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    NATIONAL LABOR REL. BD. V. CROMPTON-HIGHLAND MILLS, INC. , 337 U.S. 217 (1949)

    U.S. Supreme Court

    NATIONAL LABOR REL. BD. V. CROMPTON-HIGHLAND MILLS, INC. , 337 U.S. 217 (1949)

    337 U.S. 217

    NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
    v.
    CROMPTON-HIGHLAND MILLS, Inc.
    No. 197.

    Argued Jan. 31, 1949.
    Decided May 31, 1949.

    Rehearing Denied June 20, 1949.

    See 337 U.S. 950 . [ National Labor Rel. Bd. v. Crompton-Highland Mills, Inc. 337 U.S. 217 (1949) ] [337 U.S. 217 , 218]  

    Mr. David P. Findling, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

    Mr. Ralph Williams, Atlanta, Ga., for respondent.

    Mr. Justice BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

    In this case a collective bargaining representative was certified, under the National Labor Relations Act,1 to represent all employees working a certain appropriate bargaining unit. Their employer engaged in extended negotiations with this representative as to many matters, including rates of pay. December 19, 1945, the negotiations reached an impasse. The question here presented is whether this employer engaged in an unfair labor practice when, on January 1, 1946, it put into effect as of December 31, 1945, without prior consultation with the bargaining representative, a general increase in the rates of pay applicable to most of the employees who had been represented in the negotiations. This increase [337 U.S. 217 , 219]   was substantially greater one than any which the employer had offered during the negotiations. For the reasons to be stated, we hold that, under the circumstances, this action constituted an unfair labor practice and that a decree should be entered enforcing an order prohibiting such conduct. The case also raises questions as to the nature of the impasse which was reached and as to the proper scope and terms of the enforcement decree.

    August 13, 1945, the Textile Workers Union of America, Congress of Industrial Organizations, following an election under the statute, was certified as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for about 800 employees of Crompton-Highland Mills, respondent herein. These employees included most of its production and maintenance employees at Griffin, Georgia, where it manufactured cotton and other goods. Much of the material entering into those goods and most of the finished goods there produced were bought, sold or transported in interstate commerce, so that the unfair labor practice, if any, concededly affected such commerce. From August 31, 1945, at least until December 19, a committee of this union engaged in collective bargaining with the respondent on numerous appropriate subjects, including rates of pay. Many tentative agreements were reached.

    January 1, 1946, without prior consultation with any member of the bargaining committee, the employer announced a general and substantial increase in the rates of pay of its employees, amounting to about two to six cents an hour, effective as of December 31, 1945. This increase applied to most, but not all of the employees in the bargaining unit. Simultaneously with its posting of t e announcement of this increase, the employer told the employee members of the bargaining committee about it. At the same time the employer mailed an announcement of it to one of the two nonemployee members of the bargaining committee. [337 U.S. 217 , 220]   January 31, 1946, the National Labor Relations Board, petitioner herein, in response to charges made by the union, filed a complaint against the employer, alleging several unfair labor practices. 2 These included the above-described increase in rates of pay. After hearings before a trial examiner and consideration of that examiner's intermediate report, the employer's exceptions and brief relating to that report and the entire record and oral arguments, the Board, on August 21, 1946, issued a cease and desist order. 70 N.L.R.B. 206. The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied a petition for enforcement. 167 F.2d 662. Because of the importance of the issue in the administration of the labor relations statutes, we granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 812 .

    The precise issue presented is what decree, if any, should be issued by the Court of Appeals for the enforcement of the order of the National Labor relations Board. 3 If a decree is to be issued, its scope and terms should be based upon such part, or all, of the Board's cease and desist order as is supported by its findings of fact. Those findings are binding upon us to the extent that they are sustained by substantial evidence. 4 We are satisfied [337 U.S. 217 , 221]   that there is substantial evidence to support the material findings of fact made by the Board as to the issue before us and, therefore, see no need to set forth that evidence here. The primary issue for discussion is, rather, the extent to which the Board's findings of fact support its cease and desist order and justify a decree for the enforcement of that order.

    The controlling specific findings of the Board are as follows: 'As fully discussed in the Intermediate Report, the respondent, during the course of negotiations with the Union, refused to accede to the Union's wage demands and it was not until their last conference on December 19, 1945, that the respondent made its first and only counterproposal of approximately 1 to 1 1/2 cents an hour raise, which the Union rejected. Thereafter, the r spondent made no further effort to settle the wage dispute but, instead, on January 1, 1946, only 12 days later, granted its employees a substantially larger increase than that previously offered to the Union, without consulting the Union or affording it an opportunity to negotiate with respect thereto. In our opinion, such action taken as (so) soon after the Union was attempting through the bargaining process to reach an agreement with the respondent, among other things, on wages, clearly shows that the respondent was not acting in good faith during the negotrations, and is manifestly in- [337 U.S. 217 , 222]   consistent with the principle of collective bargaining. Nor are we impressed with the respondent's attempted justification for its action on the ground that the Union broke off negotiations on December 19 and that the respondent was therefore relieved of the obligation to deal with it. Concededly, the respondent never proposed to the Union as a possible basis of agreement a wage increase comparable to that granted on January 1, 1946. Moreover, the record fails to support the respondent's contention that the Union's representatives assumed an unequivocal position at the last meeting which foreclosed further bargaining concerning wages or other terms or conditions of employment. Under these circumstances, we find, as did the Trial Examiner, that the respondent, by its action with respect to the wage increase, failed to perform its statutory duty to bargain collectively with the Union and thereby interfered with, restrained, and coerced its employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in the Act.' (Emphasis supplied.) 70 N.L.R.B. at pages 206-207. 5 [337 U.S. 217 , 223]   1. The employer engaged in an unfair labor practice when, without consulting the employees' collective bargaining representative, it put into effect, for most of its employees who had been represented in the bargaining negotiations, a general increase in rates of pay which was substantially greater than any that the employer had offered.

    The specific findings of the Board, coupled with the findings adopted by it from the trial examiner's report, leave no room for doubt as to the adequacy of the facts upon which its cease and desist o der was based. For significant findings adopted from the examiner's report, see Appendix B, infra, 337 U.S. 230 . The facts so found distinguish this case from any in which no collective bargaining representative has been certified or otherwise authorized to represent the employees in an appropriate unit. 6 In the instant case, the wish of the employees to [337 U.S. 217 , 224]   be consulted and to bargain collectively as to the terms of any general wage increase is established by the findings and the negotiations. Cf. National Labor Relations Board v. Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., 306 U.S. 292, 297 , 504. We do not have here a case where the bargaining had come to a complete termination cutting off the outstanding invitation of the certified collective bargaining representative to bargain as to any new issue on such a matter as rates of pay. Cf. National Labor Relations Board v. Sands Mfg. Co., 306 U.S. 332 . The opening which a raise in pay makes for the correction of existing inequities among employees and for the possible substitution of shorter hours, vacations or sick leaves, in lieu of some part of the proposed increase in pay, suggests the infinite opportunities for bargaining that are inherent in an announced readiness of an employer to increase generally the pay of its employees. The occasion is so appropriate for collective bargaining that it is difficult to infer an intent to cut off the opportunity for bargaining and yet be consistent with the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act.

    We do not here have a unilateral grant of an increase in pay made by an employer after the same proposal has been made by the employer in the course of collective bargaining but has been left unaccepted or even rejected in those negotiations. Such a grant might well carry no disparagement of the collective bargaining proceedings. Instead of being regarded as an unfair labor practice, it [337 U.S. 217 , 225]   might be welcomed by the bargaining representative, without prejudice to the rest of the negotiations. See In the Matter of W. W. Cross & Co., 77 N. L.R.B. 1162; In the Matter of Exposition Cotton Mills Co., 76 N.L.R.B. 1289; In the Matter of Southern Prison Co., 46 N.L.R.B. 1268.

    We hold that the Board's order to cease and desist is justified, under the circumstances of this case, to the extent that the order requires the employer to cease and desist from refusing to bargain collectively by taking action, without prior consultation with the authorized collective bargaining representative of the employees, with respect to general rates of pay which are substantially different from, or greater than, any which the employer has proposed during its negotiations with such representative. The need for this order depends in part upon the Board's finding that the action by the employer, on January 1, 1946, taken so soon after the meeting of December 19, 1945, showed that 'the respondent (employer) was not acting in good faith during the negotiations, and is manifestly inconsistent with the principle of collective bargaining.' 70 N.L.R.B. at page 207. See May Dept. Stores Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 326 U.S. 376 , 90 L.Ed 145; Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 678 ; National Labor Relations Board v. Newark Morning Ledger Co., 3 Cir., 120 F.2d 262, 137 A.L.R. 849; Jeffery-De Witt Insulator Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 4 Cir., 91 F.2d 134,7 112 A.L.R. 948. [337 U.S. 217 , 226]   II. The decree of enforcement should not extend further than necessary to prevent the taking of the prohibited action by the employer.

    There are no findings by the Board that establish a lack of good faith or lack of consistency with the principle of collective bargaining on the part of the employer other than in the connection above discussed. The Board declined to uphold the trial examiner in his findings and recommendations as to several alleged unfair labor practices other than this one. The Board's own finding as to the employer's interference with, and restraint and coercion of, its employees is expressly limited to this one item. It reads: 'Under these circumstances, we find, as did the Trial Examiner, that the respondent, by its action with respect to the wage increase, failed to perform its statutory duty to bargain collectively with the Union and thereby interfered with, restrained, and coerced its employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in the Act.' (Emphasis supplied.) 70 N.L.R.B. at page 207.

    Accordingly, there appears no reason for enlarging the scope of the enforcement decree beyond that feature, and little, if any, need for orders requiring either specific affirmative action to be taken by the employer or the posting of any notices by it. 8   [337 U.S. 217 , 227]   For these reasons, the judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded to the Court of Appeals for action consistent with this opinion.

    It is so ordered.

    Reversed and remanded.

    Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, Mr. Justice MURPHY and Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE join in Part I of this opinion, but think the Board's order should be enforced without modification.

    Appendix A.

    Order of National Labor Relations Board In the Mat er of Crompton- Highland Mills, Inc., and Textile Workers Union of America, CIO, Case No. 10-C1812.-Decided August 21, 1946.

    (Representative.) (Title.)

    Quotations from the 'Findings of Fact' as to-'III. The Unfair Labor Practices, A. The refusal to bargain' as stated in the Intermediate Report of the Trial Examiner, adopted by the National Labor Relations Board and printed by the Board following its Decision and Order.

    [ Footnote 1 ] 9 of the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 453, 29 U.S.C. ( 1940 Ed.) 159, 29 U.S.C.A. 159; In the Matter of Crompton-Highland Mills, 62 N.L.R.B. 1346.

    [ Footnote 2 ] Under 7, 8(1) and (5), and 10 of the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 452─455, 29 U.S.C. (1940 Ed.) 157, 158(1) and (5), and 160, 29 U.S.C.A. 157, 158(1, 5), 160.

    [ Footnote 3 ] For the Board's order, see Appendix A., infra, 337 U.S. 227 , 69 S. Ct. 965.

    [ Footnote 4 ] 'The findings of the Board as to the facts, if supported by evidence, shall be conclusive.' 10(e) of the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 454, 29 U.S.C. (1940 Ed.) 160(e), 29 U.S.C.A. 160(e). 'The findings of the Board with respect to questions of fact if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole shall be conclusive.' 10(e), as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act. 1947, 61 Stat. 148, 29 U.S.C. (1946 Ed., Supp. I) 160(e), 29 U.S.C.A. 160(e).

    See also, Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 678 , 681, note 1, 832; Consolidated Edison Co. of New York v. National Labor relations Board, 305 U.S. 197, 229 , 216; Washington, Virginia & Maryland Coach Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 301 U.S. 142 , 146─147, 57 S. Ct. 648, 649─650.

    [ Footnote 5 ] In addition to its own findings, quoted in the text, the Board adopted, in general terms, all of the findings of the trial examiner, with certain modifications and exceptions not here material. A number of such adopted findings, which are of significance in securing a full appreciation of the basis for the Board's order, are set forth in Appendix B, infra, 337 U.S. 230 .

    The increase in pay was explained by Herbert A. Pickford, manager of the respondent, as follows in his testimony before the trial examiner:

    [ Footnote 6 ] 'Sec. 8. (a) It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer─

    [ Footnote 7 ] Even though the employer, since January 1, 1946, may have carried on collective bargaining in good faith as to rates of pay and other matters, a decree enforcing the original order against making a general increase without consulting the collective bargaining representatives is justifiable. '* * * an order of the character made by the Board, lawful when made, does not become moot because it is obeyed or because changing circumstances indicate that the need for it may be less than when made.' National Labor Relations Board v. Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, 303 U.S. 261, 271 , 576, 115 A.L.R. 307. See, also, Federal Trade Commission v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 304 U.S. 257 , 58 S. Ct. 863.

    [ Footnote 8 ] '* * * The breadth of the order, like the injunction of a court, must depend upon the circumstances of each case, the purpose being to prevent violations, the threat of which in the future is indicated because of their similarity or relation to those unlawful acts which the Board has found to have been committed by the employer in the past. * * * We hold only that the National Labor Relations Act does not give the Board an authority, which courts cannot rightly exercise, to enjoin violations of all the provisions of the statute merely because the violation of one has been found. To justify an order restraining other violations it must appear that they bear some resemblance to that which the employer has committed or that danger of their commission in the future is to be anticipated from the course of his conduct in the past. That justification is lacking here.' National Labor Relations Board v. Express Pub. Co., 312 U.S. 426 , 436─437, and see pages 438─439, 700.

    See also, May Dept. Stores Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 326 U.S. 376 , 392─393, 212─213; J. I. Case Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 332 , 341─342, 582.

    [ Footnote 18 ] 'As will be seen, certain employees were not included in the wage increase.'

    [ Footnote 19 ] 'The increase did not affect janitors, sweepers, scrubbers, outside help, and various other categories of employees included in the unit represented by the Union.'

    [ Footnote 20 ] 'See Franks Bros. Co. v. N.L.R.B., 321 U.S. 702, 705 , 819.'

    [ Footnote 21 ] 'See Aluminum Ore Company v. N.L.R.B., 7 Cir., 131 F.2d 485, 487, 147 A.L.R. 1, enforcing 39 N.L.R.B. 1286, 1295─1299; May Department Stores v. N.L.R.B., 326 U.S. 376 . See also, Majority Rule in Collective Bargaining, by Ruth Weyand, Columbia Law Review, Vol. XLV, 579─583, and footnotes at 581, for an excellent discussion and citation of authority on, The Power of a Statutory Representative to Bar Unilateral Changes by Employer.'

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