National Labor Relations Board v. COLUMBIAN E. & S. CO., No. 6324.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtEVANS, SPARKS, and TREANOR, Circuit
Citation96 F.2d 948
Docket NumberNo. 6324.
Decision Date28 April 1938
PartiesNATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. COLUMBIAN ENAMELING & STAMPING CO., Inc.

96 F.2d 948 (1938)

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
COLUMBIAN ENAMELING & STAMPING CO., Inc.

No. 6324.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

April 28, 1938.


Charles Fahy, Gen. Counsel, National Labor Relations Board, Robert B. Watts, Associate Gen. Counsel, Thomas I. Emerson, Laurence A. Knapp, and Owsley Vose, all of Washington, D. C., for petitioner.

Earl F. Reed, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Otto A. Jaburek, of Chicago, Ill., and C. M. Thorp, Jr., John E. Laughlin, Jr., Charles C. Hewitt, and Thorp, Bostwick, Reed & Armstrong, all of Pittsburgh, Pa., for respondent.

Paul R. Shafer, of Terre Haute, Ind., for interveners.

Before EVANS, SPARKS, and TREANOR, Circuit Judges.

EVANS, Circuit Judge.

Petitioner seeks the enforcement of an order of the National Labor Relations Board directing the respondent company to reinstate employees, who had theretofore gone on a strike and had been replaced by other employees. The order1 of the Board was predicated on a finding that the company had been guilty of unfair labor practices;

96 F.2d 949
namely, refusal to bargain with the union which represented a majority of its employees

The employees who had been hired to replace the strikers have intervened and appear separately.

The conflict between the company and the union has been protracted and bitter. It covers several issues. We find it necessary to state the facts somewhat in detail to give a thorough understanding of the case.

The Facts: The Columbian Enameling and Stamping Company, an Indiana corporation, located at Terre Haute, Indiana, manufactures and sells enamelware. It employed about 600 persons, 500 of whom were production and maintenance employees who were eligible to membership in the Enameling and Stamping Mill Employees Union, No. 19694. About 485 of the 500 eligible employees belonged to the union. The strike began March 22, 1935; the National Labor Relations Act became effective, July 5, 1935; and the specific day on which the company is alleged to have refused to bargain is July 23, 1935. The labor agreement between respondent and its employees ran for a year and expired July 14, 1935. Because of the importance of the chronological presentation of the successive steps in this conflict, we set them forth in detail.2

96 F.2d 950
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
96 F.2d 951

The issues of law are:

(1) The constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.3

(2) Whether there is evidence to support the Board's finding of unfair labor practices, and if so whether interstate commerce, if found to exist, is thereby burdened.

(3) Whether the Board's order is valid. If so, whether it can be enforced to the detriment of the intervenors, present employees.

 CONTENTIONS AND COUNTER-CONTENTIONS
                 Respondent's Contentions. Petitioner's Contentions
                 1) The act is unconstitutional. 1) The act has been held constitutional (National
                 Labor Relations Bd. v. Jones &amp
                 Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 57 S.Ct.
                 615, 81 L.Ed. 893, 108 A.L.R. 1352, and
                 other cases.)
                 2) Interstate commerce is not involved because 2) Majority of raw material used in the manufacture
                 both raw materials and finished comes from 20 states; and 85%
                 products remain at rest in the Company's of manufactured product is shipped to 47
                 place for several months before and after states; three interstate railroads and
                 interstate shipment and therefore the continuity eight interstate truckers are used.
                 in interstate commerce shipment is broken.
                

 
96 F.2d 952
Respondent's Contentions. Petitioner's Contentions. 3) Further conferences would have been useless 3) Union was demanding other things than because all that union was demanding closed shop, such as 2 hour pay when machinery was a closed shop, and company would broke down. Union was asking not so operate. for the conferences, which was indicative of fact that they were in conciliatory mood. 4) The act was passed after the strike and 4) The act is applicable, and need not be therefore is inapplicable; furthermore, retroactively construed to be here applicable the strike was an illegal one because there because the refusal to meet and confer was an arbitration agreement, and being occurred on July 22 and thereafter, an illegal strike or strike in violation of after the passage of the act, and the company wage and employment agreement, the relationship had refused to arbitrate, and the of employer and employee had arbitration agreement only provided that been terminated. The arbitration contract there should be no strike while a matter provided that there should be no was pending before the Committee of Arbitration. strikes. A strike does not terminate the employer-employee relationship (Citing the Michaelson Case, Michaelson v. U. S. ex rel. Chicago, St. P., M. & O. R. Co., 7 Cir., 291 F. 940). The National Labor Act has been held applicable in two cases where the strike occurred prior to its passage. Jeffery-DeWitt Insulator Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 4 Cir., 91 F.2d 134, 139, 112 A.L.R. 948, cer. denied, Oct. 18, 58 S.Ct. 55, 82 L. Ed. ___; Carlisle Lumber Co. Case, National Labor Rel. Board v. Carlisle Lumber Co., 9 Cir., 94 F.2d 138, now pending on application for certiorari in Supreme Court, filed Mar. 30.

Subsequent to the argument of this case the Supreme Court announced decisions in the following cases4 which have narrowed the issues through the final determination of what previously were controverted legal questions.

It may be and is assumed for the purposes of this case that the National Labor Relations Act is an authorized exercise of power by Congress and is valid, and that one out on strike does not thereby ordinarily interrupt the employer-employee relation previously existing. In other words, the status of the employee, as such, is not broken by the strike. (Some of the authorities so holding, including those of this court, are collected in the margin.5)

We accept without discussion, as it seems clear under the recent decisions of the Supreme Court, petitioner's view that respondent is engaged in interstate commerce.6

It may also be assumed that ordinarily the status of employer-employee exists although the strike occurred before the passage of the National Labor Relations Act and continued after its passage.

These conclusions, however, do not meet or solve our question. We have a case where the parties (the employer and employees) bound themselves by a written agreement on the subject:

"In any case in which a satisfactory settlement of a dispute arising under this contract cannot be reached, such dispute shall be referred to a committee of arbitration composed of two persons selected by

96 F.2d 953
the Management, two persons selected by the Union, and fifth person to be selected by these four, who shall reach a decision which shall be final and binding upon both parties to this contract. There shall be no stoppage of work by either party to this contract, pending decision by the Committee of Arbitration."

It is in view of this agreement of the parties that our question arises.

What is the status of a group of employees who in the face of such a definite agreement left their employment? Is the doctrine of estoppel not applicable to parties to such an agreement? Is the maxim of equity that one who comes into a court of equity must come with clean hands, not applicable?

No foundation more secure and reassuring or more protective of the rights of both labor and capital can be found than that reasonable contracts, not violative of public policy, should be respected by the parties who pledged their words and their integrity to abide by their terms. We grope only in darkness and trek further into the wilderness of confusion and lost landmarks if we lose sight of this beacon light. Progress lies only in respect for one's agreement. Respect for and support of the cause of labor follows labor's respect for its contract. The same Bill of Rights which through one section gives just protection to labor, through another section protects the just rights of others. Overriding one will result in the overthrow of the entire Bill of Rights.

In applying these observations to the instant case it is important to keep in mind the limitations which we have imposed. Only reasonable agreements are specified. Not violative of any rule of statute or public policy is another necessity. These are all important limitations to be observed and for several good reasons.

We are not blind to the fact that the purpose of governmental activity in labor matters is to treat all as nearly equally as is possible under existing conditions; that in dealings between employer and employee the former may hold the whip hand to the great disadvantage of the latter when the employees are numerous and unable to act collectively; hence collective bargaining is authorized. Nor can we fail to observe that where large groups, veritable armies in size, are collectively acting, there is possible danger lurking in the result of mass drives. Intolerance of the rights of others may result.

As so often occurs, parties deeply interested, and prejudiced by their interests, and seeing red, suffer from the delusion that numerical strength measures right; that so many, sincerely convinced of the merits of their cause, cannot be wrong. Alas, such an attitude is but another phase of the erroneous philosophy that might makes right. As the major premise of any syllogism, it leads only to erroneous conclusions and catastrophic results.

When the state or nation speaks through legislation which the Supreme Court approves as valid, we must accept it as an expression of public policy which we are to enforce willingly and in the spirit of its enactment. The National Labor Relations Act is such legislation. It was enacted after the strikers had withdrawn their services. In other words, at the time they went on strike there was in force no National Labor...

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9 practice notes
  • Boeing Airplane Co. v. Aeronautical Industrial Dist., Civ. No. 1991.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • June 12, 1950
    ...and to insure peaceful industrial relations. In National Labor Relations Board v. Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., Inc., 7 Cir., 96 F.2d 948, 953 affirmed 306 U.S. 292, 59 S.Ct. 501, 83 L.Ed. 660, the court said 96 F.2d at 953: "No foundation more secure and reassuring or more protective......
  • Hack v. American Surety Co. of New York, No. 6260.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 1, 1938
    ...as the representative of a party and a statement by counsel that the court made admissions is incorrect and carries imputations which 96 F.2d 948 we naturally resent. A reading of the opinion will show that the court attempted to state facts and arguments which supported the plaintiff's pos......
  • National Labor Relations Bd. v. Carlisle Lumber Co., No. 8361.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 15, 1938
    ...Congress, p. 16. I am unable to follow a contrary holding in National Labor Relations Board v. Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., 7 Cir., 96 F.2d 948, 953. As an illustration of the foregoing it seems to me that had the act provided specifically for the imposition of a direct penalty by wa......
  • Beaunit Mills, Inc. v. Board of Review, Division of Employment Sec., Dept. of Labor and Industry, Nos. A--658
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • December 28, 1956
    ...of the causes of industrial strife. N.L.R.B. v. Highland Park Mfg. Co., 110 F.2d 632 (4 Cir., 1940); N.L.R.B. v. Columbian E. & S. Co., 96 F.2d 948, 953 (7 Cir., 1938), affirmed 306 U.S. 292, 59 S.Ct. 501, 83 L.Ed. 660 These basic concepts as well as such legislative restrictions on the rig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Boeing Airplane Co. v. Aeronautical Industrial Dist., Civ. No. 1991.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • June 12, 1950
    ...and to insure peaceful industrial relations. In National Labor Relations Board v. Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., Inc., 7 Cir., 96 F.2d 948, 953 affirmed 306 U.S. 292, 59 S.Ct. 501, 83 L.Ed. 660, the court said 96 F.2d at 953: "No foundation more secure and reassuring or more protective......
  • Hack v. American Surety Co. of New York, No. 6260.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 1, 1938
    ...as the representative of a party and a statement by counsel that the court made admissions is incorrect and carries imputations which 96 F.2d 948 we naturally resent. A reading of the opinion will show that the court attempted to state facts and arguments which supported the plaintiff's pos......
  • National Labor Relations Bd. v. Carlisle Lumber Co., No. 8361.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • October 15, 1938
    ...Congress, p. 16. I am unable to follow a contrary holding in National Labor Relations Board v. Columbian Enameling & Stamping Co., 7 Cir., 96 F.2d 948, 953. As an illustration of the foregoing it seems to me that had the act provided specifically for the imposition of a direct penalty by wa......
  • Beaunit Mills, Inc. v. Board of Review, Division of Employment Sec., Dept. of Labor and Industry, Nos. A--658
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • December 28, 1956
    ...of the causes of industrial strife. N.L.R.B. v. Highland Park Mfg. Co., 110 F.2d 632 (4 Cir., 1940); N.L.R.B. v. Columbian E. & S. Co., 96 F.2d 948, 953 (7 Cir., 1938), affirmed 306 U.S. 292, 59 S.Ct. 501, 83 L.Ed. 660 These basic concepts as well as such legislative restrictions on the rig......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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