National Labor Relations Board v. Reliance Fuel Oil Corporation

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Reliance Fuel Oil Corporation
LOCATION: South Carolina State House

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 371 US 224 (1963)
ARGUED: Dec 03, 1962
DECIDED: Jan 07, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Reliance Fuel Oil Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 03, 1962 in National Labor Relations Board v. Reliance Fuel Oil Corporation

Earl Warren:

Number 88, National Labor Relations Board, petitioner, versus Reliance Fuel Oil Corporation. Mr. Claiborne.

Louis F. Claiborne:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

In this case, there is only a single issue and that is the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.

Jurisdiction here is challenged on the ground that respondent Reliance’s operation are not sufficiently connected with interstate commerce so that a labor dispute arising there would affect commerce within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act.

The trial examiner addressed himself to this question.

He made findings and he concluded that the Board had jurisdiction.

The Board adopted the findings of the examiner in this respect and held that it had jurisdiction.

On petition for enforcement by the Board before the Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit, the findings on the merits were approved, but the court had some doubt about the jurisdiction of the Board over the dispute in question, but the court didn’t resolve that issue.

It simply felt that the findings were insufficient and therefore remanded the case to the Board in its words to make further findings -- take further evidence and make further findings on the manner in which the labor dispute at Reliance affects or tends to affect commerce.

The Board petitioned for rehearing unsuccessfully.

The court issued a short supplemental opinion.

From the decision we're not denied rehearing, we applied -- the Board applied to this Court for certiorari which was granted.

The relevant jurisdictional facts are these.

Reliance is a fuel oil dealer on Long Island in New York State.

It sells fuel oil for heating purposes to homeowners, all of whom live on Long Island.

It also services their burners, their oil burners.

It's gross sales in 1959, 1959 is the pertinent period because labor dispute charged here occurred in January and February 1960 and these were the most recent figures, in 1959, this company, Reliance, sold something over six-and-three quarter million gallons of fuel oil of a value exceeding half a million dollars.

Besides certain office personnel, supervisors and salesman, the company had 21 regular employees, 11 of whom were truck drivers, the other 10, service personnel.

These 21 employees are those that were involved in the labor dispute.

I won't detail the labor dispute the way in which it was resolved because that issue is now before the court.

The -- as I say, the court affirmed the Board's finding that Reliance had been guilty of unfair labor practices towards these 21 employees and in an inappropriate order which was affirmed or which the court indicated it would affirm if it had not had doubts about jurisdiction.

Getting back to the jurisdictional facts, Reliance buys this oil which it sells to homeowners on Long Island.

It buys most, if not all of this oil, from the Gulf Oil Corporation.

These purchases during the pertinent period, exceed $650,000 for the year.

Gulf Oil Corporation of course is a large company, concededly involved in interstate commerce, with more than $3 billion in annual gross revenues.

Now the greater part of this fuel oil which is sold by Reliance on Long Island, and which it purchases from Gulf is refined by Gulf out of the State of New York.

Gulf brings it in from outside the state into its tanks in New York City.

From there, it ships a certain portion to its tanks, Gulf's tanks, at Long Island from where the company involved, Reliance picks it up and delivers it to its customers.

Summarizing the jurisdictional fact then, Reliance locally sells a product which has been manufactured out of state, but which has twice temporarily come to rest within the states.

The volume of these purchases is well over a quarter of a million dollars, probably more than half a million dollars.