Mastro Plastics Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board

PETITIONER: Mastro Plastics Corporation
RESPONDENT: National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Pittsburgh Party Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 19
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 350 US 270 (1956)
ARGUED: Oct 17, 1955
DECIDED: Feb 27, 1956

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Mastro Plastics Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 17, 1955 in Mastro Plastics Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 27, 1956 in Mastro Plastics Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board

Mr. Attorney General:

-- mill workers promptly intervene and asked that it be certified.

Mastro, at first, had the corporation of its employees, who would do there membership from their presently designated representative, the carpenters, and joined 318.

However, this did not last long.

Many of the employees return to the carpenters and then actively resisted the further efforts of Mastro to -- to favor 318.

Mastro, nevertheless, continued his effort.

It paid its employees for the time spent in the campaign and its supervisors threatened its employees of discharge unless they cooperate with it.

Obviously, Mastro's conduct, whatever its motive may have been, amounted to flagrant unfair labor practice, and thus, taking to induce its employees to abandon the representative of their own choice in favor of number 318, chosen for them by their employer.

Finally, when an employee over for four years standing were discharged by Mastro on November 10th, 1950, because of his insistence adherence -- its insistence adherence to the carpenters and because of his unwillingness to campaign for 318, many of Mastro's employees at once went on strike.

The record merely shows and the Board leader found specifically that this strike was solely in protest against the employers' unfair labor practices in this representation campaign and not in furtherance of any economic demand.

The strike involved no violence, and in due cause, the carpenters filed their charges in the Labor Board complaining of Mastro's unfair labor practices.

The result was that Local 65 and 318 withdrew their proceedings.

The carpenters filed their petition for certification and the Board postponed all elections until -- in a more appropriate time and the general counsel filed the carpenters' complaint against Mastro's alleged unfair labor practices, and then filed the complaint based on the charges made by the carpenters.

That complaint asked for the reinstatement with back pay of the employees who would struck in protest against Mastro's practices and would not been reinstated, although they had offered to return long ago.

In answer to this, to -- to the Board's complaint, Mastro has then opposed two affirmative defenses.

First, it claims that the employees by striking have violated the strike-waiver clause in their existing contract, thus, losing their right to reinstatement.

And second, that also, under Section 8 (d) of the Act, they have, by striking loss all right to reinstatement.

The trial examiner made detailed findings and recommended that Mastro be ordered to cease and desist its course of practices and grant full reinstatement with back pay to the discharged employees.

The Board adopted the examiner's recommendations and the Court of Appeals, for the Second Circuit, followed the Board.

Since then, the Court of Appeals in the Seventh Circuit had restated similar conclusion because the importance of the case were granted certiorari.

Mastro's first defense is that its existing collective bargaining contract with the -- with the carpenters was made to cover the year beginning, December 1st, 1949.

Accordingly, that contract had 20 days to run when the strike began on November 10.

And Mastro now argues that until November 30th, the strike-waiver clause in that contract precluded the employees from striking not only for modifications and their economic relations, such as recovered by that contract, but for any reason even against that flagrantly unfair labor practices, as occurred here, seeking to oust the employees duly designated bargaining representative.

In support of its contention, Mastro points to the precise words of the waiver clause in its contract.

Mastro claims that the clause waives the employees' right to strike, even under the most provocative unfair labor practices because the clause says, "The union further agrees to refrain from engaging in any strike by work stoppage during the term of this agreement."

The Board and the Court of Appeals recognized that if read and complete isolation, such words may be so interpreted as waiving for one year, the employees right to strike for any cause, whatsoever.

On the other hand, the Board and the Court of Appeals point out that these words must be read in the light of the rest of the contract in which they appear under the existing law the time of the contract was made.

They point out that the Labor Relations Act is amended and in effect at that time at a dual purpose, first, to assure a freedom of effective negotiation between employees and there employers, and second, to adjust the economic differences by collective bargaining without suffering avoidable interruptions of their production.

Under that Act, it is natural and common fractures, therefore, for a fairly negotiated collective bargaining contract to provide that wages, hours of work, and other conditions of employment thus negotiated continue as they were for at least a year.

And it provide that no strike or work stoppage should be engaged in to order those terms during the light of that agreement.

In other words, they agree to leave such matters to peaceful negotiations.