303 U.S. 453 (1938), 536, Santa Cruz Fruit Packing Co. v. National Labor Relations Board

Docket Nº:No. 536
Citation:303 U.S. 453, 58 S.Ct. 656, 82 L.Ed. 954
Party Name:Santa Cruz Fruit Packing Co. v. National Labor Relations Board
Case Date:March 28, 1938
Court:United States Supreme Court

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303 U.S. 453 (1938)

58 S.Ct. 656, 82 L.Ed. 954

Santa Cruz Fruit Packing Co.


National Labor Relations Board

No. 536

United States Supreme Court

March 28, 1938

Argued March 7, 1938




1. A corporation was engaged, in California, in the business of canning fruits and vegetables, raised in the State, and in disposing of its large output locally and in interstate and foreign commerce, 37% going to destinations beyond the State, partly on f.o.b. shipment and much of it by water. The goods shipped by boat were carried to the wharves on trucks loaded at the plant by warehousemen employed there. Many of these, upon being locked out by the company for having joined a labor union, formed a picket line, and this was so maintained that eventually the movement of trucks from warehouse to wharves ceased entirely. The teamsters refused to haul, the warehousemen at the dock warehouses declined to handle, and the stevedores between dock and ship refused to load, the company's goods. The National Labor Relations Board found that the discharge of the employees and the refusal to reinstate them constituted an unlawful discrimination under the National Labor Relations Act, and that the acts of the company tended to lead, and had led, to labor disputes burdening and obstructing interstate commerce. It ordered the company to desist from such practices, to reinstate, with back pay, the discharged employees, and to post notices, etc. Held that the case was within the jurisdiction of the Board, and that the order was properly sustained by the Circuit Court of Appeals. Pp. 463 et seq.

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2. Sales to purchasers in another State are not withdrawn from federal control because the goods are delivered f.o.b. at stated points within the origin for transportation. P. 463.

3. The federal power to protect interstate commerce in commodities does not depend upon their kind, and has been applied to the practices of manufacturers, processors, and labor unions. Carter v. Carter Coal Co., 298 U.S. 238, did not establish a different principle, or overrule the earlier decisions. P. 466.

4. The power of Congress to protect interstate commerce in manufactured articles from burdens and obstructions springing from labor disputes in the factory is not dependent upon an origin outside of the the raw materials used in the manufacturing process, nor is the place where the manufacturer makes his sales a controlling element if the sales in fact are in interstate commerce. Labor Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1. P. 464.

5. Cases respecting the state power to tax goods which have not begun to move in interstate commerce, or have come to rest within the State, or to adopt local police measures affecting them, do not deal with the extent of the power of Congress over interstate commerce, but are concerned with the question whether a particular exercise of state power, in view of its nature and operation, must be deemed to be in conflict with that paramount authority. P. 466.

6. Where federal control is sought to be exercised over activities which, separately considered, are intrastate, it must appear that there is a close and substantial relation to interstate commerce in order to justify the federal intervention for its protection. P. 466.

7. This principle is essential to the maintenance of our constitutional system. Id.

8. In maintaining the balance of the constitutional grants and limitations, it is inevitable that we should define their applications in the gradual process of inclusion and exclusion. And what is reasonably clear in a particular application is not to be overborne by the simple and familiar dialectic of suggesting doubtful and extreme cases. P. 467.

9. The question whether the labor practices of an employer are practices "affecting commerce," as defined by § 2(6) of the National Labor Relations Act, cannot be answered by mere reference to the percentage of the product sold in interstate and foreign commerce. The question that must be faced under the Act upon particular facts is whether the unfair labor practices involved have such a

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close and substantial relation to the freedom of interstate commerce from injurious restraint that these practices may constitutionally be made the subject of federal cognizance through provisions looking to the peaceable adjustment of labor disputes. P. 467.

91 F.2d 790 affirmed.

Certiorari, 302 U.S. 680, to review the affirmance of a judgment affirming in part an order of the National Labor Relations Board.

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HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

The National Labor Relations Board on April 2, 1936, after hearing, found that petitioner Santa Cruz Fruit Packing Company, a California corporation, had been engaged in unfair labor practices affecting commerce within the meaning of § 8, subdivisions (1) and (3) and § 2, subdivisions (6) and (7), of the National Labor Relations Act, and ordered petitioner to desist from such practices, to reinstate with back pay certain employees who had been discharged, and to post appropriate notices. 1 N.L.R.B. 454. Upon petition of the Board, the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the order so far as it related to petitioner's employees at its Oakland plant. 91 F.2d 790. In view of the importance of the [58 S.Ct. 658] question with respect to the application of the National Labor Relations Act, this Court granted certiorari.

There is no dispute as to the pertinent facts. The findings of the Board, supported by evidence, show the following:

Petitioner is engaged at its plant at Oakland in canning, packing, and shipping fruit and vegetables, the bulk of

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which are grown in that state. During the "peak" season, petitioner employs from 1,200 to 1,500 persons, of whom about 30 are warehousemen. The total "pack" in the year 1935 amounted to about 1,699,270 cases. Of this amount, about 37 percent were shipped in interstate or foreign commerce, 9.02 percent being sent to foreign countries, and approximately 473,620 cases, or about 27.89 percent, to various points in the United States outside California. The sales to purchasers outside the state were under either f.o.b. or c.i.f. San Francisco Bay Point contracts.

The methods of transportation are by water, rail, and truck. Export shipments go by water, and this is also the chief sort of carriage to points within the United States outside California, about 20 percent being shipped by rail and an undetermined amount by truck directly to the point of destination. "There is a constant stream of loading and shipping of products" out of petitioner's plant throughout the entire year. From 3,000 to 4,000 cases are loaded daily in the various vehicles of conveyance. That loading is a substantial and regular part of the work of the warehousemen in petitioner's employ. When the shipments are by rail or overland trucks, these employees load directly into the equipment of the principal carriers. When shipments are by boat, the warehousemen load the cases into the trucks which carry the goods to the docks.

Weighers, Warehousemen, and Cereal Workers Local 38-44, International Longshoremen's Association, is a labor organization affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. Its efforts to organize the Oakland plant were begun in July, 1935, and many of the permanent warehousemen made application for membership. When this came to the attention of petitioner early in August, the general manager announced that he would not permit a union in the plant, because of competitive conditions. On their return from a union meeting at which the men

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were to be initiated, members of the night shift were prevented from entering the plant, and, the next morning, the members of the day crew were similarly excluded. A picket line then formed, on the morning of August 8th, was maintained until September 27th with such effectiveness that eventually the movement of trucks from warehouses to wharves ceased entirely. The Board found:

The teamsters refused to haul Santa Cruz merchandise; the warehousemen at the dock warehouses who ordinarily unload the canned goods from the cars prior to their reloading into the ships, since they were members of the same union as the Santa Cruz warehousemen, also declined to handle Santa Cruz cargo. As members of the sister union, I.L.A. 38-79, the stevedores who move the goods from dock to ship also refused to move Santa Cruz cargo both at the East Bay and San Francisco docks during the entire period that the picket line was maintained. Other unions whose members refused to move "hot" Santa Cruz cargo were those members of the Sailors who comprised the crews of steam schooners and whose duties include the handling of cargo.

Petitioner points out that the refusal of the other unions to handle petitioner's goods was a violation of an arbitration award made in October, 1934, following the San Francisco maritime strike of that year.

The Board found that interference with the activities of employees in forming or joining labor organizations results in strikes and industrial unrest which habitually have had the effect in the canning industry of impeding the movement of canned products in interstate and foreign commerce. Reference was made to official statistics of the United States Department of Labor in relation to the canning and preserving industries from which it appeared that, of the fifteen strikes and lockouts in 1934 and the first six months of 1935, eight were the outcome of difficulties in regard to union recognition and discrimination

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for union activities, 7,484 workers being involved in those stoppages.

The Board concluded that the discharge of the employees named, and the refusal to reinstate them, constituted an unlawful discrimination [58 S.Ct. 659] under the...

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