National Labor Relations Board v. Drivers, Chauffeurs, Helpers, Local Union No. 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Drivers, Chauffeurs, Helpers, Local Union No. 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America
LOCATION: Dry Docks at Reed, WV

DOCKET NO.: 34
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 362 US 274 (1960)
ARGUED: Jan 14, 1960
DECIDED: Mar 28, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Drivers, Chauffeurs, Helpers, Local Union No. 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1960 (Part 2) in National Labor Relations Board v. Drivers, Chauffeurs, Helpers, Local Union No. 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 14, 1960 (Part 1) in National Labor Relations Board v. Drivers, Chauffeurs, Helpers, Local Union No. 639, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America

Earl Warren:

Number 34, National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner, versus Drivers, Chauffeurs, Helpers, Local Union Number 639, etcetera.

Mr. Manoli.

Dominick L. Manoli:

May it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari for the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In general, the case deals with the legality of picketing under the National Labor Relations Act to force an employer to recognize as the bargaining representative of these employees, a union which represents either none of them or only a minority of these employees.

Section 8 (b) (1) (A) of the Act makes it an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents to restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights under Section 7 of the Act.

Included among these rights is the right of employees to bargain collectively through a representative of their own choosing or to have none at all.

The question presented in this case is whether a union which pickets to force the employer to recognize it as the bargaining representative of its employees, even though it represents none or only a minority the employees, constitutes restraint and coercion of the employees in the exercise of their statutory rights within the meaning of Section 8 (b) (1) (A).

Now, let me briefly summarize the facts which give rise to this question.

In 1953, the Board certified the respondent union as the bargaining representative of some 21 employees of the Curtis Company who worked as warehousemen, truck drivers and furniture finishers.

The Company is engaged in the retail furniture business.

Shortly after the union was certified by the Board, it entered into negotiations with the Company with the view to working out a collective bargaining contract, but they were unable to arrive with an agreement.

The union went out on -- called a strike, in which nine of the 21 employees joined.

The union established picket lines around the Company's stores, its retail store and the adjoining warehouse where the employees who were involved in this matter worked.

The Company replaced the nine strikers and continued its operations and the union meanwhile, continued its picketing.

Some 15 months or so later, in 1955, the Company filed a petition with the Board, asking the Board to hold an election to determine whether the employees wished to be represented by the respondent union.

The Board held that election and of the 29 votes that were cast in that election, 28 of the votes were against the union and only one for the union.

The -- despite its overwhelming defeat at the polls, the union, nevertheless, continued to picket, this time, only in front of the Company store.

The Board found that one of the purposes of the union in continuing to picket and I might say that there is really no question about this finding here, the Board found that one of the purposes of the union in continuing to picket after the election was to compel the employer to recognize it as the representative of the employees, despite the fact, despite the fact that these employees had decisively rejected this union as their -- as their bargaining representative.

Charles E. Whittaker:

And that was finding (Inaudible)

Dominick L. Manoli:

Well, no.

The banners which they said were two kinds, Your Honor.

Before the election, the banner proclaimed that the Company was on strike and it was unfair to organize labor.

After the election, the banners were changed.

One of them read, as I recall it, that the Company was unfair.

It employed nonunion -- nonunion men, working men and the other banner was to the effect that -- that they wanted -- the union wanted employees to join the union, so that they could enjoy, enjoy union working conditions.

But the Board found, and as I said, there's really no challenge here, the Board found that despite whatever the signs may have said or despite the claim of the union that it was not seeking immediate recognition from the employer that the union was in fact, picketing for the purpose of requiring the employer to recognize it, notwithstanding, notwithstanding the fact that these employees had decisively rejected this union as their bargaining representative.

Now, the Board further found that picketing by a union, which represents either none or only a minority of the employees, to force the employees to accept it as their bargaining representative, constitutes an invasion of the employees' rights under the statute and constitutes restraint and coercion within the meaning of Section 8 (b) (1) (A).

The Board accordingly entered an order directing the union to refrain from this conduct.

The court below disagreed with the Board.The court below took the position that Section 8 (b) (1) (A) of the statute was not intended -- was not intended by Congress to reach this kind of picketing.