National Labor Relations Board v. International Van Lines

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: International Van Lines
LOCATION: Allegheny County District Court

DOCKET NO.: 71-895
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 409 US 48 (1972)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1972
DECIDED: Nov 07, 1972

ADVOCATES:
Norman H. Kirshman - for respondent
Peter G. Nash - for petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. International Van Lines

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 12, 1972 in National Labor Relations Board v. International Van Lines

Warren E. Burger:

-- next in 71-895, National Labor Relations Board against International Van Lines.

Mr. Nash, I think you may proceed now.

Peter G. Nash:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here on certiorari to the Ninth Circuit which denied enforcement of provisions of the National Labor Relations Board order requiring -- excuse me, requiring the reinstatement of four employees who were engaged in a strike when they were discharged by their employer.

The question presented here concerns the protection which the National Labor Relations Act affords to employees engaged in a strike against their employer for an economic objective, who are discharged for that activity before they have been permanently replaced by that employer.

Thus do, such strikers have an unconditional right to reinstatement to their former jobs as the Board found or is that right to reinstatement lost if the employer can show substantial and legitimate business justifications for refusing to reinstate them as the court below found.

The facts may be briefly summarized as follows.

In August 1967, the Teamsters Union commenced an organizing campaign amongst the employees of 10 to 11 moving and storage companies within the Santa Maria, California area including the respondent, International Van Lines.

On September 21st, the Union that had obtained authorization cards from five of six of International's employees filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, a copy of which was unserved upon the company and received by it on September 25.

A week later on October 2nd and 3rd, this Union held meetings at which the Union representatives told the employees that certain companies being organized, including International had withdrawn their consent for an NLRB election.

There was also some discussion at that time about the discharge of employees of other companies other than -- than International.

In any event, the assembled employees decided to strike and did so on October 4th.

Three of International's employees, Dicus, Manuel Vasquez, and Mr. Casillas refused to cross the picket line and the fourth, Robert Vasquez did not report for work that day because of the picket line.

The president of International, Robert McEwan obtained temporary replacements the next day, October 5th, from his brother who had a similar moving and storage company within the area and sent telegrams to Manuel and Robert Vasquez and Dicus advising them that they had been permanently replaced.

Seven days later, on October 12, the Union filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Manuel and Robert Vasquez, Casillas, and Dicus had all been discriminatorily discharged in violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

Between October 8th and October 28th, Dicus and Manuel Vasquez each asked the president of the company, Mr. McEwan, who was then hospitalized whether each was going to have a job and neither received any commitment.

Dicus had the same experience shortly after Mr. McEwan left the hospital on October 28th.

In the latter part of November, Casillas who had prior to that time, a casual worker, asked Mr. McEwan to put him back on the availability list for call.

He received no particular commitment and he has not or had not at the time of the hearing been recalled to work.

On October 12th, Manuel and Robert Vasquez and Dicus asked Mr. McEwan to be reinstated and were refused.

The strike continued on at least through the hearing which commenced on April 3, 1968.

The Board found that the company's employees were engaged in a protected strike to compel a consent election and that even if the objected strike was to compel immediate recognition by the company, of the Union, it was a protected strike.

Further the Board found that Manuel and Robert Vasquez and Dicus were discharged by the telegram sent on October 5th for as a matter of fact, they had not been permanently replaced at that time.

And further, that all four employees which includes -- included Casillas, the casual employee, were refused reinstatement upon their unconditional offers or applications for reinstatement which further violated Sections 8 (a) (3) and (1) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Board ordered reinstatement of all four of these employees even if that reinstatement required the discharge of strike replacements which may or may not had been hired since the time -- since the time of the discharge and the refusal of reinstatement of these employees.

The Ninth Circuit found that all four of the employees have been discharged on October 5 for engaging in a protected strike which sought a consent election, but none had been permanently replaced up until that time and that as such, those discharges violated Sections 8 (a) (1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Court further found that the three of the strikers excluding Casillas at this point, the casual, made unconditional request for reinstatement which were denied.

And that Casillas had made a similar request, but because he was a casual employee, was not clear to the Ninth Circuit, whether in fact he had been denied reinstatement or whether there just had not yet been an opportunity for the employer to call him back to work.

The Court remanded that latter -- that latter execution to the Board.

However, despite these findings and despite an assumption by the Ninth Circuit, the employees who struck after the discharge of these employees, who continued their strike, might in fact be properly considered to be unfair labor practice strikers.