Leedom v. Kyne

LOCATION: Union Station

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 358 US 184 (1958)
ARGUED: Oct 23, 1958
DECIDED: Dec 15, 1958

Facts of the case


Media for Leedom v. Kyne

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 23, 1958 in Leedom v. Kyne

Earl Warren:

Number 14, Boyd S.Leedom, et al., Petitioners, versus William Kyne, et al.

Mr. Come.


There's a preliminary matter, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:



May I move the admission pro hac vice of Mr. Jonas Silver to argue the cause on behalf of the respondent.

He is a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and of its Court of Appeals, I'm satisfied he has the necessary qualifications.

Earl Warren:

Motion is granted.

Mr. Come.

Norton J. Come:

May it please the Court.

This case is here on certiorari to the Court Of Appeals from the District of Columbia to review the judgment of that Court in affirming the District Court which had set aside a representation determination of the National Labor Relations Board.

The question presented is whether a Federal District Court has jurisdiction under its general equity powers and a part from the review provisions of the National Labor Relations Act to review a certification of bargaining representatives issued by the Board under Section 9 of the Act at the suit of a labor organization contesting the Board's action on the ground that the Board has failed to comply with statutory requirements in issuing the certification.

The underlying facts are briefly these.

Respondent, the president of a labor organization, called the Westinghouse Engineers Association filed a petition with the Board under Section 9 of the Act seeking a representation election for a group of about 233 engineers employed to the plant of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

These engineers were all professional employees within the meaning of Section 212 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Another labor organization intervened in the proceeding and sought to add certain additional groups of employees to the bargaining unit contending that they too were professional employees.

The Board found that these additional employees were sought to be added, were not professional employees within the meaning of Section 212 of the Act.

But that denying of the employees, shared a close community of interest with the 233 professional employees.

And if they worked in the same general area and under the same general supervision -- and the Board further found that the inclusion of these nine with the 233 professionals would not destroy the predominantly professional character of the unit.

So the Board directed an election in a unit consisting of the 233 professional engineers and the nine closely related nonprofessionals.

The Engineers Association protested this action contending that it violated Section 9 (b) (1) of the Act.

Section 9 (b) (1) provides that the Board shall not decide that a unit is appropriate for bargaining purposes if such unit includes both professional employees and employees who are nonprofessionals unless a majority of the professionals vote for inclusion in such unit.

Now, from the time this provision was first enacted and it came into the Act in 1947 with the Taft-Hartley, the Board on the basis of the legislative history of the provision has consistently taken the position that it was intended to apply only in a situation where it was sought to take the professionals as a minority group and include them into a larger nonprofessional unit or -- or a separate vote on their part would be necessary to give them an effective voice in selecting a representative.

And that it was not intended to apply for the situation that was presented here or the professional employees or the predominant element in the unit and a small number of closely related nonprofessionals sharing a close community of interest were sought to be included.

Is this one of those cases where you look at the legislative history first before you get to the statutes?

Norton J. Come:

No, Your Honor but it is one of those cases where if you don't look at the legislative history, you -- you sometimes lose sight of the purpose of the provision.

It was a proviso to the Board's otherwise broad discretion in defining units, and the Board tells that it was justified in looking to the -- to the purpose since it -- since it wasn't the nature of a proviso.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Well, Mr. Come, on the face of the statute, you'd have no case here.

Norton J. Come:

Well, the --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

On the face of the statute --

Norton J. Come:

On the -- on --