National Labor Relations Board v. Bell Aerospace Company

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Bell Aerospace Company
LOCATION: University of Washington Law School

DOCKET NO.: 72-1598
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 416 US 267 (1974)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1974
DECIDED: Apr 23, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Norton J. Come - for petitioner
Richard E. Moot - for respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Bell Aerospace Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1974 in National Labor Relations Board v. Bell Aerospace Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 23, 1974 in National Labor Relations Board v. Bell Aerospace Company

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

In NLRB against Bell Aerospace, we have a labor law case here on certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The question presented, involved the appropriateness under the National Labor Relations Act of a collective bargaining unit composed of buyers, persons responsible for the purchasing function for respondent corporation.

Following an election and certification of the unit by the Board, the company refused to bargain, contending that the buyers were managerial employees and not covered by the Act.

The company was found guilty of an unfair labor practice and ordered to bargain.

The Court of Appeals denied enforcement on two grounds.

First it held that the Board had applied an erroneous test in determining whether these employees were covered by the Act and secondly, in view of the Board’s previous contrary decisions, the Court held that the Board must proceed by rule making rather than adjudication before adopting a new test.

The central issue is whether managerial employees are covered by the Act.

The Board had previously indicated that they are not.

In this case however, the Board applied a more restrictive test of whether the employee's duties would create a conflict of interest in labor relations.

We hold, as they did the Second Circuit, that such a restrictive test is not compatible with the Act.

The appropriate question is whether the individual is a managerial employee and this depends not upon his title, but upon his authority and duties.

We do not agree, however, that rule making is required on this issue rather than a case-by-case adjudication.

Accordingly, we affirm in part and reverse in part the decision of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice White filed a dissenting opinion, in which Mr. Justice Brennan, Mr. Justice Stewart and Mr. Justice Marshall joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.