Medo Photo Supply Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 265

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation321 U.S. 678,64 S.Ct. 830,88 L.Ed. 1007
PartiesMEDO PHOTO SUPPLY CORPORATION v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
Docket NumberNo. 265
Decision Date10 April 1944

321 U.S. 678
64 S.Ct. 830
88 L.Ed. 1007
MEDO PHOTO SUPPLY CORPORATION

v.

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD.

No. 265.
Argued March 2, 1944.
Decided April 10, 1944.

Page 679

Mr. William E. Friedman, of New York City, for petitioner.

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

Mr. Chief Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner recognized a labor union as the bargaining representative of its employees. At their request and upon their statement that they were dissatisfied with the union and would abandon it if their wages were increased, petitioner negotiated with them without the intervention of the union, granted the requested increases in wages and thereafter refused to recognize or bargain with the union. The only questions raised by the petition for certiorari are whether in the circumstances, petitioner's negotiations with its employees, its payment of increased wages, and its refusal to bargain with the union constituted unfair labor practices in violation of § 8(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(1) and (5), 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(1, 5).

Upon complaint of the National Labor Relations Board charging petitioner with unfair labor practices, issued pur-

Page 680

suant to § 10 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 160, 29 U.S.C.A. § 160, the Board found that petitioner had violated § 8(1) and (5) of the Act by interfering with its employees in the exercise of their rights to bargain collectively, guaranteed by § 7 of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 157, 29 U.S.C.A. § 157, and by refusing to bargain with a union representing its employees. The Board entered the usual order directing petitioner to cease the unfair labor practices so found, and requiring it to bargain with the union. 43 N.L.R.B. 989. On the Board's petition to enforce its order, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overruled petitioner's contentions that the union, at the time of the alleged unfair labor practices, no longer represented petitioner's employees for purposes of collective bargaining and directed compliance with the order. 135 F.2d 279. We granted certiorari, 320 U.S. 723, 64 S.Ct. 67, as the case involves questions of importance in the administration of the National Labor Relations Act.

The Board made findings supported by evidence that after eighteen of the twenty-six employees in petitioner's shipping and receiving department, constituting an appropriate bargaining unit, had designated the union as their bargaining agent, petitioner, on June 4th and 5th, 1941, recognized it as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees. The union having proposed a contract providing for an increase of wages for the employees, petitioner agreed to meet the union representatives on June 9, 1941 in order to begin collective bargaining.

Two days before that date, twelve of the employees who were members of the union, waited on petitioner's manager and stated that they and the six other members had no desire to belong to the union if through their own efforts they could obtain wage increases, a list of which they submitted. The manager, at that time, declined to discuss the union, but stated that he would consider the request for age increases with petitioner's president on the latter's return to the office on June 9th, and asked the employees to return on that day.

Page 681

On June 9th, the manager, after a conference with the president, met with a committee of four of the employees who had conferred with him two days before. He advised them that petitioner would grant substantially the requested wage increases. The committee then withdrew to convey this message to the other employees, who thereupon agreed to accept the wage increases. The committee returned to inform the manager of this and that the employees 'felt that they did not need the union, and we would rather stay out'. Later in the day, the committee notified the union representative that the employees no longer desired the union to represent them. At a meeting on the same day with the representatives of the union, at which this committee was present, petitioner's attorney stated that he understood that the union no longer represented a majority of the employees and he declined to negotiate with it unless it were established by an election that it did.

From this, and from evidence which it is unnecessary to detail, the Board concluded, and we accept its findings, that the employees had not revoked their designation of the union as their bargaining agent before the wage increases were promised by petitioner's manager on June 9th; that the increases were induced by negotiations begun with petitioner on June 7th and concluded on June 9th before they had repudiated the union; that petitioner's determination to increase wages was 'occasioned solely by the employees' offer to withdraw from the union if the raises were granted'; and that the employees' defection from the union was induced by petitioner's conduct in dealing directly with the employees.1

Page 682

In sustaining the Board's order the Court of Appeals assumed that as there had been no election or certification of the union as their bargaining representative, the employees were free to revoke their designation of it and to engotiate directly with the employer for an increase in wages, without the intervention of the union. But it thought that if such a proposal came from the employer, it would be a forbidden interference with the collective bargaining process and it concluded that, in view of the difficulties of determining whether in fact such an offer, ostensibly coming from the employees, was induced by the employer, the Board could conclude that the mere acceptance by the employer of the employees' offer was an unfair labor practice. A concurring judge thought that the case was stripped of any intimation of employer control but that the Board's order should be sustained on the ground that it was an unfair labor practice for the employer to bargain with the employees when their revocation of the union's authority was made conditional upon the majority's agreement to abandon collective bargaining altogether, even for an unspecified time.

We think it plain that the findings of the Board do not admit of either of these dispositions of the case. While the negotiations of petitioner with the employees resulted in a wage increase and their abandonment of the union, the negotiations were carried on by certain of the employees purporting to act in behalf of and to represent a majority. Nothing appears which would suggest, as the concurring judge thought, that any of the employees during or as

Page 683

a result of the negotiations had by agreement or otherwise foreclosed themselves from continuing such bargaining through the same or any other representatives whom they might choose. Nor in the circumstances disclosed by the evidence and the Board's findings can we say that it was of any significance whether, as the Court of Appeals thought, the employees' offer to abandon the union originated with them or was inspired by the employer. For in either case, as will presently appear, we think that the negotiations by petitioner for wage increases with any one other than the union, the designated representative of the employees, was an unfair labor practice. We think that the Board's order should have been enforced for the reasons stated by it.

The petition for certiorari does not challenge the Board's findings that the union represented a majority of the employees in petitioner's shipping department, and that they constituted a proper bargaining unit and that petitioner had agreed to bargain with the union. The evidence shows and the Board found that when the employees opened their negotiations with petitioner's manager on June 7th, they had not repudiated the union. On the contrary they made it plain that their proposal for its abandonment was contingent upon petitioner's willingness to give the desired wage increases. The evidence also shows, as the Board found, that the employees did not withdraw their designation of the union as their bargaining representative until after they had voted to accept the wage increases, and that until then, they had held themselves out as union members throughout their negotiations with petitioner and its representatives.

The National Labor Relations Act makes it the duty of the employer to bargain collectively with the chosen representatives of his employees. The obligation being exclusive, see § 9(a) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 159(a), 29 U.S.C.A. § 159(a), it

Page 684

exacts 'the negative duty to treat with no other.' National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin, 301 U.S. 1, 44, 57 S.Ct. 615, 628, 81 L.Ed. 893, 108 A.L.R. 1352; and see Virginian Railway Co. v. System Federation, 300 U.S. 515, 548, 549, 57 S.Ct. 592, 599, 600, 81 L.Ed. 789. Petitioner, by ignoring the union as the employees' exclusive bargaining representative, by negotiating with its employees concerning wages at a time when wage negotiations with the union were pending, and by inducing its employees to abandon the union by promising them higher wages, violated § 8(1) of the Act, which forbids interference with the right of employees to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choice.

That it is a violation of the essential principle of collective bargaining and an infringement of the Act for the employer to disregard the bargaining representative by negotiating with individual employees, whether a majority or a majority, with respect to wages, hours and working conditions was recognized by this Court in J.I. Case Co. v. Labor Board, 321 U.S. 332, 64 S.Ct. 576; cf. Order of Railroad Telegraphers v. Railway Express Agency, Inc., 321 U.S. 342, 64 S.Ct. 582; see also National Licorice Co. v. Labor Board, 309 U.S. 350, 359—361, 60 S.Ct. 569, 575, 576, 84 L.Ed. 799. The statute guarantees to all employees the right to bargain...

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301 practice notes
  • NLRB v. Air Control Products of St. Petersburg, Inc., No. 21017.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 28, 1964
    ...927; NLRB v. A. Sartorius & Co., 2 Cir., 1944, 140 F.2d 203; NLRB v. Medo Photo Supply Corp., 2 Cir., 1943, 135 F.2d 279, aff'd, 1944, 321 U.S. 678, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007; NLRB v. Wilkening Mfg. Co., 3 Cir., 1953, 207 F.2d 98; NLRB v. Southern Bleachery & Print Works, Inc., 4 Cir., 19......
  • Western Addition Community Organization v. NLRB, No. 71-1656.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 29, 1973
    ...procedure for collective bargaining by precluding the employer from bargaining with splinter groups. Medo Photo Corp. v. N. L. R. B., 321 U.S. 678, 685, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007 These objectives of section 9(a) have been effectuated by provisions within the Act which restrict employers' ......
  • Milne Employees Ass'n v. Sun Carriers, No. 89-15837
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • May 4, 1992
    ...requirement that an employer bargain collectively with the designated representative of its employees. Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. NLRB, 321 U.S. 678, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007 (1944). In Medo, the Supreme Court found direct bargaining where the employer disregarded the employees' union by......
  • West Hartford Ed. Ass'n v. Dayson DeCourcy
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 19, 1972
    ...and since this obligation is exclusive, it exacts the negative duty to treat with no other. Medo Photo Supply Corporation v. N.L.R.B., 321 U.S. 678, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007; International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. N.L.R.B., 108 U.S.App.D.C. 68, 280 F.2d 616, aff'd, 366 U.S. 731,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
300 cases
  • NLRB v. Air Control Products of St. Petersburg, Inc., No. 21017.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 28, 1964
    ...927; NLRB v. A. Sartorius & Co., 2 Cir., 1944, 140 F.2d 203; NLRB v. Medo Photo Supply Corp., 2 Cir., 1943, 135 F.2d 279, aff'd, 1944, 321 U.S. 678, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007; NLRB v. Wilkening Mfg. Co., 3 Cir., 1953, 207 F.2d 98; NLRB v. Southern Bleachery & Print Works, Inc., 4 Cir., 19......
  • Western Addition Community Organization v. NLRB, No. 71-1656.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 29, 1973
    ...procedure for collective bargaining by precluding the employer from bargaining with splinter groups. Medo Photo Corp. v. N. L. R. B., 321 U.S. 678, 685, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007 These objectives of section 9(a) have been effectuated by provisions within the Act which restrict employers' ......
  • Milne Employees Ass'n v. Sun Carriers, No. 89-15837
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • May 4, 1992
    ...requirement that an employer bargain collectively with the designated representative of its employees. Medo Photo Supply Corp. v. NLRB, 321 U.S. 678, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007 (1944). In Medo, the Supreme Court found direct bargaining where the employer disregarded the employees' union by......
  • West Hartford Ed. Ass'n v. Dayson DeCourcy
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • April 19, 1972
    ...and since this obligation is exclusive, it exacts the negative duty to treat with no other. Medo Photo Supply Corporation v. N.L.R.B., 321 U.S. 678, 64 S.Ct. 830, 88 L.Ed. 1007; International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union v. N.L.R.B., 108 U.S.App.D.C. 68, 280 F.2d 616, aff'd, 366 U.S. 731,......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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