Booster Lodge No. 405, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO v. National Labor Relations Board

PETITIONER: Booster Lodge No. 405, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO
RESPONDENT: National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Allegheny County District Court

DOCKET NO.: 71-1417
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 412 US 84 (1973)
ARGUED: Mar 26, 1973
DECIDED: May 21, 1973

ADVOCATES:
Bernard Dunau - for Booster Lodge No. 405, etc
Norton J. Come -
Samuel Lang -

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Booster Lodge No. 405, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 26, 1973 in Booster Lodge No. 405, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO v. National Labor Relations Board

Warren E. Burger:

-- This morning in 71-1471, Booster Lodge, No. 405 and others against the National Labor Relations Board consolidated with 71-1607, National Labor Relations Board against the Boeing Co.

Mr. Dunau, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Bernard Dunau:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

There are two questions in this case.

One, where a Union rule prohibits a member from engaging in strike making – strikebreaking, may that rule be fairly, reasonably and validly interpreted to require that an employee who was a member of the Union at the time the strike began is required to observe the existing Union obligation that he had to refrain from strikebreaking for the duration of that strike, notwithstanding his resignation in the midst of the strike.

The second question we have, is whether the Labor Board is empowered to determine the reasonableness of the size of a Union fine imposed against a member for engaging in strikebreaking.

These two questions arise in these circumstances.

Boeing and Booster Lodge have a collective bargaining agreement.

It expires on September 15, 1965.

No agreement is reached.

The next day a strike begins.

The strike lasts 18 days.

On October 3, an agreement is reached, the strike ends.

There were 1,900 employees in the unit that was struck.

Of these 143 returned to work during the course of the strike, 24 never resigned.

They retained their membership throughout the strike, but engaged in strikebreaking.

119 did resign.

Of these 119, 61 returned to work after their resignation and 58 returned to work before their resignation.

All, without regard to whether they resigned or when they returned to work, were found guilty after internal union proceedings of having engaged in misconduct in violation of the Machinist constitution, which defined as misconduct of a member accepting employment in any capacity in an establishment where a strike or lockout exists as recognized under this constitution without permission.

Those accused who appeared for trial apologized and pledged future loyalty to the Union, were in substance fined 50% of their strikebreaking earnings.

What they earned from the struck employer was the measure of their fine, one-half was the fine.

Those who did not appear for trial and were found guilty, were fined a flat sum of $450.

This case came before the National Labor Relations Board on a complaint which alleged that the imposition of the fines which were Court collectible, the Union sought, threatened to institute court proceedings and did institute court proceedings to collect these fines.

The claim before the Board was that the imposition of the fines constituted restraint and coercion of the employees in the exercise of their right to refrain from concerted activity for mutual aid or protection.

The claim is divided into two parts.

As to those employees who never resigned and as to those employees who resigned, but engaged in strikebreaking prior to the resignation.

It was said that the restraint and coercion resided in the unreasonableness of the size of the fine.

It was too large and therefore it was restraint or coercion.

The Board dismissed that part of the complaint.

It said given the validity of the Union rule against strikebreaking, the size of the fine was not its business.