357 U.S. 93 (1958), 127, Local 1976, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners

Docket Nº:No. 127
Citation:357 U.S. 93, 78 S.Ct. 1011, 2 L.Ed.2d 1186
Party Name:Local 1976, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners
Case Date:June 16, 1958
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 93

357 U.S. 93 (1958)

78 S.Ct. 1011, 2 L.Ed.2d 1186

Local 1976, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners

No. 127

United States Supreme Court

June 16, 1958

of America, A.F.L. v. National Labor Relations Board

Argued March 12, 1958




1. Under § 8(b)(4)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, a "hot cargo" provision in a collective bargaining agreement between a labor union and an employer, providing that employees "shall not be required to handle non-union material" or "shall not be allowed to handle or haul freight to or from an unfair company," may not be enforced by union inducement of employees to refuse to handle such goods, and the existence of such a "hot cargo" provision is not a defense to a charge of an unfair labor practice under that section. Pp. 98-108.

2. When the employer is a common carrier in interstate commerce, such enforcement of a "hot cargo" provision is a violation of § 8(b)(4)(A) not because of a possible breach of the carrier's obligations under the Interstate Commerce Act, but for the same reasons that warrant the finding of a violation whenever employees have been induced by a union to refuse to handle such goods. Pp. 108-111.

241 F.2d 147 affirmed. 101 U.S.App.D.C. 80, 247 F.2d 71, affirmed in part, reversed in part, and cause remanded.

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FRANKFURTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases involve so-called "hot cargo" provisions in collective bargaining agreements. More particularly, they raise the question whether such a provision is a defense to a charge against a union of an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 61 Stat. 136, 141, 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4)(A).

[78 S.Ct. 1014] No. 127 arises out of a labor dispute between carpenter unions and an employer engaged in the building construction trade in Southern California. The Sand Door

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and Plywood Company is the exclusive distributor in Southern California of doors manufactured by the Paine Lumber Company of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Watson and Dreps are millwork contractors who purchase doors from Sand. Havstad and Jensen are general contractors who were, at the time of the dispute involved, engaged in the construction of a hospital in Los Angeles. Havstad and Jensen are parties to a master labor agreement negotiated with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America on behalf of its affiliated district councils and locals, including petitioner unions. This agreement, comprehensively regulating the labor relations of Havstad and Jensen and its carpenter employees, includes a provision that, "workmen shall not be required to handle non-union material."

In August, 1954, doors manufactured by Paine and purchased by Sand were delivered to the hospital construction site by Watson and Dreps. On the morning of August 17, Fleisher, business agent of petitioner Local 1976, came to the construction site and notified Steinert, Havstad and Jensen's foreman, that the doors were nonunion, and could not be hung. Steinert therefore ordered employees to cease handling the doors. When Nicholson, Havstad and Jensen's general superintendent, appeared on the job and asked Fleisher why the workers had been prevented from handling the doors, he stated that they had been stopped until it could be determined whether the doors were union or nonunion. Subsequent negotiations between officers of Sand and the union failed to produce an agreement that would permit the doors to be installed.

On the basis of charges filed by Sand and a complaint duly issued, the National Labor Relations Board found that petitioners had induced and encouraged employees to engage in a strike or concerted refusal to handle Paine's doors in order to force Havstad and Jensen and

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Sand to cease doing business with Paine, all in violation of § 8(b)(4)(A). 113 N.L.R.B. 1210. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit enforced the Board's cease and desist order, 241 F.2d 147, and we granted certiorari, 355 U.S. 808. The sole question tendered by the petition for certiorari concerned the relation between the hot cargo provision in the collective bargaining agreement and the charge of an unfair labor practice proscribed by § 8(b)(4)(A).1

Nos. 273 and 324 arise out of a labor dispute in Oklahoma City in which certain unions are said to have induced the employees of five common carriers to cease handling the goods of another employer in violation of § 8(b)(4)(A). American Iron and Machine Works was engaged in a controversy with Local 850 of the International Association of Machinists, the bargaining representative of its production and maintenance employees, and a strike had been called at the company's plants. Picketing at the plants prevented the carriers that normally served American Iron from making pickup and deliveries, so American Iron hauled freight in its own trucks to the [78 S.Ct. 1015] loading platforms of the carriers. The Machinists followed the trucks to the carriers' platforms and picketed them there, without making it clear that their dispute was only with American Iron. In addition, there was evidence that they expressly requested

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employees of some of the carriers not to handle American Iron freight. Teamsters Union Local 886, representative of the carriers' employees, instructed the employees to cease handling the freight. All the carriers except one expressly ordered their employees to move American Iron freight, but nevertheless they refused to do so. The Teamsters' contract with the carriers contained a provision that,

Members of the Union shall not be allowed to handle or haul freight to or from an unfair company, provided this is not a violation of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947.

On the basis of charges filed by American Iron, the Board issued complaints against the unions and found that both the Machinists and Teamsters, by their appeals or instructions to the carriers' employees, had violated § 8(b)(4)(A), notwithstanding the hot cargo provision in the collective bargaining agreement. 115 N.L.R.B. 800. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit set aside the order as to the Teamsters because of the hot cargo provision (No. 273), but enforced the order against the Machinists (No. 324). 101 U.S.App.D.C. 80, 247 F.2d 71. We granted certiorari in all three cases because of conflicts among the circuits as to the meaning of § 8(b)(4)(A) and because of the importance of the problem in the administration of the National Labor Relations Act, and ordered them consolidated for argument. 355 U.S. 808.2

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Section 8(b)(4)(A) provides that

It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents . . . (4) to engage in, or to induce or encourage the employees of any employer to engage in, a strike or a concerted refusal in the course of their employment to use, manufacture, process, transport, or otherwise handle or work on any goods, articles, materials, or commodities or to perform any services, where an object thereof is: (A) forcing or requiring . . . any employer or other person to cease using, selling, handling, transporting, or otherwise dealing in the products of any other producer, processor, or manufacturer, or to cease doing business with any other person. . . .

Whatever may have been said in Congress preceding the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act concerning the evil of all forms of "secondary boycotts" and the desirability of outlawing them, it is clear that no such sweeping prohibition was, in fact, enacted in § 8(b)(4)(A). The section does not speak generally of secondary boycotts. It describes and condemns specific union conduct directed to specific objectives. It forbids a union to induce employees to strike against or to refuse to handle goods for their employer when an object is to force him or another person to cease doing business with some third party. Employees must be induced; they must be induced to engage in a strike or concerted refusal; an object must be to force or require [78 S.Ct. 1016] their employer or another person to cease doing business with a third person. Thus, much that might argumentatively be found to fall within the broad and somewhat vague concept of secondary boycott is not, in terms, prohibited. A boycott voluntarily engaged in by a secondary employer for his own business

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reasons, perhaps because the unionization of other employers will protect his competitive position or because he identifies his own interests with those of his employees and their union, is not covered by the statute. Likewise, a union is free to approach an employer to persuade him to engage in a boycott so long as it refrains from the specifically prohibited means of coercion through inducement of employees.

From these considerations of what is not prohibited by the statute, the true scope and limits of the legislative purpose emerge. The primary employer, with whom the union is principally at odds, has no absolute assurance that he will be free from the consequences of a secondary boycott. Nor have other employers or persons who deal with either the primary employer or the secondary employer and who may be injuriously affected by the restrictions on commerce that flow from secondary boycotts. Nor has the general public. We do not read the words "other person" in the phrase "forcing or requiring . . . any employer or other person" to extend protection from the effects of a secondary boycott to such other person when the secondary employer himself, the employer of the employees involved, consents to the boycott. When he does consent, it cannot appropriately be said that there is a...

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