National Labor Relations Board v. News Syndicate Company, Inc.

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: News Syndicate Company, Inc.
LOCATION: Alabama General Assembly

DOCKET NO.: 339
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 365 US 695 (1961)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1961
DECIDED: Apr 17, 1961

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. News Syndicate Company, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1961 in National Labor Relations Board v. News Syndicate Company, Inc.

Earl Warren:

Number 339, National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner, versus News Syndicate Company, Incorporated.

Mr. Manoli.

Dominick L. Manoli:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Second Circuit.

The Labor Act forbids the conditioning of employment upon union membership.

An employee may not be required to join a union in order to obtain employment.

Broadly stated, broadly stated the question in this case that threshold question in this case is whether certain contract arrangements between the respondent, Mailers' Union and various newspaper publishers in the New York area covering the employment of mail-room employees at these newspaper publishers whether this contract arrangements violates the closed-shop ban of the statute.

Without going into a detail for the moment, the contract limits employment to journeymen and apprentices.

It does not have any specific provision that membership on a union or the lack of it is a condition of employment.

However, the contract does have a provision which provides that the General Laws of the International Typographical Union, commonly referred to as the ITU, which is the parent organization of the respondent, Mailers' Union.

At the General Laws of the ITU to the extent that they are not inconsistent with the specific provisions of the contract and are not in conflict with federal or state law shall govern the relations of the parties with respect to conditions not specifically enumerated in the contract.

Now, the General Laws, in turn, contained a number of provisions which comprehensively provide that all employees performing work which falls within the jurisdiction of the ITU, and the Mailers' are among them, that all such employees must belong to the union.

I shall in a moment explain in greater detail, the provisions of the contract, the provisions of the General Laws and also the hiring practice which were pursued by the parties under the agreement, but I think what I've said suffices to pose the question which is at the heart of this case as well as the heart of the case which follows it, namely, whether this savings clause -- whether this savings clause in the contract suffices for purposes of the statute, can neutralize or suspend the otherwise illegal provisions of the -- illegal closed-shop provisions of the General Laws.

Now, the Board held that the savings clause did not have that effect, it did not effectively suspend the otherwise illegal closed-shop provisions of the General Laws.

The court below, on the other hand, held that they -- it did and the First Circuit in the case which follows this one, although not entirely free of doubt as endorsed the Board's position.

I shall sketch briefly the facts which give rise to this controversy.

The Mailers' Union is an affiliate of the ITU, and it represents mailing -- the mail-room employees of all newspapers in a New York City area including the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal.

In 1954 and again in 1956, the union ordered the contracts with the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal covering the employment of mail-room employees and the charges which initiated this case before the Board challenged the legality of those contracts and also the operation of the hiring system under those contracts.

The contract, which appears at page 527 of the record, Section 4 of the contract, which is on page 528 requires that the superintendent or the foreman or the assistant foreman in charged of the mail-room must be a union member.

Section 5 of the contract, which appears on the following page 510 -- 529, limits employment to journeymen and apprentices, and Sections 20 (a) and 20 (b), and I'm merely paraphrasing these because they're rather lengthy, and which appeared at page 532 and 533, Sections 20 (a) and 20 (b) vest exclusive control over the mail-room employment, over mail-room hiring, in the foreman who, under Section 4 of the contract, is required to be a union member.

And finally -- finally, on the following page, 534, there is Section 24 -- Section -- Section 24 of the contract which provides that it is understood and agreed that the General Laws of the International Typographical Union in effect in January 1955, not in conflict with this contract or with federal or state law shall govern relations between the parties on conditions not specifically enumerated herein.

Now, the ITU General Laws, in turn, as I stated briefly, first of all, require that all employees performing work falling within the jurisdiction of the ITU must be union members.

The General Laws also have a provision which, like the contract, require that the foreman in charge of the mail-room or composing room, as the case may be, that he must be a union member.

The General Laws also require the locals -- require the foreman to follow a priority system prescribed by the local.

And finally -- finally, under the Constitution of both the Mailers' Union, as well as the ITU, every member is under a duty and, of course, this includes the foreman who, under the contract, is required to be a union member, he's under an obligation to observe the union's rules.

Now, in practice, in practice, the hiring of employees from the -- for the Daily News, mail-room employees of the Daily News and the Wall Street Journal went something like this.

The work of the mail-room employees consist of bundling and tying newspapers and putting them on trucks for delivery to their destination.

And the foreman selects the employees for each evening's work and the number of employees may vary depending upon the size of the paper.

It may vary from 50 to 200, we are told.

He selects the employees from list which are furnished to him by the union steward who was called the "chapel chairman".