National Labor Relations Board v. Truck Drivers Local Union Warehousemen and Helpers of America, A.F.L.

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Truck Drivers Local Union Warehousemen and Helpers of America, A.F.L.
LOCATION: SS Rosina Marron

DOCKET NO.: 103
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 353 US 87 (1957)
ARGUED: Jan 17, 1957 / Jan 22, 1957
DECIDED: Apr 01, 1957

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Truck Drivers Local Union Warehousemen and Helpers of America, A.F.L.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 22, 1957 in National Labor Relations Board v. Truck Drivers Local Union Warehousemen and Helpers of America, A.F.L.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 17, 1957 in National Labor Relations Board v. Truck Drivers Local Union Warehousemen and Helpers of America, A.F.L.

Earl Warren:

Number 103, National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner, versus Truck Drivers Local Union Number 449 et al.

Mr. Manoli.

Dominick L.Manoli:

If the Court please, this case is hereon writ of certiorari to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court below dismissed an order of the Board, to set aside an order of the Board, dismissing a complaint involving that the employers involved in this case had laid off their employees in violations of the -- violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

The question presented in this case is whether a group of employees who have been dealing with the Union representing their employees through an association for the purpose of arriving in an agreement covering all of the employers may lawfully suspend operations without violating the National Labor Relations Act.

When the Union strikes, one of the employer members of the Association and that strike carries with it the implicit threat of -- of successive strikes against the other employer members of the Association.

The facts in this case were stipulated by the parties and I may very briefly summarize them.

The employers in this case are some linen supply companies located in Buffalo, Dunkirk, and Niagara Falls, New York.

They are linen supply companies and I suppose another word might be the term, laundries.

They each employed truck drivers ranging in number from two to 22 -- 22 men.

These truck drivers in turn are represented for purposes of bargaining by the respondent Union.

And the employers here have been represented for some 13 years for purposes of collective bargaining by an association called the Linen and Credit Exchange.

The Linen and Credit Exchange had carried on negotiations with the respondent Union and the practice has been during these past 13 years for the Association and the Union to negotiate -- seek to negotiate an agreement.

In the event that they arrived at such an agreement, then this agreement is in turn submitted to the employer members of the Association.

And if a majority of these employer members of the Association approved that the agreement then all of them signed.

Now, in March of 1953, the Association and the Union, consistent with this practice, entered into negotiations for a contract to succeed the existing of current contract which was to expire in April of that year.

They negotiated for several weeks and after several weeks of negotiations, they were unable to arrive in an agreement.

And in May, sometime in May, the Union called a strike against the Frontier Linen Supply Company.

The Frontier Linen Supply Company is one of the eight employer members of this Linen Exchange -- Linen and Credit Exchange of this employer bargaining association.

And thereupon, the Union placed the picket line around the premises of the Frontier Linen Company.

The other -- the employees of the other employers remained at work but on the following day, however, the other seven employer members of the Association suspended operations, laid off their employees and at the same time, they notified the -- they notified the respondent Union that they would resume operations when the Union called off its strike against Frontier and also remove the picket line at that place.

Following the calling of the strike against Frontier by the Union, and following the suspension of operations by the other seven employer members of the Association, the Union and the Association continue to bargain, continue to negotiate for the purpose of arriving in an agreement.

And within the week, or by the end of the week, they did arrive in such an agreement which was satisfactory to the employers, and thereupon, the Union called off the strike and the -- all of the-- all the seven employers who with suspended operations, as well as Frontier Linen Company, resumed operations and the men returned to work.

The Board and the court below, upon these facts, agreed that the strike against Frontier, one of the eight employer members of the Association, carried with it the implicit threat of successive strikes against the other employer members of the Association.

The Board concluded that this selective whipsawing strike technique was calculated to destroy the employer solidarity, the employer collective bargaining position if you will, which is the -- which in the Board's view is the principal purpose for their entering into this multi-employer bargaining relationship.

In the Board's view, this unity, the preservation of this collective bargaining position is entitled to protection under the statute, and to that end, the employers against whom -- the employers may suspend operations and counter with concerted action, the selective strike by the Union against one of their members, the purpose of which, of course, is to bring about a capitulation of the entire group.

The court below, on the other hand, disagreed with this conclusion on two grounds.

First, it concluded that the strike against Frontier was tantamount to a withdraw by the Union from the multi-employer bargaining relationship which had existed for some 13 years.

On that premise, the Court said there was no basis for differentiating between an individual employer and an employer who is the member of an association that, in either case, where an employer suspends operations in anticipation of a strike, he is engaging an unfair labor practice within the meaning of the federal -- of the National Labor Relations Act.

Secondly, the Court, meeting the Board upon its own ground, concluded that the employers' interest in preserving their solidarity and preserving their bargaining position as against the Union was not -- has not been given -- given a such recognition by the National Labor Relations Act as to permit the accommodation in which the Board has made in this case.