Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

PETITIONER: Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association
RESPONDENT: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
LOCATION: Court in Ouachita County

DOCKET NO.: 84-1656
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 478 US 421 (1986)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1986
DECIDED: Jul 02, 1986

ADVOCATES:
Martin R. Gold - Argued the cause for the petitioners
O. Peter Sherwood - Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

In 1975, a federal district court found the Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers Union guilty of racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court established a 29 percent minority membership goal and ordered the union to implement procedures to meet the goal. In 1982 and 1983, the union was found guilty of civil contempt for disobeying the court orders. The court then established a 29.23 percent nonwhite membership goal to be met by August 1987.

Question

Did provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 empower courts to order race-conscious membership quotas?

Media for Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1986 in Local 28 of the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Martin R. Gold:

They are going to take 100 people, they are going to take 55 whites and 45 non-whites.

O. Peter Sherwood:

It required that they meet the 29 percent.

Yes, but the 55 whites who they believe are the best qualified.

O. Peter Sherwood:

It currently says they ought to meet the 29 percent by the middle of 1986.

Martin R. Gold:

Are the best qualified.

O. Peter Sherwood:

At one point in the past it said that they were to meet it by the middle of 1981, and it was then changed to 1982 because of conditions in the industry.

And similarly with the blacks.

O. Peter Sherwood:

And if there is evidence in the record--

Martin R. Gold:

Yes.

Well, if the union had complied with all of the acts, all of the orders that they had been held in contempt for disobeying, would there have been any greater chance of achieving the goal or quota or whatever you call it?

But they don't compare the two lists.

O. Peter Sherwood:

--I cannot say that they would have achieved it.

Martin R. Gold:

They don't compare the two lists.

O. Peter Sherwood:

I can say with certainty that they would have been much further along the road, and it is for foot-dragging that they were held in contempt, not for not reaching the goal.

Martin R. Gold:

If they compared the two lists, it would not come out 55-45.

O. Peter Sherwood:

It is important, too, to see what the District Court did here.

This is to get into the apprentice program.

O. Peter Sherwood:

The District Court ordered the union to not artificially close down the size of the apprenticeship program, and it is in order to provide greater opportunities for minorities to enter into the trade, and also to limit the impact of the court's order on third parties who are seeking to enter the--

Martin R. Gold:

That's right, which everybody acknowledges is today by far the major avenue into this union.

Is the 29 percent union membership or part of the apprenticeship program?

Martin R. Gold:

But the result of what has happened here is, who are these people that want to be admitted now?

It is the union membership.

Martin R. Gold:

By no means are these the victims of past discrimination.

O. Peter Sherwood:

--Twenty-nine percent membership, which includes both journeymen and apprentices.

Martin R. Gold:

You can't look at this case to expand that meaning in any way and come to that position.

O. Peter Sherwood:

The number is... they are lumped together for purposes of making that calculation.

Martin R. Gold:

These are young people who are coming into the work force who are about 18 years old.

Can I ask you, Judge Winter said this, and I am sure you are aware of it, in dissent:

Who is on this board?

"However, in light of the facts that large numbers of journeymen did not work during the period in question, or only worked meager hours, reactive fingerpointing at Local 28 is faintly camouflaged holding that journeymen should have been replaced by minority apprentices on a strictly racial basis."