National Labor Relations Board v. Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation

PETITIONER: National Labor Relations Board
RESPONDENT: Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation
LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DOCKET NO.: 53
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 356 US 342 (1958)
ARGUED: Nov 20, 1957 / Nov 21, 1957
DECIDED: May 05, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for National Labor Relations Board v. Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 21, 1957 in National Labor Relations Board v. Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 20, 1957 in National Labor Relations Board v. Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation

Earl Warren:

Number 53, National Labor Relations Board, Petitioner, versus Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation.

And Number 78, Wooster Division of Borg-Warner Corporation, Petitioner, versus National Labor Relations Board.

Mr. Manoli.

Dominick L. Manoli:

May it please the Court.

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

It presents two questions.

The first of these is whether under the National Labor Relations Act, an employer may insist as a condition of a collective-bargaining agreement that the bargaining representative agree not to call a strike over any dispute which the parties aren't able to settle through negotiations including the termination or modification of the collective-bargaining agreement until all of the employees in the bargaining unit have had an opportunity to vote on whether to accept or reject the company's last offer.

The second question presented in this case is whether under the Act, an employer may insist that the collective-bargaining agreement be between the company, the employer, the employer and the Local and the International rather than the International which the Board has certified as the employees' bargaining representative.

In other words, the question here is whether a bargaining representative under our statute is required to bargain about proposals of this character.

For convenience, I would like to refer these -- to these two proposals as the ballot clause.

This is so-called strike vote clause and the other one as the recognition clause.

Briefly, the Board held that the employer's insistence upon these two clauses, as a condition of the collective-bargaining agreement, violated the bargaining requirements of the statute.

The court below, on the other hand, while agreeing with the Board with respect to the recognition clause that the employer's insistence upon having this contract solely with the Local rather than the International which you can certify, did violate the bargaining requirements of the statute, disagreed with the Board with respect to the ballot clause and held that it was permissible for the employer to insist upon the ballot clause.

The facts which give rise to these two questions that are before us are not in dispute and I shall summarize them quite briefly.

In 1952, following the election among the company's employees, the Board certified as their bargaining representative the International Union United Automobile Workers.

Shortly after the International was certified, it chartered a local which admitted to membership employees of a company at this particular plant.

Shortly after the Local had been charted and the representatives of the International, the Local, and the company, beginning in 1953, entered into negotiations for the purpose of consummating a collective-bargaining agreement.

These negotiations continued for a period of several months and finally culminated in an unsuccessful strike.

At the end of the unsuccessful strike the Local -- the Local but not the International, the Local accepted the company's terms including the two clauses that I've mentioned and the men, of course, returned to work.

Now, going back to the negotiations and what took place there at the beginning of the negotiations, the International proposed a contract which would be between the company, on the one hand, and the International and it's Local as co-parties.

The International also proposed to the company a “no-strike” clause with respect to matters which would be the subject matter of arbitration under its proposed contract.

The company, on the other hand, proposed a contract which named only the Local of the International as the party to the contract.

More specifically, the company's proposal, which designating the union as the party to the contract designated as “Local 1238 affiliated with International Union, United Automobile Workers”.

The company also proposed that in case of a dispute between the parties which they were unable to resolve through negotiation that the union would not call a strike until the company's last offer had been submitted to the -- to the employees for them to vote as whether to accept or reject the company's last offer.

In the event that the majority of the employees rejected the company's offer, then the company was to have a -- an opportunity of submitting a further proposal within 72 hours and the employees were again to be given an opportunity, all of the employees in the unit, both non -- both members of the union as well as nonmembers.

All of them will have a further opportunity to vote on whether to accept or reject the company's proposals.

The company explained these two proposals in this fashion.

It -- it explained this -- the so-called recognition clause that the contract should be with the Local rather than certified International on the ground that the Local was more familiar with the local plant conditions and that therefore it should have the right to have its own contract.

It explained the strike ballot clause on two grounds.

First of all, that it would enable it to have a better understanding of what the employees wanted and that it would permit the company to reexamine if necessary its position in the light of their wishes.