Leedom v. International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers

PETITIONER: Boyd Leedom et al. Members of the National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers
LOCATION: National Labor Relations Board Region 5

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1956-1957)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 352 US 145 (1956)
ARGUED: Nov 14, 1956
DECIDED: Dec 10, 1956
GRANTED: May 28, 1956

Nathan Witt - for the respondent
Theophil C. Kammholz - for the petitioners

Facts of the case

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) required union officers to file non-communist affidavits to gain the protections of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRA also made filing a false affidavit a crime. The NLRB found that an officer of the International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelt workers had filed a false affidavit. The NLRB issued a decompliance order ceasing all protections. The union sued to enjoin the order. The district court denied relief, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed.


Does the NLRB have the power to deny its protection to unions who file false non-communist affidavits?

Media for Leedom v. International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1956 in Leedom v. International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers

Earl Warren:

Number 57, Boyd Leedom et al., as Members of the National Labor Relations Board, versus International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers.

Mr. Kammholz.

Theophil C.Kammholz:

The question presented in this case, if the Court please, is whether the Board has power to declare a union out of compliance upon a finding in a separate administrative proceeding that an officer of the union has filed false non-Communist affidavits and that the union membership was aware of their falsity.

This case arose out of proceedings before the Board in which it issued its determination and order in early 1955 to the effect that the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers was out of compliance with the 9 (h) because one Maurice Travis, Secretary-Treasurer of the organization, had filed -- excuse me -- affidavits which were false and that the membership was aware of such falsity.

By way of background, the record shows that commencing in 1949, Travis and other officers of the union had filed affidavits.

The Board had presumed them to be true and had held the union in compliance.

In 1953, in an unfair labor practice proceeding in Chicago involving prior to Scientific Precision -- involving Precision Scientific and the refusal to bargain charge against that company, the respondent company asserted among other things that at the time Travis filed his initial 1949 affidavit, he had stated publicly and there had been released in the union publication at that time a statement to the effect that he had resigned from the Communist Party solely in order that he might be able to execute the affidavits required under the Taft-Hartley law but that he nevertheless continued to adhere to the principles of communism and the Communist Party.

The Board then is now treating questions of compliance for its administrative determination and not for litigation in a representation or an unfair labor practice case, thereupon issued an order directing an administrative hearing on this question.

Specifically, it directed that the hearing be held before a Board hearing officer for the purpose of receiving evidence on two issues.

First, whether Travis in fact had admitted that the affidavits which he had filed with the Board pursuant to 9 (h) were false, and secondly, whether the membership of the union was aware of such falsity.

The -- the order also provided for opportunity for oral argument in filing the briefs with the Board.

Felix Frankfurter:

What was the -- what was decided not to be -- be about it?

Theophil C.Kammholz:

The record indicates about 100,000.

Felix Frankfurter:


And what was specifically the issue bringing the whole knowledge falsity (Inaudible)

Did the membership of the union do this?

Theophil C.Kammholz:

Yes, Your Honor.

Whether the membership of the union was aware that the Travis affidavit -- affidavits were false.

Felix Frankfurter:

And that meant a 100,000 or does it mean something else?

Theophil C.Kammholz:

General knowledge is what the record in this case would suggest, Your Honor.

Felix Frankfurter:

Well, I -- I'm not questioning how the knowledge was brought forth, whether it's the objective to the -- the issue to be ascertained whether the 100,000, whatever the -- whatever the basis, whatever the evidence has included.

100 -- it was brought over the knowledge at least undersized, this -- this issue before it happens.

And was that the issue that they put to the hearing officer?

Theophil C.Kammholz:

That was one of the issues, whether there was general knowledge by the membership.

Felix Frankfurter:

By the -- by the whole membership?

Theophil C.Kammholz:

By the membership, precisely.

The hearings were held before a hearing officer over a period of four months in 1954.

There was a full opportunity for examination, cross-examination of witnesses.

Travis did not appear.

He did not appear even in response to a subpoena ad testificandum.