Co v. National Labor Relations Board, COLGATE-PALMOLIVE-PEET

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMINTON
Citation94 L.Ed. 161,338 U.S. 355,70 S.Ct. 166
PartiesCO. v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD et al
Decision Date05 December 1949
Docket NumberCOLGATE-PALMOLIVE-PEET,No. 47

338 U.S. 355
70 S.Ct. 166
94 L.Ed. 161
COLGATE-PALMOLIVE-PEET CO.

v.

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD et al.

No. 47.
Argued Nov. 17, 1949.
Decided Dec. 5, 1949.

Page 356

Mr. Ricardo J. Hecht, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner.

Miss Ruth Weyand, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice MINTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question we have here is whether a closed-shop contract, entered into and performed in good faith, and valid in the state where made, protects an employer from a charge of unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act.1

Petitioner was found by the National Labor Relations Board to have violated §§ 8(1) and 8(3) of the Act.2 On petition for review and cross-petition of the Board for enforcement of its order, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit entered a decree enforcing the Board's order.3 We granted certiorari limited to the question of the construction of § 8(3) of the Act in relation to this case,4 i.e., to examine the applicability of the so-called Rutland Court doctrine,5 here applied by the Board.

Page 357

The doctrine has been approved in the Second,6 Third,7 and Ninth Circuits,8 but disapproved in the Seventh Circuit.9

At the period of time in question in 1945, petitioner company was engaged in producing glycerin for war purposes. Petitioner has no record of antiunion or anti-organizational activities. Its employees were first organized and represented in 1936 by a union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor. In 1938 the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, became the representative of petitioner's employees. On July 9, 1941, the C.I.O. entered into a collective bargaining contract with petitioner which contained a closed-shop provision in these words:

'Section 3. The Employer agrees that when new employees are to be hired to do any work covered by Section One (1), they shall be hired through the offices of the Union, provided that the Union shall be able to furnish competent workers for work required. In the event the union is unable to furnish competent workers, the Employer may hire from outside sources, provided that employees so hired shall make application for membership in the Union within fifteen (15) days of their employment. The employees covered by this agreement shall be mem-

Page 358

bers in good standing of the Union and the Employer shall employ no workers other than members of the Union subject to conditions herein above prescribed. In the hiring of new help (for the warehouses), they shall be hired through the offices of the Warehouse Union, Local 1—6, I.L.W.U.'

This contract was entered into in good faith by the parties and served as a foundation for amicable labor relations for over four years. It was of indefinite duration. On July 24, 1945, the C.I.O. and petitioner entered into a supplemental agreement that their contract of July 9, 1941, 'shall remain in full force and effect' pending approval of certain agreed-upon items, other than the closed-shop provision, by the War Labor Board. In the instant proceedings, the closed-shop contract, as extended by the supplemental agreement, was found by the National Labor Relations Board to have been made in compliance with the proviso of § 8(3) of the Act.10

On July 26, 1945, shortly after the making of the supplemental agreement, open agitation for a change of bargaining representative began. On July 31 an unauthorized strike occurred which was participated in by a

Page 359

substantial majority of the employees and lasted two and one-half days, although the C.I.O. had pledged its membership not to strike during war-time. A group of employees formed an independent organization which later sought to affiliate with the A.F. of L. There was much propagandizing among the employees and warnings were issued by the C.I.O. that its members would be disciplined for rival union activity, and would if disciplined be discharged from their jobs under the closed-shop contract with petitioner.

Altogether some 37 employees were suspended and expelled by the C.I.O. for their activities in behalf of the A.F. of L. union during the fight between the two unions for control, and because of their participation in the strike contrary to C.I.O. policy. These suspended and expelled employees were discharged by petitioner, with the advice of counsel, upon demand by the C.I.O. The ground of the demand was that they were no longer 'members in good standing' of the C.I.O. as required by the closed-shop contract. Petitioner knew, as the Board found, that the discharge of these employees was demanded by the C.I.O. because of their rival union activity.

On October 16 the C.I.O. won an election held by the Board to determine the bargaining representative of petitioner's employees, and the open hostilities were substantially concluded.11

Petitioner was charged with violation of § 8(1) and § 8(3) of the Act and found guilty thereof by the Board for having carried out the terms of the closed-shop con-

Page 360

tract at the request of the bargaining representative. The Board ordered petitioner to restore the employees discharged at the request of the C.I.O. to their former positions without loss of seniority and pay. It is this order which the Court of Appeals decreed should be enforced and that is here for review.

There is no question but that the discharges had the effect of interfering with the employees' right, given by § 7 of the Act, to self-organization and to collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing. Nor is there any question but that the discharges had the effect of discriminating, contrary to the prohibition of § 8(3), in the tenure of the employees. It is petitioner's contention that such interference and discrimination are taken out of the category of unfair labor practices where the employees are discharged in good faith, pursuant to an employer's obligations under a valid closed-shop contract entered into in good faith with the authorized representative of the employees, as permitted by the proviso contained in § 8(3) of the Act.12 The Board admits that petitioner's contention is supported by the proviso in § 8(3) but says that a contract of indefinite duration such as the one in the instant case is subject to the doctrine of Rutland Court Owners, Inc., 44 N.L.R.B. 587, 46 N.L.R.B. 1040. In the Rutland Court case the Board determined that an employer is not permitted to discharge employees pursuant to a closed-shop contract, even though the contract is valid under the proviso to § 8(3), when, to the employer's knowledge, the discharge is requested by the union for the purpose of eliminating employees who have sought to change bargaining representatives at a period when it is appropriate for the employees to seek a redetermination of representatives....

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53 practice notes
  • Hanson v. Union Pac. R. Co., No. 33561
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 1, 1955
    ...power, policy making in this regard, is still for Congress. Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co. v. National[160 Neb. 686] Labor Relations Board, 338 U.S. 355, 70 S.Ct. 166, 94 L.Ed. In that regard it has been said: 'Even should we consider the act unwise and prejudicial to both public and private in......
  • The Boeing Company and Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001, 19-CA-090932
    • United States
    • National Labor Relations Board
    • December 14, 2017
    ...Act's goal of achieving industrial peace by promoting stable collective-bargaining relationships”); Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co. v. NLRB, 338 U.S. 355, 362-363 (1949) (“To achieve stability of labor relations was the primary objective of Congress in enacting the National Labor Relations Act.”......
  • Florida Power Light Co v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 641 National Labor Relations Board v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 8212 556, 73 8212 795, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 24, 1974
    ...for us to justify the policy of Congress. It is enough that we find it in the statute.' Col- Page 812 gate-Palmolive Peet Co. v. NLRB, 338 U.S. 355, 363, 70 S.Ct. 166, 171, 94 L.Ed. 161 (1949).22 Congress' solution was essentially one of providing the employer with an option. On the one han......
  • Stolberg v. Caldwell
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 8, 1978
    ...such policy is to be applied by the executive [175 Conn. 604] branch. See Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 338 U.S. 355, 363, 70 S.Ct. 166, 94 L.Ed. 161. It is through the teacher that this state's standards of educational excellence are disseminated. "When......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
53 cases
  • Hanson v. Union Pac. R. Co., No. 33561
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 1, 1955
    ...power, policy making in this regard, is still for Congress. Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co. v. National[160 Neb. 686] Labor Relations Board, 338 U.S. 355, 70 S.Ct. 166, 94 L.Ed. In that regard it has been said: 'Even should we consider the act unwise and prejudicial to both public and private in......
  • The Boeing Company and Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, IFPTE Local 2001, 19-CA-090932
    • United States
    • National Labor Relations Board
    • December 14, 2017
    ...Act's goal of achieving industrial peace by promoting stable collective-bargaining relationships”); Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co. v. NLRB, 338 U.S. 355, 362-363 (1949) (“To achieve stability of labor relations was the primary objective of Congress in enacting the National Labor Relations Act.”......
  • Florida Power Light Co v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 641 National Labor Relations Board v. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 8212 556, 73 8212 795, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 24, 1974
    ...for us to justify the policy of Congress. It is enough that we find it in the statute.' Col- Page 812 gate-Palmolive Peet Co. v. NLRB, 338 U.S. 355, 363, 70 S.Ct. 166, 171, 94 L.Ed. 161 (1949).22 Congress' solution was essentially one of providing the employer with an option. On the one han......
  • Stolberg v. Caldwell
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • August 8, 1978
    ...such policy is to be applied by the executive [175 Conn. 604] branch. See Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 338 U.S. 355, 363, 70 S.Ct. 166, 94 L.Ed. 161. It is through the teacher that this state's standards of educational excellence are disseminated. "When......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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