National Labor Relations Board v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Louisville, Inc.

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Louisville, Inc.

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

ARGUED: Jan 17, 1956
DECIDED: Feb 27, 1956

Facts of the case


Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Louisville, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 17, 1956 (Part 2) in National Labor Relations Board v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Louisville, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 17, 1956 (Part 1) in National Labor Relations Board v. Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Louisville, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 79, National Labor Relations Board versus Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Mr. Findling.

David P. Findling:

May it please the Court.

The National Labor Relations Board has brought this case here on certiorari to review an order of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit remanding the case to the Board with instructions to take evidence regarding the union officer's status of a CIO agent named W.B. Taylor for purposes of the non-Communist affidavit requirements of Section 9 (h) of the National Labor Relations Act.

As Your Honors may recall, Section 9 (h) which has already been before the Court in three Labor Board cases, the ACA against Douds case, the Highland Park case, and the Dant and the -- and the Russell case.

It provides generally that labor unions may not have access to the Labor Board's facilities unless their officers file appropriate non-Communist affidavits.

And the questions in this case, which I shall formulate more specifically in just a minute, involve generally the meaning of the word "officer" and its litigability in Board cases and they arose in this context.

During a conventional unfair labor practice proceeding before the Board under Section 10 of the Act, involving allegations with respect to the discriminatory firings of three union employees and restraint and coercion of employees but of course they had adjoined Local 20 of the Brewery Workers International Union affiliated with the CIO.

The company raised the question which it tried to litigate before the hearing officer and the Board whether the CIO had in fact complied in as much as no non-Communist affidavits had been filed by Mr. Taylor and under the Highland Park decision of this Court, it was necessary for the CIO to have filed the affidavits in order to validate the charges filed by Local 20.

Now, Taylor was regional director for the CIO in Kentucky.

The regional directors with whom they were then 40 were not listed by the CIO in its constitution as among its officers nor were they included in a verified form which under Board regulations was required to be filed with the Board and which the CIO had filed and which would likewise suppose to list the -- the officers of the CIO.

But the company contended that Mr. Taylor had to file an affidavit anyway because as it in substance offered to prove in the unfair labor practice case.

As Regional Director, he was charged with administrative and executive duties and powers over Local 20, and he exercised a working control over every CIO local union and affiliated international union in its territory.

Now, the Board rejected this company's offense and offered to prove -- and offer a proof and it held two things, and it's the correctness of these two holdings that present the specific questions, the decision here.

In the first place, the Board held in accordance with its consistent practice since the enactment of Section 9 (h) in 1947 that the question whether all union officers had in fact filed the appropriate non-Communist affidavit like other questions go into details with respect to compliance was not open to litigation in the proceedings on the merits of cases before the Board but was a matter for independent administrative determination by the Board in separate collateral proceeding.

And secondly, the Board held that in any event on the merits and even if the company had presented its question properly from a procedural standpoint, Taylor was not an officer of the CIO because again under the Board's uniform test, he neither occupied a position which was designated as an office in the constitution of the CIO nor was there any assertion of proof that the office that he occupied had been omitted from the constitution or from designation as an office in order to circumvent or evade the filing requirements of Section 9 (h).

Earl Warren:

Mr. Findling, may I ask this question concerning the rule of the -- of the Board?

Could an interested party such as -- as the Coca-Cola Company have initiated a collateral proceeding?

David P. Findling:

Yes, Your Honor, and that in fact has been done in a good many cases.

Perhaps, a dozen and a half such cases.

And --

Felix Frankfurter:

As long as that doesn't say the extension of words.

David P. Findling:

Well, the -- the employer, anyone else interested presents evidence that leads us to believe that there may be suspicion of a noncompliance.

Felix Frankfurter:

You mean in the litigation?

David P. Findling:

He can do it in the litigation or he may do it outside the litigation.

Very frequently, it's been in the litigation itself.

Felix Frankfurter:

On a suggestion to the tribunal?

David P. Findling:

Yes, Your Honor, and we've investigated administratively in separate proceedings and decide whether or not it's appropriate for further investigation and determination.

And so, the Board went on to consider --

Stanley Reed:

I don't quite understand that do you -- you allow the suggestion to be made by the employer?