337 U.S. 656 (1949), 258, Labor Board v. Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

Docket NºNo. 258
Citation337 U.S. 656, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 93 L.Ed. 1602
Party NameLabor Board v. Pittsburgh Steamship Co.
Case DateJune 20, 1949
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Page 656

337 U.S. 656 (1949)

69 S.Ct. 1283, 93 L.Ed. 1602

Labor Board

v.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

No. 258

United States Supreme Court

June 20, 1949

Argued April 19, 1949

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. In a proceeding under the Wagner Act, 49 Stat. 449, the National Labor Relations Board adopted a trial examiner's findings without substantial change, and issued a cease and desist order against an employer. The Court of Appeals, without passing upon the sufficiency of the evidence, held that the findings and the order were invalidated by the trial examiner's bias as disclosed by his crediting Board witnesses and discrediting witnesses for the employer, and refused enforcement of the order.

Held: the decision of the Court of Appeals refusing enforcement of the order, on the ground of the trial examiner's bias, was not supported by the record. Pp. 657-660.

2. The Administrative Procedure Act and the Taft-Hartley Act were enacted after the Board's order and before the Court of Appeals' decision. Questions as to the applicability and possible effect of either or both of those Acts were apparently not dealt with by the Court of Appeals, and were not briefed with any elaboration before this Court.

Held: although the evidence in the case was sufficient under the Wagner Act to sustain the Board's findings and order, the cause is remanded to the Court of Appeals for consideration of the applicability and possible effect of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Taft-Hartley Act, which questions should be considered in the first instance by that Court. Pp. 661-662.

167 F.2d 126, reversed.

A cease and desist order issued by the National Labor Relations Board under the Wagner Act, 69 N.L.R.B. 1395, was refused enforcement by the Court of Appeals. 167 F.2d 126. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 857. Reversed and remanded, p. 662.

Page 657

RUTLEDGE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1945, the National Labor Relations Board, petitioner here, issued its complaint charging respondent with the commission of certain unfair labor practices in the course of operating its fleet of Great Lakes bulk cargo vessels. As developed at a hearing before a trial examiner, the Board's charges were, in substance, that, in 1944, respondent interfered with attempts by the National Maritime Union to organize respondent's seamen, with the purpose and the ultimately achieved effect of causing the union's repudiation at a Board-sponsored election.1 Specifically, there was testimony tending to show that licensed personnel (officers) on certain of respondent's ships by word and deed had expressed to their unlicensed seamen bitter hostility to the union and its members; that respondent's president, one Ferbert, had written two letters to every seaman covertly suggesting in inaccurate fashion the possible disadvantages of NMU representation, and that one Shartle was discharged from respondent's employ for engaging in union organization. Some of the Board's testimony, tendered by union witnesses, was controverted by respondent's witnesses, and respondent also introduced testimony tending to show that it had strictly enjoined its licensed personnel to remain wholly neutral

Page 658

in the weeks leading up to and including the Board election.

The trial examiner concluded that respondent had interfered with NMU organization in violation of §§ 7 and 8(1) of the Wagner Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 157, 158(1), and had fired an employee for union activity in violation of § 8(3), 29 U.S.C. § 158(3). Respondent's exceptions to the trial examiner's findings were briefed and [69 S.Ct. 1285] argued before the Board in accordance with its usual procedure. On August 13, 1946, the Board adopted the trial examiner's findings without substantial change, and issued its order requiring respondent to cease and desist from its anti-union conduct and to reinstate the wrongfully discharged Shartle with full seniority and reimbursement for lost wages. 69 N.L.R.B. 1395.

Two months later, respondent petitioned the Court of Appeals to review the Board's order; the Board filed a counterpetition for enforcement of the order. On April 5, 1948, the court announced its decision refusing enforcement. 167 F.2d 126. The court did not determine whether the evidence, if credited, would support the findings. Instead, it held the findings and the order based thereon invalidated by the latent, pervasive, and unremedied bias of the trial examiner -- a bias found apparent on the face of the record:

Without exception, whenever there was a conflict of evidence, the witnesses for the [Company] were held to be untrustworthy and those for the union reliable. . . . It is enough to say that the unvarying repudiation of every witness for the petitioner because of falsity, evasion, or faint recollection, along with the consistent exaltation of every union witness as truthful, forthright, and accurate destroys...

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321 practice notes
  • 220 F.2d 126 (7th Cir. 1955), 11121, National Labor Rel. Bd. v. Wagner Iron Works
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • March 7, 1955
    ...called by the General Counsel. This fact, if it had been the fact, would not of itself prove bias. N.L.R.B. v. Pittsburgh Steamship Co., 337 U.S. 656, 658-660, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 93 L.Ed. 1602. Furthermore, in instances where the General Counsel's witnesses were credited over Company witnesses,......
  • 664 F.2d 1074 (7th Cir. 1981), 81-1132, Justak Bros. and Co., Inc. v. N.L.R.B.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
    • November 25, 1981
    ...circumstances that warrant overturning the Administrative Law Judge's credibility resolutions. See NLRB v. Pittsburgh S. S. Co., 337 U.S. 656, 659-60, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 1285-86, 93 L.Ed. 1602 (1949); Electri-Flex Co. v. NLRB, 570 F.2d 1327, 1331-32 (7th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 911, ......
  • 86 Cal.App.3d 448, 17800, Perry Farms, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd.
    • United States
    • California California Court of Appeals
    • November 17, 1978
    ...testimony is incredible on its face, or is inherently improbable. (See National Labor Relations Bd. v. Pittsburgh S. S. Co. (1949) 337 U.S. 656, 660, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 1285, 93 L.Ed. 1602, 1606; Kircher v. Atchison T. & S. F. Ry. Co. (1948) 32 Cal.2d 176, 183; Kendall v. Bd. of Osteopathic......
  • 26 Mass.App.Ct. 838 (1989), 87-1112, Irving Saunders Trust v. Board of Assessors of Boston
    • United States
    • Massachusetts Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • February 3, 1989
    ...basis of impartial, reasoned judgment may be discredited; e.g., testimony that 'carries its own death wound,' NLRB v. Pittsburgh S.S. Co., 337 U.S. 656, 660, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 1285, 93 L.Ed. 1602 (1949), or supporting testimony that is robbed of persuasive substance by other testimony, not its......
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319 cases
  • Independent Sprinkler & Fire Protection Co., 941 (1975)
    • United States
    • September 30, 1975
    ...to 9 of the 11 terminations alleged to be unlawful-provides affirmative support for such allegations. N.L.R.B. v. Pittsburgh S.S. Company, 337 U.S. 656, 659; Shattuck Denn Mining Corporation (Iron King Branch) v. N. L. R. B., 362 F.2d 466, 470 (C.A. 9, 79 Additionally, I note that the first......
  • 25 F.3d 473 (7th Cir. 1994), 93-1746, N.L.R.B. v. Q-1 Motor Exp., Inc.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 25, 1994
    ...sworn testimony, or the acceptance of facially incredible testimony. See Central Transp., 997 F.2d at 1190; see also Pittsburgh S.S. Co., 337 U.S. 656, 659-60, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 1285-86, 93 L.Ed. 1602 (1949). It urges, however, that the ALJ in this case displayed "constant antagonism towa......
  • 325 Mass. 621 (1950), Town House, Inc. of Boston v. Hurley
    • United States
    • Massachusetts United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 5, 1950
    ...them.' United States v. Yellow Cab Co., 338 U.S. 338, 341, 70 S.Ct. 177, 179; National Labor Relations Board v. Pittsburgh Steamship Co., 337 U.S. 656, 659, 69 S.Ct. 1283. The findings in the instant case which we have just mentioned are not shown to be plainly wrong and cannot be set aside......
  • 697 F.2d 113 (6th Cir. 1982), 81-1061, Local Union No. 948, Intern. Broth. of Elec. Workers, (IBEW), AFL-CIO v. N.L.R.B.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • December 27, 1982
    ...added). Credibility determinations are accepted unless there is no rational basis for them. NLRB v. Pittsburgh Steamship Company, 337 U.S. 656, 660, 69 S.Ct. 1283, 1285, 93 L.Ed. 1602 (1949) (credibility determination should be accepted unless the credited evidence carries its own death wou......
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2 books & journal articles
  • Bias in environmental agency decision making.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 45 Nbr. 4, September 2015
    • September 22, 2015
    ...confirmed as federal judges, sometimes display." (emphasis in original)); see also Nat'l Labor Relations Bd. v. Pittsburgh S.S. Co., 337 U.S. 656, 659-60 (1949) (holding that a hearing officer's total rejection of the view of one party cannot of itself impugn the integrity of the trier......
  • July 2000, pg. 160. Time to Rein in the NLRB.
    • United States
    • Maine Bar Journal Nbr. 2000, January 2000
    • January 1, 2000
    ...truth," because it "is of such nature that it cannot in law be discredited." NLRB v. Pittsburgh S.S. Co., 337 U.S. 656, 659 (1951). As one court of appeals has observed, this standard makes it easy for "a savvy ALJ" to convert limited judicial review ......