National Labor Relations Board v. Financial Institution Employees of America, Local 1182, Chartered by United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Financial Institution Employees of America, Local 1182, Chartered by United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

DOCKET NO.: 84-1493
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 475 US 192 (1986)
ARGUED: Dec 04, 1985
DECIDED: Feb 26, 1986

ADVOCATES:
Laurence Stephen Gold - on behalf of the Respondents
Mark A. Hutcheson - on behalf of Financial Seattle-First National Bank, Petitioner
Nopton J. Come - on behalf of National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner
Norton J. Come - for petitioner in No. 84-1493

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Financial Institution Employees of America, Local 1182, Chartered by United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 04, 1985 in National Labor Relations Board v. Financial Institution Employees of America, Local 1182, Chartered by United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO

Laurence Stephen Gold:

It seems to me you'd have many of the same problems in such an instance in terms of Congress's determination to leave the conduct of the organization to itself, because you would get into the question, suppose the Board were to say it would be regarded as the organization that was selected and there will be a second representation election.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Come, I think you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Nopton J. Come:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case involves another kind of voting rights question, specifically whether the National Labor Relations Board reasonably exercised the broad discretion which it possesses to establish and administer the procedures and petitions for certifying a labor organization as the statutory bargaining representative, and concluding that all bargaining unit employees are not just union members must be afforded an opportunity to vote on the affiliation of their bargaining representative with an international union before, the Board will substitute the newly affiliated union for the old union as the unit employees' exclusive bargaining representative.

The basic facts are these: the First Bank Independent Employees' Association FIEA, was certified by the Board in 1970 after winning a Board election.

It was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of a unit consisting of all of the employees of the Seattle First National Bank in the State of Washington.

The FIEA negotiated successive collective bargaining agreements with the bank, the last expiring in 1977.

In 1977 the FIEA Executive Council decided to seek affiliation with the detail Clerks International Union and a union affiliation election was scheduled for February 1978.

Prior to the election all bargaining unit employees were informed of the proposed affiliation and toll that only those who were union members as of January of '78 would be eligible to vote.

At the time of the affiliation vote about 2,600 of the 4,790 of the employees in the unit were FIEA members.

1,206 voted for the affiliation and 774 voted against.

The 2,176 non-members comprising over 45 percent of the unit were not permitted to vote.

The FIEA is chartered by the International Union as Financial Institution Employees of America Local 1182 which is the respondent here.

The local filed a petition with the Board seeking amendment of the outstanding certification in favor of FIEA to reflect this affiliation.

The Board has a procedure, 102.60-V of its rules, that provides the Board may amend a certification in the absence of a question concerning representation.

The Board initially granted the amendment relying on its then current view that affiliation of an independent union with an international was essentially an internal union matter in which non-members were not entitled to vote.

The Board subsequently, in a case called Amoco Four, reversed its earlier position and concluded that affiliation because of its impact on the right of all bargaining unit employees to choose their representatives is not a purely internal union affair and therefore that an affiliation election, if it is to serve as a basis or Board amendment of the certification, must be open to all union members.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Another three to two decision?

Nopton J. Come:

Yes, it was another three to two decision, yes, Your Honor.

The Board's... I might say that this is an issue that has divided the Board for over 20 years, and the Board has changed its mind on this issue within that period several times.

It is now of the view that the view expressed in Amoco Four, which has been sustained by the Fifth Circuit, better effectuates and is more consonant with the purposes of the Act.

Pursuant to its decision in Amoco Four, the Board which had originally amended the certification in this case, reversed their decision and dismissed the petition to amend the certification and the unfair labor practice complaint that it issued based thereon.

On review to the Ninth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit set aside the Board's determination, and that's why we're here.

To put the problem in perspective with a little bit of a background, Section 9-C-1 of the Act requires the Board to direct an election by secret ballot and to certify the results thereof whenever it finds that a question of representative has been raised, as to whether the employees desire to select a union as their bargaining representative or to cut or replace a previously designated representative.

All unit employees have the right to participate in a Board conducted election.

Well established rules and procedures ensure that employees will have an opportunity to make a free choice after hearing the views of all interested parties, including the employer.

The union that is certified becomes the bargaining representative for all unit members, and is under a duty to represent them fairly whether they are members of the union or not members of the union, as this Court has often recognized.

Now, after a union has been certified, it often undergoes organizational changes ranging from a mere name change to things that are more substantial such as affiliation with an international union which is what we have here.

The industrial stability, in the Board's view, which the Act seeks to promote, would be unnecessarily disturbed if every union organizational adjustment were to warrant a redetermination of the bargaining representative through a Board conducted election.

Accordingly, the Board has established a procedure, which I have referred to earlier, whereby it will permit a union that has affiliated or undergone some other similar organic change to step into the shoes of the old union without a Board election, provided that certain requirements are met.