506 F.2d 174 (D.C. Cir. 1974), 72-1554, United Shoe Workers of America, AFL-CIO v. Bedell

Docket Nº:72-1554.
Citation:506 F.2d 174
Party Name:UNITED SHOE WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, et al., Appellants, v. Catherine BEDELL, Chairman, et al.
Case Date:October 23, 1974
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

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506 F.2d 174 (D.C. Cir. 1974)



Catherine BEDELL, Chairman, et al.

No. 72-1554.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

October 23, 1974

Argued Sept. 6, 1973.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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John Silard, Washington, D.C., with whom Joseph L. Rauh, Jr., Washington, D.C., was on the brief, for appellants.

Stephen F. Eilperin, Atty., Dept. of Justice, with whom Harold H. Titus, Jr., U.S. Atty., at the time brief was filed, and Morton Hollander, Atty., Dept. of Justice, were on the brief, for appellees. Alan S. Rosenthal, Atty., Dept. of Justice, also entered an appearance for appellees.

Before BAZELON, Chief Judge, and LEVENTHAL and ROBINSON, Circuit judges


Section 301(a)(2) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 1 authorizes a labor union, on behalf of its members, to petition the United States Tariff Commission for 'adjustment assistance' 2 when, as provided by Section 301(c) (2), increased importation of 'an article like or directly competitive with an article produced by such workers' firm' has 'caus(ed), or threaten(ed) to cause, unemployment or underemployment' of such workers. 3 Appellants 4 brought this action in the District Court seeking a judgment declaring that adjustment assistance is available to workers when the market for the article their firm produces is being injured or threatened by imported articles that contain the firm's product as a component. 5 Both appellants and appellees 6 filed motions for summary judgment, and the District Court granted judgment in favor of appellees. 7

After setting out the procedural background of this appeal, 8 we trace the historical development of the phrase 'like or directly competitive' through earlier trade acts 9 and the passage of the Trade Expansion Act. 10 We also consider the effect of the legislative definition of 'directly competitive' in construing the word 'like' 11 and the relevancy of a current act that includes the same phrase. 12 We affirm the judgment of the District Court. We hold that imported finished women's shoes are not

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'LIKE' 13 DOMESTIC COMPONENTS OF WOmen's shoES WITHIn the meaning of Section 301(c) (2).


Brown Counter Company manufactures counters 14 for women's shoes and sells them solely to domestic manufacturers of ready-to-wear shoes. A counter is a necessary component of a normal shoe 15 because the leather in the heel of the shoe could not hold its shape without the reinforcement the counter provides. Shoe manufacturers generally purchase counters from independent suppliers like Brown instead of making them in their own factories.

Appellants petitioned the Tariff Commission, contending that the increased importation of 'wholly assembled women's footwear,' brought on by tariff concessions, had severely reduced comestic production of shoes and consequently had diminished the demand for domestic counters. The Commission found that importation of counters for women's shoes had been 'negligible or nil' and rejected appellants' petition, 16 stating that it 'does not regard imports of women's footwear containing counters to be 'directly competitive' with counters.' 17 Appellants' motion for reconsideration by the Commission was denied.

Appellants' action was then brought in the District Court for review of the Commission's decision. The court found the Commission's conclusion 'appealing on semantic, legal and practical grounds,' 18 and held that 'component part manufacturers must of necessity be excluded from the adjustment assistance scheme of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.' 19 Accordingly, summary judgment for appellees was granted.

Appellants first argue that the District Court's judgment is contrary to the plain meaning of Section 301(c)(2). They also maintain that the decision is inconsistent with the congressional intent and purpose revealed in the legislative history of the Trade Expansion Act. Finally, appellants assert that the interpretation of analogous statutory provisions requires reversal. We find none of these contentions persuasive.

In construing statutes, courts must first look to the language of the legislation; 20 if its language 'admits of no more than one meaning, the duty of interpretation does not arise . . ..' 21

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This task cannot be performed by looking at a single word in isolation. 22 Appellants and appellees both present us with arguments assigning a plain meaning to 'like' in Section 301(c)(2). We have scrutinized the Trade Expansion Act in its entirety and are unable to accept either argument. The strongest conclusion yielded by our analysis of the bare language of the Act is that it could be read to embrace either interpretation.

When the meaning of a word in a statute is not clear from the language of the statute itself, 'there must be recourse to all the aids available in the process of construction, to history and analogy and practice as well as to the dictionary.' 23 We turn first to legislative history of the Act and preceding analogous provisions.


A. Prior Legislation

In 1934, the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act 24 launched a reciprocal trade agreements program. The Act was one of several emergency measures adopted to revive our economy, and was the first relaxation of the solid tariff wall erected by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. 25 The trade agreements program has since become a standard feature in our national economic policy.

The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act authorized the President to negotiate with other countries a mutual lowering of tariffs. 26 This authorization was a bold new step, however, and the inability to forecast the effects of tariff concessions resulted in embodiment in most trade agreements of an escape clause allowing for modification or withdrawal of the concessions. 27

In 1947, an executive order established a standard clause to be included in every trade agreement. 28 To trigger an invocation of the standard clause, a domestic manufacturer had to show that an imported product was 'like or similar' to his product, and had caused or threatened to cause him serious injury. 29 Shortly after issuance of this order, the General Agreement on Tariff and

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Trade 30 was signed in Geneva; it changed the word 'similar' to 'directly competitive,' 31 and this new term was adopted in 1949 by another executive order. 32

When Congress enacted the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1951, 33 it adopted the 'like or directly competitive' formula as the criterion for invoking escape-clause protection. 34 The first congressional indication of the meaning of this phrase came during the debates on the Trade Agreements Extension Act of 1955. 35 Senator Morse introduced an amendment to the 1951 Act 36 that, in his view, would have given producers of 'raw materials and components' the procedural right to be heard before the Tariff Commission. 37 On its face, the Morse amendment would have afforded component parts manufacturers the same relief as manufacturers of finished products, even if the 'like or directly competitive' article entered the United

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States as a component of a finished product. 38

The Executive Branch obviously understood the amendment to have this effect; 39 through its counsel it commented that the amendment 'would be impossible to administer' and would 'permit . . . manufacturers of nuts and bolts to claim escape-clause relief on account of the importation of automobiles.' 40 This reading of the proposed amendment finds additional support in Senator Morse's expressed concern that a Tariff Commission holding had brought domestic manufacturers of finished products within the scope of the 1951 Act, but had excluded producers of 'raw material or components from which the finished product (was) prepared.' 41 Congress rejected the Morse amendment. 42

B. The Trade Expansion Act

The Trade Expansion Act of 1962 must be viewed in this historical context. Until 1962, increased tariffs and withdrawal of concessions were the only options available to the President for relief of domestic manufacturers and their employees from increased imports due to trade concessions. 43 The Act, for the first time, gave the President the alternative remedy of adjustment assistance. There is no evidence, however, that Congress intended this new approach to benefit producers of component parts when the allegedly competing item has been processed into an entirely new article. Indeed, the legislative history compels the opposite conclusion.

During the congressional hearings 44 and debates, 45 the adjustment assistance provisions received considerable attention. There were numerous protests that some workers would receive preferential treatment over others. 46 More importantly, there were informative statements by key legislators dealing with the precise question confronting this court.

Some members of the House Ways and Means Committee analyzed the adjustment assistance provision as follows:

The displacement of a group of workers of the firm producing an article affected by imports, also affects the jobs of workers of other firms supply-services or components to the firm producing the article. The latter receive no special consideration under the bill, although equally affected by the same governmental act. 47

On the floor of the House, Representative Utt gave an example of his understanding of the bill:

Corporation A goes out of business because of imports. It had 500 employees.

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Corporation B, which was the sole supplier of that firm goes out of business. One...

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