National Labor Relations Board v. Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company
LOCATION: Leon County Jailhouse

DOCKET NO.: 216
DECIDED BY:
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 388 US 175 (1967)
ARGUED: Mar 15, 1967
DECIDED: Jun 12, 1967

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 15, 1967 in National Labor Relations Board v. Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company

Earl Warren:

Number 216, National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner, versus Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company et al.

Mr. Solicitor General.

Thurgood Marshall:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This is a review of a judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit where that Court sitting en banc in a four to three vote, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed of unfair labor practice charged by the Allis-Chalmers Company against two locals of the United Automobile Workers Union.

This was based on the unions imposing fines upon union members who crossed the union picket lines during several two strikes.

The facts are as follows.

Locals 248 and 401 of the UAW for many years represented the employees of Allis-Chalmers, two plants in particular, the West Allis and the La Crosse both in Wisconsin plants.

In 1959 and again in 1962, each of these locals called economic strikes against the company in furtherance of its contract demands.

The 1959 strike lasted about two months, from February 2 to April 19 and during that strike, 175 employees out of a unit of some 7400 crossed the picket lines at West Allis, and two at La Crosse.

The 1962 strike lasted about a week and during that strike, 30 out of a unit of 5500 or so crossed the line.

In accordance with the procedure specified in the union's constitution and bylaws, these strike working members were found by Union Trial Board to have engaged in "Conduct unbecoming a union member" and they were fined amounts ranging from $20 to $100 each.

Some members paid the fines and others refused to pay.

And the union commenced actions and to collect the fines in the state courts in Wisconsin, and one case was used as a test case, and the union obtained the judgment against a member who had crossed the line and had refused to pay the fine.

And the opinion of the Wisconsin intermediate appellate court which upheld this judgment of the trial court is set forth in the appendix to our main brief.

The opinion of the trial court is not in our record but it is in the record that's deposited with the Court.

This particular case is now pending in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and so far as I know it's not yet been decided.

None of the strike-making members has been expelled.

None of them had been suspended from the union, nor if any of them resigned because of the fines.

On the other hand, the union has done nothing whatsoever in any way to affect the employment status of these members who were fined.

And so the question here is whether the union fining of these members for crossing the picket line and the subsequent attempt to collect the fines by court action constitutes a violation of Section 8 (b) (1) (A) of the National Labor Relations Act which makes it an unfair labor practice for a union to restrain or coerce employees and the exercise of a right guaranteed by Section 7 of the Act.

Section 7 in turn gives employees the right both to engage and to refrain from engaging in concerted union activities.

The Board itself where its member lead them dissenting, held that the union conduct complained of by the company did not violate Section 8 (b) (1) (A), and upon the company's petition for review to the Seventh Circuit, a panel of judges, Judges Kiley, Judge Knoch and Judge Castle upheld the Board's dismissal of the charges.

Upon rehearing on en banc, the Court withdrew the panel's original decision and held with Chief Judge Hastings and Judges Kiley and Swygert dissenting that the union action did constitute an unfair labor practice under the Act.

The Court accordingly set aside the Board's order and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Here, we are dealing with something that I doubt anyone will dispute is vital to the unions, vital to all unions, to their effectiveness as collective bargaining agents.

We think the legislative history of the Act makes clear that Congress did not intend to proscribe the union disciplinary conduct here involved.

And that the limited scope of Section 8 (b) (1) (A) is confirmed by provisions of the later labor management reporting in Disclosure Act of 1959, as well as by practical considerations of effective unionism within the context of the federal labor laws.

We also contend that no violation of Section 8 (b) (1) (A) was established because the fined union member employees were not deprived of any right protected by Section 7 since they had already opted against refraining from concerted activities by merely being members of -- becoming members of the union.

We acknowledge of course that the fine --

Potter Stewart:

Well, how far does that go?