RESPONDENT: National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Criminal District Court, Parish of New Orleans
DOCKET NO.: 14
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
CITATION: 379 US 203 (1964)
ARGUED: Oct 19, 1964
DECIDED: Dec 14, 1964
Facts of the case
Media for Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 19, 1964 in Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board
Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation, Petitioner, versus National Labor Relations Board.
Mr. Plant, you may proceed with your argument.
Marion B. Plant:
May it please the Court.
This case is here on certiorari to the District of Columbia Circuit.
The certiorari was granted on two questions which were set forth in the petition as follows:
One, was petitioner required by the National Labor Relations Act to bargain with a union representing some of its employees about whether to let to an independent contractor for legitimate business reasons, the performance of certain operations in which those employees had been engaged.
Two, was the Board in a case involving only a refusal to bargain empowered to order the resumption of operations which had been discontinued for legitimate business reasons and reinstatement with back pay of the individuals formally employed therein.
The petitioner is Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation, and to avoid myself getting mixed up between petitioner and respondent, I will, if it please the Court, refer to the petitioner as Fibreboard.
Fibreboard owns or did own in 1959 a number of manufacturing plants on the Pacific Coast and in some offshore states.
One of those plants was located at Emeryville, California.
There were 13 unions in the plant.
Five of them represented one or another unit of maintenance workers.
The largest unit of maintenance workers was represented by a local of the steel workers, which is the union involved in this case.
For some years, Fibreboard had been concerned about the high cost of its maintenance work, the work of maintaining that plant.
In 1957 and again in 1958, it had sought to persuade the union to modify its wage and other contract demands, so as to permit Fibreboard to operate and carry on these maintenance operations at the cost which would not be too high.
Those efforts had been unsuccessful.
Thereafter, it commenced a study of the possibility of affecting savings and costs by letting this work to an independent contractor specializing in plant maintenance.
The collective bargaining contract which was in effect in 1959 and by the way, Fibreboard had had collective bargaining contractual relationships with its union for 22 years, the current contract was to -- expired or at least the termination date was on July 31st, 1959.
The required 60 days before that date, the union gave notice of desire to modify that contract and shortly thereafter served upon Fibreboard proposals involving changes in every provision of the contract which affected costs, and each of those changes would have increased the costs.
Fibreboard thereafter brought its study up to date of the question of letting this work to an independent contractor and decided to do so.
It reached that decision on July 27th, 1959.
On that date, it had not yet decided who the contractor would be, but it had satisfied itself by getting figures from several and considering the problem with several, that savings and cost could be affected by that means.
Immediately and I mean within the hour, after that decision was made, the Fibreboard director of industrial relations called the local and international business agents of the union and arranged a meeting with them or a meeting with them later that day.
At that meeting he handed them a letter stating that Fibreboard had reached its decision that in view of the decision which had been reached, Fibreboard considered that negotiation of a renewed contract would be pointless but that nevertheless Fibreboard would be glad to discuss any questions the union might have.
During the course of the meeting, the director, Mr. Tuman (ph), told the business agents that he had in mind a plan for severance pay which he outlined, they had no comments upon that or any suggestions to make with respect to that question.
The conversation on that occasion was pretty much limited to assertions by the business agents that Fibreboard couldn't do it and by Tuman that Fibreboard could.
The business agents without specifying what provision of the National Labor Relations Act they have referenced too, I guess they didn't know their claim that if Fibreboard did this it would be violating the National Labor Relations Act.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Tuman was asked if he would meet with the union's negotiating committee and he said that he would.
That meeting was held on July 30.
In the meantime on July 29th, the union wrote Fibreboard a letter taking the position that its contract have been automatically renewed subject only to an obligation upon the part of Fibreboard to bargain about all of these contract changes.