Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board

PETITIONER: Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp.
RESPONDENT: National Labor Relations Board
LOCATION: Kingsley Books, Inc.

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 352 US 1020 (1957)
ARGUED: Feb 28, 1957
DECIDED: Feb 28, 1957

William A. Stuart - for the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 28, 1957 in Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board

Earl Warren:

Number 153, Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation versus National Labor Relations Board.

Mr. Stuart.

William A. Stuart:

May it please the Court.

And if the Court will find that there's no material conflict in the facts in this case.

The question involved as to whether strikers, even though nonstrikers who come back to work during the strike and before the Union has ordered back the body, the main body of the strikers, to come back and are reinstated in their permanent tenure whether they must be replaced or displaced in order to make run for the strikers who strike it out until the Union ordered them back.

That is the prerogative question involved as to the effect, if any, of length of service upon the employees involved here, to the effect particularly of some of the employees who stuck it out to the end having greater length of service than the any employees who abandoned the strike and came back and were reinstated in a permanent tenure while the others were still there.

Now, what happened in the case was that this employer which operates the plant at Morgantown, West Virginia, a chemical plant, made a study of the maintenance work with the view to determining why it was costing more than it seemed it should cost.

As a result of that study, reorganization of the maintenance department was determined upon involving a reduction in force of 94 of the maintenance employees.

However, before the layoff list could be prepared and the layoff made, the strike intervened.

The maintenance force consisted of 234 employees, all of them union members, all of them members of these Unions who initiated the present proceeding.

Now, the strike was an economic strike.

There is no question anywhere in this case about any unfair labor practice being connected with the strike and the reduction of force was also an economic reduction, no question of any unfair labor practice in determining upon the number of employees to be replaced.

While bargaining negotiations were going on between the employer and these Unions for looking to -- making of a new collective agreement, the contract expired.

And some two weeks after that, the strike began there -- there being no contract.

As to the seniority rights -- the seniority rights expired as we contend with the contract.

Those rights were purely breach of contract, and when the contract came to an end, so did the seniority rights.

Now all of this happened, the specific occurrences out of which this case finally -- although, all happened in -- in quite a short time.

The general workers and the maintenance workers didn't go out.

I mean the production workers didn't go out.

The maintenance workers went out on strike, the production workers did not and the company decided to attempt to continue to operate the plant and not to close down on account of the strike.

Some other strikers, as I said, triggered back to work and among of them, there are seven who are the employers whom the Board, by its order, has directed to be reinstated in lieu of seven others who must thereby be displaced.

The company gave notice to the Unions after the strike had been going on about a couple of weeks that it would begin to interview applicants for jobs to replace the strikers.

And two days after that, the Union ordered the whole mass of remaining strikers back to work without any settlement, not only saw that on a notice, this body of men just suddenly appeared.

And at that time, on account of the previously determined reduction in force, there were 94 more employers applying for work and that were upon the job of this sort.

However, these employers all appeared at once, the company was wholly unfair that had no notice and liability of coming back, it couldn't tell of course how many had come whether all, or only a -- a large part and tell who had come and who had not.

So there, it was confronted with the -- upon the risk of what to do.

Well what they did was to let them all in.

The plant had been strike bound now for some three weeks and -- and probably, there was plenty of -- of temporary work to be done so they -- they let them all in.

And they got down to work to make out the layoff list in preparation for putting into effect in the predetermined but delayed reduction in force.

And then -- well, in less than two weeks, after the balance of the strikers came back, this work was done and the names of the 94 would be laid off had been determined.