Franks Bros Co v. National Labor Relations Board

Citation64 S.Ct. 817,88 L.Ed. 1020,321 U.S. 702
Decision Date10 April 1944
Docket NumberNo. 521,521
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Mr. Benjamin E. Gordon, of Boston, Mass., for petitioner.

Mr. Alvin J. Rockwell, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

The single question presented is whether the National Labor Relations Board acted within its statutory authority in ordering petitioner to bargain collectively with a union which had lost its majority after petitioner wrongfully had refused to bargain with it.

In June 1941 forty-five of the eighty production and maintenance employees in petitioner's clothing factory designated the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America as their bargaining representative. Attempts of the Union to negotiate with petitioner proved unsuccessful because of the latter's refusal to bargain, and the Union filed with the Board a petition for an investigation and certification of representatives. A consent election was scheduled for July 25, and notices posted. Before the election was held, petitioner conducted an aggressive campaign against the Union, even to the extent of threatening to close its factory if the Union won the election. Thereupon the Union withdrew its petition for an election, and filed charges with the Board alleging that petitioner had engaged in unfair labor practices.

In the following months various conferences were held and correspondence exchanged between petitioner and the Board in an unsuccessful effort to persuade the petitioner to cease opposition to the Union. Finally on March 2, 1942, the Board issued a complaint against petitioner. Hearings on the complaint were conducted at length, and in October 1942 a final order was entered. The finding of the Board, not here challenged, was that the foregoing conduct of petitioner, together with related conduct unnecessary to be detailed, constituted unfair labor practices within the meaning of Section 8(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 449, 452, 453, 29 U.S.C. § 158(1) and (5), 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(1, 5).

In reaching its conclusion as to the appropriate remedy for these unfair practices, the Board considered petitioner's contention that during the seven month interval between the filing of the charges and the issuance of the complaint, thirteen of the Union's original members had been replaced by new employees in the normal course of business. This left the Union with only thirty-two of the eighty-five employees then in the unit which it represented, or less than a majority. But the Board found that the Union's lack of a majority was 'not determinative of the remedy to be ordered.' Citing many of its previous decisions involving similar situations, the Board concluded that 'the only means by which a refusal to bargain can be remedied is an affirmative order requiring the employer to bargain with the Union which represented a majority at the time the unfair labor practice was committed.' 44 N.L.R.B. 898, 917. Accordingly, because it deemed such a provision 'necessary to effectuate the policies of the Act', the Board included in its order a requirement that petitioner bargain collectively with the Union. The Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Board, and directed enforcement of the order. 137 F.2d 989. To consider an alleged inconsistency between the Circuit Court's decision and our decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Fansteel Metallurgical Corp., 306 U.S. 240, 261, 262, 59 S.Ct. 490, 498, 83 L.Ed. 627, 123 A.L.R. 599, we brought the case here for review. 320 U.S. 734, 64 S.Ct. 436.

We think the decision of the Circuit Court correct under the Act and consistent with past decisions of this Court. Little need be added to what has been said on this subject in other cases. Out of its wide experience, the Board many times has expressed the view that the unlawful refusal of an employer to bargain collectively with its employees' chosen representatives disrupts the employees' morale, deters their organizational activities, and discourages their membership in unions. The Board's study of this problem has led it to conclude that, for these reasons, a requirement that union membership be kept intact during delays incident to hearings would result in permitting employers to profit from their own wrongful refusal to bargain. See, e.g., Matter of Inland Steel Co., 9 N.L.R.B. 783, 815, 816; Matter of P. Lorillard Company, 16 N.L.R.B. 684, 699—701. One of the chief responsibilities of the Board is to direct such action as will dissipate the unwholesome effects of violations of the Act. See 29 U.S.C. § 160(a) and (c) 29 U.S.C.A. § 160(a, c). And, 'It is for the Board not the courts to determine how the effect of prior unfair labor practices may be expunged.' International Association of Machinists v. National Labor Relations Board, 311 U.S. 72, 82, 61 S.Ct. 83, 89, 85 L.Ed. 50.

That determination the Board has made in this case and in similar cases by adopting a form of remedy which requires that an employer bargain exclusively with the particular union which represented a majority of the...

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