H. K. Porter Company, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

PETITIONER: H. K. Porter Company, Inc.
RESPONDENT: National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Dodge County Juvenile Court

DOCKET NO.: 230
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1969-1970)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 397 US 99 (1970)
ARGUED: Jan 15, 1970
DECIDED: Mar 02, 1970

Facts of the case

Question

Media for H. K. Porter Company, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 15, 1970 in H. K. Porter Company, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

Warren E. Burger:

Number 230, Porter Company against the National Labor Relations Board.

Please give us a moment if you will counsel.

Mr. Winson, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Donald C. Winson:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This case is before the Court on short certiorari to review a per curiam order of the Court of Appeals for District of Columbia which enforce a supplemental order of National Labor Relations Board.

The Board's order was entered that gives the petitioner H. K. Porter Company supposedly as a remedy for bad-faith bargaining in violation of Section 885 of the National Labor Relations Act.

More specifically, the company was found to have refused to agree to a union's demand for a dues checkoff provision for the purpose of frustrating an agreement with the union.

The Board supplemental order which is the focal point of this controversy before this Court requires the company to “grant to the union a contract clause providing for the checkoff of union dues.”

The very precise, very clear cut issue now presented is whether the Board under the National Labor Relations Act has the power to order a party to agree to a substantive provision of a collective-bargaining agreement.

The company of course takes position that Board has not has such power.

The Board now says that it has the power to order agreement to a substantive provision.

The bargaining that's actually involved in this case --

Hugo L. Black:

What substantive provision?

Donald C. Winson:

The substantive provision Mr. Justice Black was a dues checkoff provision -- a provision of course and a collective-bargaining agreement by which the company pays and assist the union in the collection of dues by deducting the due -- union dues from the employees’ wages and then transmits them to the union.

Warren E. Burger:

In other words that the Board said that this was a demand of the union to which the company must agree?

Donald C. Winson:

The way the case worked out Mr. Justice -- Mr. Chief Justice, it actually worked that way.

The Court of Appeals is actually if I may say so the instigator of the remedy here is as to what has occurred.

This case went through the Examiner.

The Examiner recommended the general bargaining order.

The case then went up to the Board, the Board adopted the general bargaining order, it went to the District of Columbia Circuit.

The District of Columbia Circuit enforced and refused the union's request for a direct order which we are now arguing about which was later entered but on the first time up the District of Columbia rejected the union’s petition, District of Columbia Circuit Court.

Then, after that occurred, we filed a petition for certiorari with this Court.

We took the position that because of the wording used in the opinion, it seemed to us that the Court of Appeals was telling us if you want to avoid contempt, you had better agree without any further talking.

Well, when the Court -- when this Court denied our petition for cert, we then took the interpretation which we felt we had to under the laws.

We interpret the law that the general bargaining order required us to bargain over a dues collection system but not simply to walk in and agree.

The union took the position of those subsequent negotiations said, no Porter you are now required to agree and we don’t have to talk to you any more about it.

You are required to agree to do dues checkoff provision.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, did not the original opinion of the Court of Appeals suggest that very thing.

Donald C. Winson:

It suggested that in order to avoid contempt.

The Court could not see how we could avoid agreeing.