406 U.S. 272 (1972), 71-123, National Labor Relations Board v. Burns International Security Services, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 71-123
Citation:406 U.S. 272, 92 S.Ct. 1571, 32 L.Ed.2d 61
Party Name:National Labor Relations Board v. Burns International Security Services, Inc.
Case Date:May 15, 1972
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 272

406 U.S. 272 (1972)

92 S.Ct. 1571, 32 L.Ed.2d 61

National Labor Relations Board

v.

Burns International Security Services, Inc.

No. 71-123

United States Supreme Court

May 15, 1972

Argued January 13, 1972

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Wackenhut Corp., a company that had provided plant protection service for a Lockheed Aircraft Service Co. factory, had entered into a collective bargaining agreement with the United Plant Guard Workers (UPG), the union certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as the representative of a majority of Wackenhut guards at the plant after an NLRB election. A few months later, Wackenhut's service contract expired, and it was succeeded by Burns International Security Services, which knew of the collective bargaining agreement. Burns employed 27 of the 42 Wackenhut guards, but refused to recognize UPG or to honor the agreement, and denied any obligation to bargain with UPG. The NLRB found that Burns violated §§ 8(a)(5) and 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act by failing to recognize and bargain with UPG and by refusing to honor the collective bargaining agreement, and ordered Burns to abide by the terms of the [92 S.Ct. 1575] agreement and to

give retroactive effect to all the clauses of said [Wackenhut] contract and, with interest of 6 percent, make whole its employees for any losses suffered by reason of Respondent's [Burns'] refusal to honor, adopt and enforce said contract.

The Court of Appeals held that the NLRB had exceeded its powers in ordering Burns to honor the contract executed by Wackenhut

Held:

1. Where the bargaining unit remained unchanged and a majority of the employees hired by the new employer were represented by a recently certified bargaining agent, the NLRB correctly implemented the express mandates of §§ 8(a)(5) and 9(a) of the Act by ordering the new employer, Burns, to bargain with the incumbent union, UPG. Pp. 277-281.

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2. While successor employers may be bound to recognize and bargain with the incumbent union, they are not bound by the substantive provisions of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by their predecessors but not agreed to or assumed by them. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Livingston, 376 U.S. 543, distinguished. Pp. 281-291.

3. The NLRB's order for monetary restitution to Burns' employees cannot be sustained on the ground that Burns committed an unfair labor practice by unilaterally changing existing terms and conditions of employment. Burns had no previous relationship to the unit and no outstanding terms and conditions of employment, so that Burns did not change its terms and conditions of employment when it specified the initial basis on which it would hire employees when it inaugurated its protection service at the plant. Pp. 292-296.

441 F.2d 911, affirmed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court in No. 71-123, and for the Court in No. 71-198, in which DOUGLAS, STEWART, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in No. 71-123 and dissenting in No. 71198, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN and POWELL. JJ., joined, post, p. 296.

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WHITE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Burns International Security Services, Inc. (Burns), replaced another employer, the Wackenhut Corp. (Wackenhut), which had previously provided plant protection services for the Lockheed Aircraft Service Co. (Lockheed) located at the Ontario International Airport in California. When Burns began providing security service, it employed 42 guards; 27 of them had been employed by Wackenhut. Burns refused, however, to bargain with the United Plant Guard Workers of America (UPG) which had been certified after a National Labor Relations Board (Board) election as the exclusive bargaining representative of Wackenhut's employees less than four months earlier. The issues presented in this case are whether Burns refused to bargain with a union representing a majority of employees in an appropriate unit and whether the National Labor Relations Board could order Burns to observe the terms of a collective bargaining contract signed by the union and Wackenhut that Burns had not voluntarily assumed. Resolution turns to a great extent on the precise facts involved here.

I

The Wackenhut Corp. provided protection services at the Lockheed plant for five years before Burns took over this task. On February 28, 1967, a few months before the changeover of guard employers, a majority of the Wackenhut guards selected the union as their exclusive bargaining representative in a Board election after Wackenhut and the union had agreed that the Lockheed plant was the appropriate bargaining unit. On March 8,

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the Regional Director certified the union as the exclusive [92 S.Ct. 1576] bargaining representative for these employees, and, on April 29, Wackenhut and the union entered into a three-year collective bargaining contract.

Meanwhile, since Wackenhut's one-year service agreement to provide security protection was due to expire on June 30, Lockheed had called for bids from various companies supplying these services, and both Burns and Wackenhut submitted estimates. At a pre-bid conference attended by Burns on May 15, a representative of Lockheed informed the bidders that Wackenhut's guards were represented by the union, that the union had recently won a Board election and been certified, and that there was in existence a collective bargaining contract between Wackenhut and the union. App. 4-5, 126.1 Lockheed then accepted Burns' bid, and, on May 31, Wackenhut was notified that Burns would assume responsibility for protection services on July 1. Burns chose to retain 27 of the Wackenhut guards, and it brought in 15 of its own guards from other Burns locations.

During June, when Burns hired the 27 Wackenhut guards, it supplied them with membership cards of the American Federation of Guards (AFG), another union with which Burns had collective bargaining contracts at other locations, and informed them that they had to become AFG members to work for Burns, that they would not receive uniforms otherwise, and that Burns "could not live with" the existing contract between Wackenhut and the union. On June 29, Burns recognized the AFG on the theory that it had obtained a card majority. On July 12, however, the UPG demanded that Burns recognize

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it as the bargaining representative of Burns' employees at Lockheed, and that Burns honor the collective bargaining agreement between it and Wachenhut. When Burns refused, the UPG filed unfair labor practice charges, and Burns responded by challenging the appropriateness of the unit and by denying its obligation to bargain.

The Board, adopting the trial examiner's findings and conclusions, found the Lockheed plant an appropriate unit and held that Burns had violated §§ 8(a)(2) and 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 452, as amended, 1 Stat. 140, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(2), 158(a)(1), by unlawfully recognizing and assisting the AFG, a rival of the UPG; and that it had violated §§ 8(a)(5) and 8(a)(1), 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(5), 158(a)(1), by failing to recognize and bargain with the UPG and by refusing to honor the collective bargaining agreement that had been negotiated between Wackenhut and UPG.2

Burns did not challenge the § 8(a)(2) unlawful assistance finding in the Court of Appeals, but sought review of the unit determination and the order to bargain and observe the preexisting collective bargaining contract. The Court of Appeals accepted the Board's unit determination and enforced the Board's order insofar as it

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related to the finding of unlawful assistance of a rival union and the refusal to bargain, but it held that the Board had exceeded its powers in ordering Burns to honor the contract executed by Wackenhut. Both Burns and the Board petitioned for certiorari, Burns challenging the unit determination and the bargaining order and the Board maintaining its position [92 S.Ct. 1577] that Burns was bound by the Wackenhut contract, and we granted both petitions, though we declined to review the propriety of the bargaining unit, a question which was presented in No. 71-198. 404 U.S. 822 (1971).

II

We address first Burns' alleged duty to bargain with the union, and, in doing so, it is well to return to the specific provisions of the Act, which courts and the Board alike are bound to observe. Section 8(a)(5), as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(5), makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer "to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 159(a) of this title." Section 159(a) provides that

[r]epresentatives designated or selected for the purposes of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for such purposes, shall be the exclusive representatives of all the employees in such unit for the purposes of collective bargaining. . . .

Because the Act itself imposes a duty to bargain with the representative of a majority of the employees in an appropriate unit, the initial issue before the Board was whether the charging union was such a bargaining representative.

The trial examiner first found that the unit designated by the regional director was an appropriate unit for bargaining. The unit found appropriate was defined as

[a]ll full-time and regular part-time employees of

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[Burns] performing plant protection duties as determined in Section 9(b)(3) of the [National Labor Relations] Act at Lockheed, Ontario International Airport, excluding office...

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