National Labor Relations Board v. Local 825, International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Local 825, International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO
LOCATION: Edward Coolidge's Home

DOCKET NO.: 40
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 400 US 297 (1971)
ARGUED: Nov 18, 1970
DECIDED: Jan 12, 1971

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Local 825, International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1970 in National Labor Relations Board v. Local 825, International Union of Operating Engineers, AFL-CIO

Warren E. Burger:

We’ll hear arguments next in number 40, National Labor Relations Board against the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Mr. Ordman, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Arnold Ordman:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

These two cases consolidated here are here on writs of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

In broad terms, the questions presented in both these cases is whether the Union, Local 825, of the Operating Engineers violated Section 8 (b) 4 (b) of the National Labor Relations Act in the so-called secondary boycott provision by exerting coercive pressures upon neutral employers in support of its dispute with the primary employer, the White Construction Company.

Now, that question can be further refined.

All parties and the Board and the Court below are in agreement here that the Union did exert coercive pressures as defined by Section 8 (b) 4 (b) upon neutral employers.

Now, that statutory section further requires, for purposes relevant here, that such coercive conduct have, as an object, forcing or requiring an employer to seize doing business with any other person.

Now, this is the pivotal issue in the case.

The Board found that the Union’s coercive conduct had cessation of business as it read the statute, in the statutory sense, as an object of its conduct and the Board, therefore, found a violation of Section 8 (b) 4 (b).

The Court below disagreed.

Unlike the Board and unlike other Courts of Appeals which have considered this issue, the Court below reads the language in the statute quite literally.

On the basis of that literal reading, the Court below held that the proof was insufficient to prove that the Union had an object to-- had a “seize doing business” object because the Union did not, as the Court saw the case, ask for a total cessation of business.

Now, the underlying facts on at issue, the instant labor dispute arose at a construction site in Oyster Creek, New Jersey where a Burns & Roe, Inc., a general contractor, was building a $68-Billion nuclear power plant for the Jersey Central Power and Light Company.

Burns & Roe, the general contractor in charge of this project, had no employees of its own.

It delegated all the-- no construction workers.

It delegated all the construction work to three subcontractors, the White Construction Company, the Chicago Bridge, and-- Iron Company, and the Poirier & McLane Corporation.

Now, all these three subcontractors had, among their employees, members of the Local 825 Operating Engineers Union.

Local 825 had contracts with two of the subcontractors, Chicago Bridge and Poirier.

It had no collective bargaining agreement with either Burns, the general contractor, or with the White construction company.

Now, White’s job, one of the three subcontractors, its job under its subcontractor was to build this nuclear power plant, to create the reactor building for the nuclear power plant, and White’s equipment included, among other things, a piece of equipment known as an electrical welding machine.

And, as soon as White got the subcontract, he assigned the operation of this electrical welding machine, including-- starting on stopping the machine to employees of his who were members of the Iron Workers Union and Local 825, the Operating Engineers Union, who wanted that work and urged upon White that employees of White who were members of Local 825 of Operating Engineers be given the job of pushing the buttons which started and stopped the welding machine.

Now, Local 825, as I pointed out, didn’t have contracts with White, this subcontractor, or with the general contractor but, in support of its demand, they presented profit agreements to White and to Burns.

As-- in effect, those agreements would commit White, the subcontractor, and the general contractor to give all power equipment including specifically welding machines and give that jurisdiction to the operating engineers.

Now, these agreements would not only have bound the signatory, White, who was doing that work, it also bound subcontractors of the signatory so that Burns & Roe, the general contractor, would have been bound to apply that subcontract to White who was a subcontractor.

Now, neither White nor Burns agreed to sign or yielded to this pressure to sign the agreements.

Now, while this dispute was going on, since all the parties involved had agreed that disputes of this kind, really a jurisdictional dispute, should be submitted to the National Joint Board for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes.

The dispute was submitted around October 6th and, within a couple of weeks, the National Joint Board for the Settlement of-- I think it used to be called the Dunlop Board, settled this dispute and decided in favor of the Iron Workers to whom White had given the work.

But, the Operating Engineers weren’t satisfied.