Forer:

Thank you, Your Honor.

I had just made the argument that the California decision violates the policy of the National Labor Relations Act because it says that certain employees, namely, employees who were Communist may not have the protection of a collective-bargaining agreement or the protection of the union benefits.

Where as, of course, the Act doesn't exclude those employees from those benefits.

Now the N.A.M. brief has raised the point of which neither the petitioner nor the respondent had briefed in their brief that if that is the case, then, they say it may will be that the arbitration award to its void for lack of jurisdiction and that the whole case was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board relying on the Garner case.

That's the big subject in itself which has not been briefed by either side if he desires a brief on that subject, we will, of course, be glad to supply it.

But I think it -- it may be enough if I just point out the following factors, showing that the Garner rule doesn't apply here.

In the first place, the arbitration procedure could stand or has an independent ground of jurisdiction other than the question of discharge for union membership and that is because one of the issues was whether the discharge was not for just cause.

In the second place, the limitations on state and events with regards to picketing or strike activity or secondary boycott activity shouldn't and don't apply to oust state remedies for violations of a collective-bargaining contract.

On the contrary, that would frustrate the purpose of the National Labor Relations Act.

The fundamental purpose of the Act is to promote collective-bargaining which, if it is successful, culminates in a contract.

Now, if this contract then can't be enforced by the ordinary remedy, then, this purpose is largely frustrated.

And in fact, it is standard union company dealings that when you do have a contract, it is customary to have the provisions against discharges without just cause and discharges for union activities.

As a matter of fact, the conference report on the Taft-Hartley Act says and I'm quoting now, “Once parties have made a collective-bargaining contract, the enforcement of that contract should be left to the usual processes of the law and not to the National Labor Relations Board.”

And if you look at Section 203 (d) of the Taft-Hartley Act, that's the section dealing with the Federal Mediation Service, there's an expressed statement that adjustment of labor disputes by a method agreed upon by the parties is the desirable method for settling grievance disputes.

And again Congress showed their intention to have traditional contractual remedies applied through the courts.

Once the collective-bargaining contract had been entered into by expanding a federal court jurisdiction so as to permit suits against labor unions under Section 301 of the Act without regard to diversity and not the controversy and so forth.

In other words, the Act shows that there is a policy of the Act in favor of utilizing traditional state remedies, traditional judicial remedies for enforcement of collective-bargaining agreement.

And as a matter of fact, recognizing this fact, the Labor Board itself has established a policy of refusing the process cases involving alleged discharges for union activity where there is a collective-bargaining contract with a binding arbitration procedure available as there was here, so that the alleged discharged union activity could be arbitrated.

As I say we haven't briefed this.

I would therefore like to cite a note which does cover the subject and does give the -- the Labor Board decisions that I have just referred to.

It's a note that 69 Harvard Law Review beginning at page 725.

Now there is one other respect in which the California decision engaged a federally occupied field.

The Internal Security Act, the constitutionality of which among other things is now pending and -- and it's under consideration by this Court as the Court is aware.

That Act prohibits members of a Communist action organization from holding employment in defense facilities designated by the Secretary of Defense.

Now the California court has gone beyond that Act and it has excluded Communist from employment in nondefense facility.

But if there's a greater conflict and inconsistency than that, in the Internal Security Act, Congress expressly provided that the employment exclusion sanction should be withheld until the registration order of the Board against the Communist Party became final by affirmance by this Court if this Court have does affirmed it.

And it allowed an escape opportunity for a member of the Communist Party to get out of the employment sanction by leaving the Communist Party.

But it was very careful to allow this state opportunity to exist after all judicial review had been exhausted in the Communist Party case.

Now, the Court may remember that that fact, the fact that there was an escape opportunity allowed after all judicial review was exhausted, was relied on very heavily in the oral argument in the Communist Party case.