466 F.2d 201 (5th Cir. 1972), 71-2677, N.L.R.B. v. J.M. Wood Mfg. Co., Inc.

Docket Nº:71-2677.
Citation:466 F.2d 201
Case Date:August 23, 1972
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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466 F.2d 201 (5th Cir. 1972)




No. 71-2677.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Aug. 23, 1972

Marcel Mallet-Prevost, Asst. Gen. Counsel, N. L. R. B., Washington, D.C., Elmer P. Davis, Director, Region 16, N. L. R. B., Fort Worth, Tex., Douglas S. McDowell, Atty., N. L. R. B., Washington, D. C., for petitioner.

Jacob Sheinkman, New York City, for Southwest Reg. Joint Bd., etc.

Edward F. Seligman, Herbert I. Meyer, New York City, for respondent.

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Before AINSWORTH, GODBOLD and MORGAN, Circuit Judges.

GODBOLD, Circuit Judge.

We grant an enforcement order against the company for refusal to bargain. 1

The most important issue is whether the company has shown sufficient reason for us to overturn the determination of the Regional Director that an appropriate bargaining unit is the company's plant at Waco, Texas. 2 The company contends that the evidence compelled a finding that the only appropriate unit was a multiplant unit which included its other three plants in other Texas cities. We attach as an appendix to this opinion findings of the Regional Director which set out the facts on this issue.

The Board's discretion in making unit determination is very broad, and our standard of review is narrow. NLRB v. Schill Steel Products, Inc., 340 F.2d 568 (5th Cir. 1965). The fact that a multiplant unit might also have been appropriate is not a basis for overturning the Board's determination. NLRB v. Fidelity Maintenance & Construction Co., 424 F.2d 707, 709 (5th Cir. 1970). The Board need choose only an appropriate unit, not the most appropriate unit. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. v. NLRB, 411 F.2d 356 (7th Cir. 1969).

There are a multitude of factors which the Board and the courts have employed as indicia in cases where the issue has been single versus multi units, including: operational integration of the units; geographical proximity; authority of the local unit supervisor, especially with regard to matters that traditionally are the subject of collective bargaining, such as hiring, firing, discipline, rates of pay, hours of employment, and benefits; type of work done by the employees in the unit; numerical size of the units; uniformity of wages, hours, working conditions and benefits; contact between employees at one unit and those at other units; interchange of employees; centralization of labor relations and collective bargaining. One case will emphasize one or more factors, the next will place more importance upon other factors, and what is emphasized in one may be deemphasized or distinguished in another. Harmonizing the cases into a uniform pattern is not wholly feasible, because of the factual nature of the determination, the broad discretion in the agency in making one of several acceptable choices, and the limited scope of correctly applied judicial scrutiny.

In this instance we are not able to say that the Regional Director was required to designate a multiplant unit or that he abused his discretion in designating the Waco plant as the unit. The Waco plant is not merely a sewing line like the other three plants, although it includes a sewing operation with a manager therefor. As the Regional Director pointed out, Waco is also the company's principal office and place of business. Some of the operations located at Waco and not at the other plants are these: overall management; cutting of material; pressing and shipping assembled garments; central purchasing and warehousing of materials; technical service department for sewing machinery and equipment and techniques; central research and development department for new machinery and equipment; central maintenance for plants and sewing machinery; central fabrication of samples; central manufacture and repair of furniture and other wood equipment; central storage for machinery and equipment; central personnel department which maintains personnel files (with appropriate duplicate files at each plant), establishes hiring tests and termination standards; quality control; central training department for sewing machine operators; central industrial engineering department which classifies jobs and determines and schedules overtime. The character of these operations,

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serving all plants to some degree, tends to integrate the business. But at the same time the presence of these numerous operations and departments, located at Waco, tends to establish the character of the Waco plant as much more than another sewing line.

The Regional Director was entitled to give weight to the distance between the plants. 3 Other factors undergirding his...

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