General Motors Corp., Inc. v. N.L.R.B.

Decision Date02 March 1983
Docket NumberNo. 81-1644,81-1644
Citation700 F.2d 1083
Parties112 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2976, 96 Lab.Cas. P 14,107 GENERAL MOTORS CORP., INC., Petitioner, v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

Roderick D. Gillum, Detroit, Mich., for petitioner.

Elliott Moore, Deputy Associate Gen. Counsel, Catherine Garcia, N.L.R.B., Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Before MARTIN and KRUPANSKY, Circuit Judges, and BROWN, Senior Circuit Judge.

KRUPANSKY, Circuit Judge.

This case is before the Court upon the petition of General Motors Corp., Delco Moraine Division (GM/Company) to set aside a Decision and Order of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), reported at 257 NLRB No. 146, requiring GM to produce its original time study data upon request by Local 696, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (Union). The NLRB has filed a cross-application for enforcement of its Order.

GM is a Delaware corporation engaged in the manufacture and non-retail sale and distribution of automobile products. Since at least 1940 GM and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (International UAW) have been parties to successive company-wide collective bargaining agreements embracing production, maintenance and mechanical employees in GM facilities throughout the United States. These detailed agreements impact upon myriad facets of the employer-employee relationship. Limited concerns, such as seniority, are reserved to local negotiation no provision of any local agreement, however, may supersede or conflict with any provision contained in the National Agreement.

The policy concerning the production standard for determining the number of units required to be produced per shift per department appears in the collective bargaining agreement as follows:

(78) Production standards shall be established on the basis of fairness and equity consistent with the quality of workmanship, efficiency of operations, and the reasonable working capacities of normal operators.

The NLRB asserts, the record supports, and GM does not deny that the following procedure for ascertaining fair and equitable production standards, for the purpose of implementing the policy appearing in Paragraph 78 of the collective bargaining agreement, is currently employed:

In order to arrive at a production standard, the Company conducts timestudies of individual employees performing their tasks and of the operational delays occurring along an entire assembly line. In these studies, timestudy personnel make stop-watch observations and record their findings on worksheets. Among the data thus recorded are the timestudy observer's professional determinations as to which actual delays occurring during a study should be "allowed"--that is, taken into account in establishing a production standard--or "disallowed"--that is, ignored for production standard purposes because, for example, the observer considers the delay to be a non-recurring one.

Following a timestudy, the Company makes calculations from the raw data and records its conclusions on a form entitled "Time Study Elemental Breakdown." The first portion of the form lists the component elements of an employee's production operation and the number of seconds that the timestudy observer determined should be allocated to performing each element. The time judged necessary for producing one unit is derived by adding the times for these separate work elements. The second portion of the form, entitled "Delays", lists the amount of time that the timestudy observer "allowed" to be subtracted from the 8-hour shift due to functions such as clean-up, servicing equipment, or "personal" delays. Delays that occurred during the timestudy but that appear on the original worksheets as "disallowed" delays are not transferred to the Elemental Breakdown form. The third portion of the form divides the net number of minutes per shift (8 hours minus "allowed" delays) by the seconds allocated to producing one unit, thus arriving at the number of units expected to be produced on each shift--the production standard.

The collective bargaining agreement incorporates a grievance procedure through which an employee may challenge GM's production standards. A foreman or "time study man" must provide "all of the facts of the case" which relate to the production standard:

(79) When a dispute arises regarding standards established or changed by the Management, the complaint should be taken up with the foreman. If the dispute is not settled by the foreman or if the complaint is not taken up by the employee with the foreman, the committeeman for that district shall, without regard to the restrictions on his time as provided in Paragraphs (18) and (19a) of the Representation Section shall upon reporting to the foreman of the department involved, examine the job to determine the merits of the complaint. The employe may then file a grievance. The foreman or the time study man will furnish him with all of the facts of the case. If there is still a dispute after the committeeman has completed his examination, he may then re-examine the operation in detail with the foreman or the time study man. The committeeman will, upon request, be given in writing the work elements of the job without undue delay. When available, the cycle time or other pertinent data that is relevant to the dispute will be provided in writing upon request; however, it is mutually recognized that it would be impractical to provide this information during periods of production acceleration. If the matter is not adjusted at this stage, it may be further appealed as provided in the procedure below. If the dispute is settled at any stage of this procedure, the parties to the settlement will, upon request of either party, specify in writing what the elements are that constitute the job as settled including a notation in assembly plants of the then current model mix and line speed and this information will be initialed and dated by the parties.

Both the policy incorporated in Paragraph 78, and the requirement that the Company produce "all of the facts of the case" for the processing of grievances as incorporated in Paragraph 79, attain their genesis from a 1940 collective bargaining agreement and appear in all collective bargaining agreements which have been executed thereafter.

The contractual language "all of the facts of the case", as appearing in Paragraph 79, has twice been interpreted by umpires. In 1947 a grievant challenging GM's production standards sought "Management's broken down time study of the job." Umpire Ralph T. Seward (Seward) concluded:

Under Paragraph 79, the foreman or the time study man is required to furnish the Committeeman who is conducting such an investigation with "all of the facts of the case." The facts may properly include not only the over-all standard time for the job but the broken down figures upon which that over-all time was based.

Although this conclusion resolved the narrow issue of contractual interpretation before the umpire, an additional observation was tendered:

That does not mean, of course, that Management is required to turn over to the Committeeman the original work sheets used by the Time Study Department in making the study and setting the standard. But it is clearly required to furnish all relevant information from such work sheets which the Committeeman requests.

Since Seward's conclusion that the original work sheets were beyond the scope of discovery addressed an issue of contractual interpretation which was not presented by the grievant, such can at best be construed as dictum.

The second and last umpire decision interpreting "all of the facts of the case" as employed in Paragraph 79 issued in 1949 by Umpire Gabriel Alexander (Alexander). The grievant had been reprimanded for curtailing production. Unsatisfied with the "broken down time" for his job, grievant submitted and requested a response to twenty written questions. 1 Umpire Alexander concluded that the answers to said twenty questions were among the "facts of the case" and ordered GM to provide answers to the extent possible with information in its possession. The memorandum opinion observed:

It by no means follows that Management is obligated to revise its methods of time study so as to coincide with the Union's theories on the subject, or to make special investigations or compilations so as to be ready at all times to answer any question promulgated by a Committeeman. Its obligation under Paragraph 79 is fulfilled upon disclosure of all facts actually in its possession. In essence, the principle of Paragraph 79 in this respect is no different from the well known principle of responsible collective bargaining on any subject. That is, that each party should fairly disclose all the facts in its possession and that neither participant should take advantage of the unawareness of the other.

In July 1979, GM established a production standard of 8960 units per shift on its Department 531 X-Car Acme operation (Acme job). The Union filed a grievance protesting this standard and requested access to the original time study sheets utilized by GM to set the new production standard. The Company refused this and all subsequent Union requests to examine original time studies for the Acme job. During an April 1980 meeting concerning the Acme job grievance, the Union inquired whether the Company had included an allowance for damaged pieces, or "scrap", in promulgating the production standard. Company negotiators thereupon recessed, examined the original time study, returned and informed the Union that an appropriate scrap allowance had been incorporated. GM refused the Union's request to independently review the figures. In May 1980, GM and the Union resolved the July 1979 Acme job grievance by negotiating a new production standard...

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