386 U.S. 612 (1967), 110, National Woodwork Manufacturers Association v. National Labor Relations Board

Docket Nº:No. 110
Citation:386 U.S. 612, 87 S.Ct. 1250, 18 L.Ed.2d 357
Party Name:National Woodwork Manufacturers Association v. National Labor Relations Board
Case Date:April 17, 1967
Court:United States Supreme Court

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386 U.S. 612 (1967)

87 S.Ct. 1250, 18 L.Ed.2d 357

National Woodwork Manufacturers Association


National Labor Relations Board

No. 110

United States Supreme Court

April 17, 1967

Argued January 18 and 19, 1967




A general contractor (Frouge) working on a housing project in Philadelphia was subject to a collective bargaining agreement between a local carpenters' union and a general contractors' association in which it was agreed that union members would not handle premachined doors. Frouge, whose contract would have permitted "blank" doors, ordered premachined doors from a manufacturer, a member of the National Woodwork Manufacturers Association (NWMA). When the Union ordered its members not to hang the premachined doors, Frouge substituted "blank" doors, which the carpenters fitted and cut at the jobsite. The NWMA filed charges against the Union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming that, by including the "will not handle" provision in the collective bargaining agreement and enforcing it, the Union violated two provisions which the Landrum-Griffin Act respectively added to and amended in the National Labor Relations Act -- § 8(e), which makes it an unfair labor practice to enter into an agreement that an employer will refrain from handling the products of another employer, and § 8(b)(4)(B), which makes it an unfair labor practice to force a person to cease using the products of another manufacturer. The NLRB dismissed the charges, adopting its Trial Examiner's findings that the "will not handle" provision had as its object the preservation for jobsite carpenters of cutting out and fitting work which they had customarily performed, and its enforcement against Frouge constituted "primary activity" not prohibited by §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B). The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the § 8(e) charge, concluding that the "will not handle" provision was designed to effect a product boycott like that condemned

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in Allen Bradley Co. v. Union, 325 U.S. 797, and the NLRB petitioned for certiorari (No. 111). The court sustained dismissal of the § 8(b)(4)(B) charge, agreeing with the NLRB that the Union's conduct as to Frouge was a primary dispute, and, as such, came within the exemption proviso of Clause (B), and the NWMA petitioned for certiorari (No. 110).


1. Section 8(b)(4)(B) was enacted not to prohibit primary agreements and primary action directed to work preservation, but to prohibit "secondary" objectives, i.e., the exertion of pressure on a neutral employer. Pp. 619-633.

(a) Congress has stopped short of proscribing activity to pressure the employer for agreements regulating relations between him and his own employees. P. 620.

(b) The predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B) (the basic thrust of which was not changed by the Landrum-Griffin amendments) was enacted to eliminate the "secondary boycott" designed to injure the business of a third person not concerned in the disagreement between an employer and the union. Pp. 623-626.

(c) Judicial decisions interpreting the predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B) uniformly limited its application to "secondary" situations, and this Court has consistently refused to read the provision as banning traditional primary labor activity having an impact on neutral employers, even though such activity fell within the literal terms of the provision. Pp. 626-627.

(d) Allen Bradley Co., supra, distinguished. Pp. 628-631.

(e) In rewriting the predecessor provision as § 8(b)(4)(B), Congress confirmed the limited application of the section to "secondary" conduct, adding the proviso that nothing therein "shall be construed to make unlawful, where not otherwise unlawful, any primary strike or primary picketing." Pp. 632-633.

2. Section 8(e) likewise does not reach employees' primary activity, and does not prohibit agreements made to pressure their employer to preserve for themselves work traditionally done by them. Pp. 633-642.

(a) The addition of § 8(e) to the Act was designed to plug a loophole resulting from Carpenters' Union v. Labor Board (Sand Door), 357 U.S. 93, in which it was stressed that the mere execution of or an employer's voluntary observance of a "hot cargo" clause did not violate the predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B). Pp. 634-635.

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(b) The legislative history of § 8(e) and provisos preserving the status quo in the construction industry and exempting the garment industry from the prohibitions of §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B) indicate that primary work preservation agreements were not to be within the ban of § 8(e). Pp. 635-642.

3. Substantial evidence supported the Trial Examiner's finding, adopted by the NLRB, that the "will not handle" provision was designed to preserve work traditionally performed by jobsite carpenters, and that the Union's making of the "will not handle" agreement and its maintenance thereof did not, respectively, violate §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B). Pp. 645-646.

354 F.2d 594, affirmed in No. 110 and reversed in No. 111.

BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

Under the Landrum-Griffin Act amendments enacted in 1959, 73 Stat. 542, § 8(b)(4)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act, 61 Stat. 141, became § 8(b)(4)(B), and § 8(e) was added. The questions here are whether, in the circumstances of these cases, the Metropolitan District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity of the United

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Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, AFL-CIO (hereafter the Union), committed the unfair labor practices prohibited by § 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B).1

Frouge Corporation, a Bridgeport, Connecticut, concern, was the general contractor on a housing project in Philadelphia. Frouge had a collective bargaining agreement with the Carpenters' International Union under which Frouge agreed to be bound by the rules and regulations agreed upon by local unions with contractors in areas in which Frouge had jobs. Frouge was therefore subject to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and an organization of Philadelphia contractors, the General Building Contractors Association, Inc. A sentence in a provision of that agreement entitled Rule 17 provides that ". . . No member of this District Council will handle . . . any doors . . . which have been fitted prior to being furnished on the job. . . ."2 Frouge's Philadelphia project called for 3,600 doors. Customarily, before the doors could be hung on such projects, "blank" or "blind" doors would be mortised for the knob, routed for the hinges, and beveled to make them fit between jambs. These are tasks traditionally

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performed in the Philadelphia area by the carpenters employed on the jobsite. However, pre-cut and pre-fitted doors ready to hang may be purchased from door manufacturers. Although Frouge's contract and job specifications did not call for premachined doors, and "blank" or "blind" doors could have been ordered, Frouge contracted for the purchase of premachined doors from a Pennsylvania door manufacturer which is a member of the National Woodwork Manufacturers Association, petitioner in No. 110 and respondent in No. 111. The Union ordered its carpenter members not to hang the doors when they arrived at the jobsite. Frouge thereupon withdrew the prefabricated doors and substituted "blank" doors which were fitted and cut by its carpenters on the jobsite.

The National Woodwork Manufacturers Association and another filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the Union alleging that, by including the "will not handle" sentence of Rule 17 in the collective bargaining agreement, the Union committed the unfair labor practice under § 8(e) of entering into an "agreement . . . whereby [the] employer . . . agrees to cease or refrain from handling . . . any of the products of any other employer . . . ," and alleging further that, in enforcing the sentence against Frouge, the Union committed the unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4)(B) of "forcing or requiring any person to cease using . . . the products of any other . . . manufacturer. . . ." The National Labor Relations Board dismissed the charges, 149 N.L.R.B. 646.3 [87 S.Ct. 1254] The Board adopted the findings

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of the Trial Examiner that the "will not handle" sentence in Rule 17 was language used by the parties to protect and preserve cutting out and fitting as unit work to be performed by the jobsite carpenters. The Board also adopted the holding of the Trial Examiner that both the sentence of Rule 17 itself and its maintenance against Frouge were therefore "primary" activity outside the prohibitions of §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B). The following statement of the Trial Examiner was adopted by the Board:

I am convinced and find that the tasks of cutting out and fitting millwork, including doors, has, at least customarily, been performed by the carpenters employed on the jobsite. Certainly, this provision of rule 17 is not concerned with the nature of the employer with whom the contractor does business, nor with the employment conditions of other employers or employees, nor does it attempt to control such other employers or employees. The provision guards against encroachments on the cutting out and fitting work of the contract unit employees

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who have performed that work in the past. Its purpose is plainly to regulate the relations between the general contractor and his own employees and to protect a legitimate economic interest of the employees by preserving their unit work. Merely because it incidentally also affects other parties is no basis for invalidating this provision.

I find that . . . [the provision] is a lawful work protection or work preservation provision, and that Respondents have not violated Section 8(e) of the Act by entering into agreements containing this provision and by...

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