National Labor Relations Board v. Ochoa Fertilizer Corporation

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Ochoa Fertilizer Corporation
LOCATION: Labor Union Protest

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 368 US 318 (1961)
ARGUED: Nov 16, 1961
DECIDED: Dec 18, 1961

Facts of the case


Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Ochoa Fertilizer Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 16, 1961 in National Labor Relations Board v. Ochoa Fertilizer Corporation

Earl Warren:

Number 37, National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner, versus Ochoa Fertilizer Corporation.

Mr. Solicitor General.

Archibald Cox:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case comes here on a writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to review a decision modifying upon the Court's own motion, a cease-and-desist order entered by the National Labor Relations Board upon the stipulation and consent of the respondents.

The respondents having signed that stipulation and consent have taken no further part in these proceedings.

The question presented as we see it is whether the Court of Appeals may properly modify as too broad a cease-and-desist order entered by the National Labor Relations Board where the respondents not only raised no objection to the scope of the order, but actually consented to its issuance and enforcement in the exact form in which enforcement was sought.

I should say that this case is one of a group.

There are two other cases in which petitions have been filed to review companion decisions by the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; the Las Vegas Sand and Gravel case which is Number 38 and Local 476 of the Plumbers which is Number 39.

In addition, there's a petition pending in the Brandman Iron case to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit which raises substantially the same question and that in our view, these cases are related to the Box case which is to be argued immediately after this one, although the questions maybe somewhat different.


Archibald Cox:

Not all of them.

The Brandman Iron case is a consent decree case.

The Plumbers case was not, and I believe the Las Vegas case was not a consent decree case.

The facts in this case are as follows, charges were filed against the employer, Ochoa and two labor organizations in 1958 under the National Labor Relations Act.

A complaint was issued on February 26, 1959.

The complaint appears at page 13 of the record.

The complaint set out first that Ochoa was an employer subject to the act of Puerto Rico because he engaged in interstate commerce and it also identified as the respondents a local labor organization, a local of the Longshoremen's and a counsel of local league of labor organization, also representing employees seeking to organize employees in Puerto Rico.

The allegations were that Ochoa and the unions had entered an illegal contract -- entered into an illegal contract in 1951 which established a closed shop and illegal hiring hall and an illegal checkoff, all in violation of Section 8 (a) of the National Labor Relations Act so far as the employer was concerned and 8 (b) so far as the union was concerned.

The complaint set forth that the agreement had been renewed in 1955 and that at all times between 1951 at the issuance of the complaint, the employer and the labor union had maintained the agreement and given effect to it.

You'll recall it under the National Labor Relations Act, any form of union security that is any form of closed shop, union shop or checkoff is illegal unless the union has been designated by a majority of the employees in an appropriate unit, so that the contract and its maintenance were illegal according to the complaint under that provision.

Second, it's settled law that a closed shop, one which requires an employee to be a member of the union before he is hired and a hiring hall, one which enables the union to hire the man for the employer are both illegal regardless of whether the union has the majority so that according to the complaint, there was a case under that branch of the law also.

A period of time then went by and in January 1960, the respondents, the employer and the two labor organizations, the local and the counsel entered into a stipulation.

The stipulation appears at 21 of the record and following.

It recites the charge and the complaint and then sets forth the facts necessary to give the Board jurisdiction relating to interstate commerce, contrary to the statement in the Court of Appeals, there was no admission or denial of the Board's allegations.

That indeed is not practice in entering into consent orders in National Labor Relations Board cases.

The stipulation then went on and set forth in precise terms, the order which was to be entered by the Board and you will find the order as recited in the stipulation and as ultimately entered by the Board beginning at page 24 of the record.

Insofar as the employer is concerned, Ochoa, it was ordered, I am just below the middle of page 24, to cease-and-desist from performing, maintaining or otherwise giving effect to any agreement, arrangement, practice or understanding with ILA Council or ILA Local 1762, those were the two respondent unions or any other labor organizations, those are the controversial words as this case arises, to cease from giving effect to any understanding with these two locals or with any other labor organization which in an unlawful manner conditions employment or the retention of the employment upon clearance or approval by the aforementioned labor organization.

In other words, this forbad the employer to maintain a hiring hall arrangement with these unions or any other unions.

The next paragraph (b) forbids the employer to enter in to or give effect to any illegal union security contract, again, with these unions or any other labor organization and again, the words any other labor organizations are in question.

There's no controversy concerning paragraph (c), then (d) forbids the employer to encourage membership in a labor organization either these or any other by discriminating in regard to hire or tenure employment.