Joy Silk Mills v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 10433.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtWILBUR K. MILLER, PROCTOR, and WASHINGTON, Circuit
Citation87 US App. DC 360,185 F.2d 732
PartiesJOY SILK MILLS, Inc. v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD.
Decision Date02 November 1950
Docket NumberNo. 10433.

87 US App. DC 360, 185 F.2d 732 (1950)

JOY SILK MILLS, Inc.
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD.

No. 10433.

United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.

Decided November 2, 1950.


185 F.2d 733
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185 F.2d 734
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185 F.2d 735
Mr. Henry J. Fox, Washington, D. C., with whom Mr. James F. Kenney, Washington, D. C., was on the brief, for petitioner

Mr. Bernard Dunau, Attorney, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, D. C., with whom Mr. A. Norman Somers, Assistant General Counsel, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, D. C., was on the brief, for respondent.

Before WILBUR K. MILLER, PROCTOR, and WASHINGTON, Circuit Judges.

185 F.2d 736

WASHINGTON, Circuit Judge.

Joy Silk Mills, Inc., a corporation which operates a textile mill at Hartsville, South Carolina, filed a petition with this court to review and set aside an order of the National Labor Relations Board issued against it on September 13, 1949, pursuant to section 10(c) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended by the Labor-Management Relations Act.1 In its answer to the petition, the Board requested that this court enforce its order. The principal questions presented are whether certain statements to and interrogation of employees by the employer and his supervisory employees constitute coercive activity in violation of section 8(a)(1) of that Act, and whether there is sufficient proof that the employer refused to bargain collectively in violation of section 8 (a) (5) of the Act. We are also asked to decide whether certain questions asked employees by the employer's counsel following a charge of unfair labor practice constituted coercive activity, violating section 8(a)(1), or were privileged, and, finally, whether the Board's order was within its authority.

I.

There is no dispute about the main outlines of the story of events at the mill. For purposes of review in this court, the parties entered into a lengthy stipulation of facts (Jt.App. 152-166), and from this we may derive the following brief summary: Petitioner normally has 50 or 60 employees working in its mill, divided among three shifts. On September 15, 1948, a minor labor dispute took place, and a strike began. Union authorization cards of the United Textile Workers of America were distributed, and by September 16 the majority of the employees had signed cards designating that union as their representative for the purpose of collective bargaining with the petitioner. Thirty-eight out of fifty-two employees signed cards. There was a meeting on September 19 between employees and the employer to discuss conditions for return to work, at which certain grievances were settled and paid vacations were promised. There was no discussion of recess periods, rotation of shifts, wages, or of the union. On September 20 the employees returned to work. On September 24 Jacobs, the union regional director in Atlanta Georgia, telephoned the president of petitioner corporation (Gilbert) concerning recognition of the union. Gilbert also received a telephone call from a representative of the Board, in reference to a consent election, and Gilbert asked that the matter be deferred until he consulted with his attorney. On September 30 a conference was held between Jacobs, Southerland (general manager of petitioner corporation), the corporation's attorney, and a field examiner of the Board, regarding the possibility of a consent election. A cross check of membership cards was suggested, and declined by petitioner. There were tentative arrangements made for a consent election to be held on October 19, which were later confirmed.

The consent election was thus set for October 19. Immediately after the telephone call of September 24 Gilbert had instructed the supervisory employees that they should in no way interfere with the union activities of the other employees. On October 7 he posted a notice informing the employees of their right to vote freely in the forthcoming election. On October 12 a statement prepared by Gilbert was read to all the employees. Southerland and Russell (plant superintendent) were present with Gilbert when the statement was read, but the actual reading was done by Carpenter, who is petitioner's bookkeeper, occupying an office next to those occupied by Gilbert and Southerland. The speech was to the effect that the management did not think unionization would benefit the employees but that they were free to vote as they saw fit. Included in the statement of October 12 was the following: "As soon as equipment for the canteen which has been ordered arrives, you will be given a rest period at the company's expense so that you may eat your

185 F.2d 737
lunches and relax in comfort during the shift." On October 18, the day before the election, two similar speeches were read under similar circumstances, in one of which the employer said that the union was misleading the employees on the question of shift rotation, and indicated that if the majority of the employees wanted rotation the company would put it into effect.2

A day or two before the election Russell and Carpenter discussed the matter of the election and of the union with various employees. They questioned them concerning their views and generally indicated their own dislike for the union, that it was not a good idea to support the union, that job security might be threatened, and that perhaps wage raises and other benefits might not be forthcoming if the union got in.

II.

Such were the preliminaries. The election was held on October 19, and the union lost. It immediately filed a protest as to the conduct of the election. This was sustained by the Board's regional director on January 25, 1949, when he ordered the election set aside and directed another election. On March 3, 1949, the union withdrew its representation petition without prejudice. Charges of unfair labor practice were filed with the Board. A hearing was held before a trial examiner on March 22-23, 1949, followed by an Intermediate Report and Recommended Decision. On September 13, 1949, the Board concluded that certain unfair labor practices had taken place, and announced its Decision and Order.

The Board affirmed the trial examiner's finding that the promises of rest periods and shift rotation included in the statements made on October 12 and October 18, 1948, constituted unfair labor practices in that "the presentation of economic benefits to employees to have them forego collective bargaining is a form of pressure and compulsion no less telling in its effort (sic: effect) on employees because benign. * * *" The findings of the trial examiner that Carpenter was a supervisory employee, and that the activities of Carpenter and Russell constituted coercion, were also affirmed. The Board affirmed the trial examiner's determination that there had been a refusal to bargain, but reversed the finding that it did not occur until October 12, holding that the violation commenced September 24, continuing thereafter.3

The Board ordered petitioner to cease and desist from in any manner "interfering with, restraining, or coercing its employees in the exercise of their right to self-organization, to form labor organizations, to join or assist United Textile Workers of America, A. F. L., or any other labor organizations," and generally from interfering with the employees' right to engage in concerted activities and to bargain collectively through their own representatives. It also ordered petitioner to cease and desist from "refusing to bargain collectively with the United Textile Workers of America, A. F. L., as the exclusive representative of all the production and maintenance employees employed by the Respondent * * *." Affirmatively, petitioner was ordered to "upon request bargain collectively with the United Textile Workers of America" and to post certain notices at the plant.

185 F.2d 738

III.

In bringing this petition to review the order of the Board, petitioner has stipulated, as we have noted, the main outline of the events which transpired. While petitioner does question certain findings which were not stipulated and as to which there is conflicting evidence, its primary challenge is to the ultimate conclusions of fact and law which have been reached by the trial examiner and the Board. It alleges that the evidence does not permit of the interpretation which it was given and is insufficient to support the determination that the petitioner has violated section 8(a) (1) and section 8(a) (5) of the Act.

The Labor-Management Relations Act provides: "The findings of the Board with respect to questions of fact if supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole shall be conclusive." 29 U.S.C.A. § 160(e). The National Labor Relations Act, prior to that amendment, provided that the Board's findings "as to the facts, if supported by evidence, shall be conclusive. * * *" This latter provision had been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that the Board's findings were conclusive only if supported by "substantial evidence," that is, "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Consolidated Edison Co. v. N. L. R. B., 305 U. S. 197, 229, 59 S.Ct. 206, 217, 83 L.Ed. 126; see, also, N. L. R. B. v. Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., 306 U.S. 292, 299-300, 59 S.Ct. 501, 83 L.Ed. 660. The amendment, like its predecessor, does not permit the court to weigh evidence or to substitute its judgment for the Board's as to what conclusions are to be drawn from the evidence.4 Nor does the amendment even go so far as to authorize this court to apply the test which it utilizes in reviewing findings of the District Court — that the findings are conclusive unless "clearly erroneous."5 What the amendment was intended to do was insure that in the fringe or borderline case, where the evidence affords but a tenuous foundation for the Board's findings,...

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194 practice notes
  • Petri Cleaners, Inc. v. Automotive Emp., Laundry Drivers and Helpers Local No. 88, No. 88
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 26, 1960
    ...3 Cir., 203 F.2d 482, certiorari denied 347 U.S. 912, 74 S.Ct. 474, 98 L.Ed. 1068; Joy Silk Mills v. N. L. R. B., 87 U.S.App.D.C. 360, 185 F.2d 732, 740, certiorari denied 341 U.S. 914, 71 S.Ct. 734, 95 L.Ed. 1350); solicitation by management of union withdrawal letters (Texarkana Bus Co. v......
  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America v. NLRB, No. 22501
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • February 2, 1970
    ...of employer interrogation of employees during a labor dispute. Joy Silk Mills v. N. L. R. B., supra, 87 U.S.App.D.C. 360 at 371-372, 185 F.2d 732 at 743-744. In an attempt to strike such a balance, the Board has `established specific safeguards designed to minimize the coercive impact of su......
  • Retail, Wholesale and Department Store U. v. NLRB, No. 24867
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 28, 1972
    ...389 F.2d 104, 106 (8th Cir. 1968) Amco Electric v. NLRB, 358 F.2d 370, 373 (9th Cir. 1966); Joy Silk Mills v. NLRB, 87 U.S.App.D.C. 360, 185 F.2d 732 (1950), cert. denied, 341 U.S. 914, 71 S.Ct. 734, 95 L.Ed. 1350 16 NLRB v. Marcus Trucking Co., 286 F.2d 583 (2d Cir. 1961). See also NLRB v.......
  • United Steelworkers of America v. NLRB, No. 20336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 27, 1967
    ...to say, such a contradictory course generates perpetual discontent and strife." 8 Joy Silk Mills, Inc. v. NLRB, 87 U.S. App.D.C. 360, 369, 185 F.2d 732, 741 (1950), cert. denied, 341 U.S. 914, 71 S.Ct. 734, 95 L.Ed. 1350 (1951); Amalgamated Clothing Workers (Sagamore Shirt Co.) v. NLRB, 124......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
194 cases
  • Petri Cleaners, Inc. v. Automotive Emp., Laundry Drivers and Helpers Local No. 88, No. 88
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • January 26, 1960
    ...3 Cir., 203 F.2d 482, certiorari denied 347 U.S. 912, 74 S.Ct. 474, 98 L.Ed. 1068; Joy Silk Mills v. N. L. R. B., 87 U.S.App.D.C. 360, 185 F.2d 732, 740, certiorari denied 341 U.S. 914, 71 S.Ct. 734, 95 L.Ed. 1350); solicitation by management of union withdrawal letters (Texarkana Bus Co. v......
  • Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America v. NLRB, No. 22501
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • February 2, 1970
    ...of employer interrogation of employees during a labor dispute. Joy Silk Mills v. N. L. R. B., supra, 87 U.S.App.D.C. 360 at 371-372, 185 F.2d 732 at 743-744. In an attempt to strike such a balance, the Board has `established specific safeguards designed to minimize the coercive impact of su......
  • Retail, Wholesale and Department Store U. v. NLRB, No. 24867
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 28, 1972
    ...389 F.2d 104, 106 (8th Cir. 1968) Amco Electric v. NLRB, 358 F.2d 370, 373 (9th Cir. 1966); Joy Silk Mills v. NLRB, 87 U.S.App.D.C. 360, 185 F.2d 732 (1950), cert. denied, 341 U.S. 914, 71 S.Ct. 734, 95 L.Ed. 1350 16 NLRB v. Marcus Trucking Co., 286 F.2d 583 (2d Cir. 1961). See also NLRB v.......
  • United Steelworkers of America v. NLRB, No. 20336
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • December 27, 1967
    ...to say, such a contradictory course generates perpetual discontent and strife." 8 Joy Silk Mills, Inc. v. NLRB, 87 U.S. App.D.C. 360, 369, 185 F.2d 732, 741 (1950), cert. denied, 341 U.S. 914, 71 S.Ct. 734, 95 L.Ed. 1350 (1951); Amalgamated Clothing Workers (Sagamore Shirt Co.) v. NLRB, 124......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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