National Labor Relations Board v. Babcock and Wilcox Company National Labor Relations Board v. Seamprufe Ranco v. National Labor Relations Board, Nos. 250

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtREED
Citation351 U.S. 105,100 L.Ed. 975,76 S.Ct. 679
Decision Date30 April 1956
Docket NumberNos. 250,251,422
PartiesNATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner, v. The BABCOCK AND WILCOX COMPANY. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner, v. SEAMPRUFE, Inc. RANCO, Inc. v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

351 U.S. 105
76 S.Ct. 679
100 L.Ed. 975
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner,

v.

The BABCOCK AND WILCOX COMPANY. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner, v. SEAMPRUFE, Inc. RANCO, Inc. v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD.

Nos. 250, 251, 422.
Argued Jan. 25 and 26, 1956.
Decided April 30, 1956.

Page 106

Mr.Dominick L. Manoli, Washington, D.C., for N.L.R.B.

Mr. O. B. Fisher, Paris, Tex., for respondent Babcock & Wilcox Co.

Mr. Karl H. Mueller, Fort Worth, Tex., for respondent Seamprufe, Inc.

Mr. Eugene B. Schwartz, Cleveland, Ohio, for petitioner Ranco, Inc.

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

In each of these cases the employer refused to permit distribution of union literature by nonemployee union organizers on company-owned parking lots. The National Labor Relations Board, in separate and unrelated proceedings, found in each case that it was unreasonably difficult for the union organizer to reach the employees off company property and held that, in refusing the unions access to parking lots, the employers had unreasonably impeded their employees' right to self-organization in violation of § 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(a)(1). Babcock & Wilcox Co., 109 N.L.R.B. 485, 494; Ranco, Inc., id., 998, 1007, and Seamprufe, Inc., id., 24, 32.

The plant involved in No. 250, National Labor Relations Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co., is a company engaged in the manufacture of tubular products such as boilers and accessories, located on a 100-acre tract about one mile from a community of 21,000 people. Approximately 40% of the 500 employees live in that town and the remainder live within a 30-mile radius. More than 90% of them drive to work in private

Page 107

automobiles and park on a company lot that adjoins the fenced in plant area. The parking lot is reached only by a driveway 100 yards long which is entirely on company property excepting for a public right-of-way that extends 31 feet from the metal of the highway to the plant's property. Thus, the only public place in the immediate vicinity of the plant area at which leaflets can be effectively distributed to employees is that place where this driveway crosses the public right-of-way. Because of the traffic conditions at that place the Board found it practically impossible for union organizers to distribute leaflets safely to employees in motors as they enter or leave the lot. The Board noted that the company's policy on such distribution had not discriminated against labor organizations and that other means of communication, such as the mail and telephones, as well as the homes of the workers, were open to the union.1 The employer justified its refusal to allow distribution of literature on company property on the ground that it had maintained a consistent policy of refusing access to all kinds of pamphleteering and that such distribution of leaflets would litter its property.

The Board found that the parking lot and the walkway from it to the gatehouse, where employees punched in for work, were the only 'safe and practicable' places for distribution of union literature. The Board viewed the

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place of work as so much more effective a place for communication of information that it held the employer guilty of an unfair labor practice for refusing limited access to company property to union organizers. It therefore ordered the employer to rescind its no-distibution order for the parking lot and walkway, subject to reasonable and nondiscriminating regulations 'in the interest of plant efficiency and discipline, but not as to deny access to union representatives for the purpose of effecting such distribution.' 109 N.L.R.B., at 486.

The Board petitioned the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for enforcement. That court refused enforcement on the ground the statute did not authorize the Board to impose a servitude on the employer's property where no employee was involved. National Labor Relations Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co., 5 Cir., 222 F.2d 316.

The conditions and circumstances involved in No. 251, National Labor Relations Board v. Seamprufe, Inc., and No. 422, Ranco, Inc., v. National Labor Relations Board, are not materially different, except that Seamprufe involves a plant employing approximately 200 persons and in the Ranco case it appears that union organizers had a better opportunity to pass out literature off company property. The Board likewise ordered these employers to allow union organizers limited access to company lots. The orders were in substantially similar form as that in the Babcock & Wilcox case. Enforcement of the orders was sought in the Courts of Appeals. The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in No. 251, National Labor Relations Board v. Seamprufe, Inc., 222 F.2d 858, 861, refused enforcement on the ground that a nonemployee can justify his presence on company property only 'as it bears a cogent relationship to the exercise of the employees' guaranteed right of self organization.' These 'solicitors were therefore strangers to the right of self-organization, absent a showing of nonaccessibility amounting to a handicap to self-organization.' Id., 222 F.2d at page 861. The Court of Appeals

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for the Sixth Circuit in No. 422 granted enforcement. National Labor Relations Board v. Ranco, Inc., 222 F.2d 543. The per curiam opinion depended upon its decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Monarch Tool Co., 6 Cir., 210 F.2d 183, a case in which only employees were involved; National Labor Relations Board v. Lake Superior Lumber Corp., 6 Cir., 167 F.2d 147, an isolated lumber camp case; and our Republic Aviation Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 324 U.S. 793, 65 S.Ct. 982, 89 L.Ed. 1372. It apparently considered, as held in the Monarch Tool case, supra, 210 F.2d at page 186, that the attitude of the employer in the Ranco case was an 'unreasonable impediment to the freedom of communication essential to the exercise of its employees' rights to self organization.' Because of the conflicting decisions on a recurring phase of enforcement of the National Labor Relations Act, we granted certiorari. 350 U.S. 818, 894, 76 S.Ct. 78, 156.

In each of these cases the Board found that the employer violated § 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 61 Stat. 140, making it an unfair labor practice for an employer to interfere with employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed in § 7 of that Act. The pertinent language of the two sections appears below.2 These holdings were placed on the Labor Board's determination in...

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368 practice notes
  • Breaux v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., AFL-CI
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 29, 1990
    ...82 L.Ed. 831), or the importance of union organizational activities to these rights (cf. Labor Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 105, 113, 76 S.Ct. 679, 685, 100 L.Ed. 975). Both are similarly well-established under the Act. (Lab.Code, §§ 1140.2, 1152, 1153, subd. (a); Agricultu......
  • Walmart Stores, Inc. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l Union, B259926
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 14, 2016
    ...NLRB (2d Cir. 2008) 534 F.3d 108, 115–117 [discussing discrimination claims under Section 7 and Labor Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 105, 76 S.Ct. 679, 100 L.Ed. 975 ; Babcock -type discrimination requires that the “private property owner must treat a nonemployee [union speak......
  • Sam Andrews' Sons v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., AFL-CI
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 17, 1988
    ...Labor Relations Board (NLRB) precedent defining a statutory right of access and embodied in Labor Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 105, 76 S.Ct. 679, 100 L.Ed. 975; (2) the statutory standard under the Babcock & Wilcox rule permitted access to a grower's property where there we......
  • Riesbeck Food Markets, Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local Union 23, No. 19485
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 3, 1991
    ...that in certain circumstances a trespass upon the employer's private property may be protected. In NLRB v. Babcock & Wilcox Co., 351 U.S. 105, 76 S.Ct. 679, 100 L.Ed. 975 (1956), for example, employers refused to permit nonemployee union organizers to distribute union literature on company-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
367 cases
  • Breaux v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., AFL-CI
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 29, 1990
    ...82 L.Ed. 831), or the importance of union organizational activities to these rights (cf. Labor Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 105, 113, 76 S.Ct. 679, 685, 100 L.Ed. 975). Both are similarly well-established under the Act. (Lab.Code, §§ 1140.2, 1152, 1153, subd. (a); Agricultu......
  • Walmart Stores, Inc. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Int'l Union, B259926
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 14, 2016
    ...NLRB (2d Cir. 2008) 534 F.3d 108, 115–117 [discussing discrimination claims under Section 7 and Labor Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 105, 76 S.Ct. 679, 100 L.Ed. 975 ; Babcock -type discrimination requires that the “private property owner must treat a nonemployee [union speak......
  • Sam Andrews' Sons v. Agricultural Labor Relations Bd., AFL-CI
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 17, 1988
    ...Labor Relations Board (NLRB) precedent defining a statutory right of access and embodied in Labor Board v. Babcock & Wilcox Co. (1956) 351 U.S. 105, 76 S.Ct. 679, 100 L.Ed. 975; (2) the statutory standard under the Babcock & Wilcox rule permitted access to a grower's property where there we......
  • Riesbeck Food Markets, Inc. v. United Food and Commercial Workers, Local Union 23, No. 19485
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 3, 1991
    ...that in certain circumstances a trespass upon the employer's private property may be protected. In NLRB v. Babcock & Wilcox Co., 351 U.S. 105, 76 S.Ct. 679, 100 L.Ed. 975 (1956), for example, employers refused to permit nonemployee union organizers to distribute union literature on company-......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 firm's commentaries
1 books & journal articles
  • Capitalist Development, Labor Law, and the New Working Class.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 Nbr. 6, April 2022
    • April 1, 2022
    ...they communicate their opposition to unionization up until a twenty-four hour period before a vote); NLRB v. Babcock & Wilcox Co., 351 U.S. 105, 112-14 (1956) (allowing companies to exclude labor organizers from their property in many instances). See generally NLRB v. Gissel Packing Co.......

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