Radio Officers Union of Commercial Telegraphers Union v. National Labor Relations Board National Labor Relations Board v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs Warehousemen Helpers of America Gaynor News Co v. National Labor Relations Board

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation98 L.Ed. 455,41 A.L.R.2d 621,74 S.Ct. 323,347 U.S. 17
Docket Number6,Nos. 5,7,s. 5
Decision Date01 February 1954

Mr. Emanuel Butter, New York City, for petitioner.

Mr. Bernard Dunau, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

No. 6:

Mr. Bernard Dunau, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. John J. Manning, Boston, Mass., for respondents.

No. 7:

Mr. Julius Kass, New York City, for petitioner.

Mr. Bernard Dunau, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court

The necessity for resolution of conflicting interpretations by Courts of Appeals of § 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 61 Stat. 136, 65 Stat. 601, 29 U.S.C. (Supp. V) § 158(a)(3), 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(a)(3), impelled us to grant certiorari in these three cases. That section provides that 'it shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer * * * by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization: * * *.'1 The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in No. 6 (hereinafter referred to as Teamsters),2 following a decision of the Third Cir- cuit,3 held that express proof that employer discrimination had the effect of encouraging or discouraging employees in their attitute toward union membership is an essential element to establish violation of this section. That holding conflicts with the holdings of the Second Circuit in No. 5 (hereinafter referred to as Radio Officers)4 and No. 7 (hereinafter referred to as Gaynor)5 with which decisions of the First6 and Ninth Circuits7 accord, that such employee encouragement or discouragement may be inferred from the nature of the discrimination. (See Part III, 74 S.Ct. 340, infra.) In reaching its decision in Gaynor, the Second Circuit also rejected the contention, which contention is supported by many decisions of the Courts of Appeals,8 that there can be no violation of § 8(a)(3) unless it is shown by specific evidence that the employer intended his discriminatory action to encourage or discourage union membership. The Second Circuit determined that the employer intended the natural result of his discriminatory action. (See Part II, 74 S.Ct. 337, infra.) Moreover, Radio Officers and Teamsters present conflicting views by Courts of Appeals as to the scope of the phrase 'membership in any labor organization' in § 8(a)(3). The Eighth Circuit restricts this phrase to 'adhesion to membership,' i.e., joining or remaining on a union's membership roster; the Second Circuit, on the other hand, interprets it to include obligations of membership, i.e., being a good union member.9 (See Part I, 74 S.Ct. 335, infra.) Radio Officers also raises subsidiary questions regarding the interrelationship of § 8(a)(3) with § 8(b) (2) of the Act which makes it an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents 'to cause or attempt to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee in violation of subsection (8)(a)(3) * * *.'10 (See Part IV, 74 S.Ct. 342, infra.) These cases were argued last term, and, upon our order, 11 reargued this term. They reached us in the following manner.12

Teamsters. Upon the basis of a charge filed by Frank Boston, a truck driver employed by Byers Transportation Company and a member of Local Union No. 41, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, A.F.L., the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the union alleging violation of §§ 8(b)(1)(A)13 and 8(b)(2) of the National Labor Relations Act by causing the company to discriminate against Boston by reducing his seniority standing because of Boston's delinquency in paying his union dues. A hearing was had before a trial examiner, whose intermediate report was largely adopted by the Board14 with one member dissenting.

The Board found that the union, as exclusive bargaining representative of the teamsters in the company's employ, had in 1949 negotiated a collective-bargaining agreement with the company which governed working conditions on all over-the-road operations of the company.15 This agreement established a seniority system under which the union was to furnish periodically to the company a seniority list and provided that 'any controversy over the seniority standing of any employee on this list shall be referred to the Union for settlement.' Union security provisions of the agreement were not effective due to lack of the authorization then required by § 8(a)(3) of the Act.16 The seniority list therefore included both union members and nonmembers. Each new employee of the company, after a thirty-day trial period, was placed at the bottom of this list, and such employee would gradually advance in position as senior members were either removed from the list or reduced in their position on it. Position upon the seniority list governed the order of truck-driving assignments, the quality of such assignments, and the order of layoff.

The bylaws of Teamsters Local Union No. 41 provided that 'any member, under contract, one month in arrears for dues shall forfeit all seniority rights. * * *'17 A member's dues were payable on the first day of each month, and he was deemed 'in arrears' for any month's dues on the second day of the following month. Boston did not pay his dues for June 1950, until July 5, 1950. When the union transmitted a new seniority list to the company on the following July 15, Boston, who had previously been eighteenth on the list, was reduced to fifty-fourth, the bottom position on the list. As a result of such reduction Boston was denied driving assignments he would otherwise have obtained and for which he would have received compensation.

Upon these facts a majority of the Board found that the union had violated §§ 8(b)(1)(A) and 8(b)(2) of the Act. As to the former, the Board held that the union's reduction of Boston's seniority restrained and coerced him in the exercise of his right to refrain from assisting a labor organization guaranteed by § 7.18 The Board held that, 'absent a valid contractual union security provision, Boston had the absolute protected right under the Act to determine how he would handle his union affairs without risking any impairment of his em- ployment rights and that the Union had no right at any time whether Boston was a member or not a member to make his employment status to any degree conditional upon the payment of dues. * * *' As to the latter, the Board concluded that the union had caused the company to discriminate against Boston and adopted the Trial Examiner's finding that 'the normal effect of the discrimination against Boston was to encourage nonmembers to join the Union, as well as members to retain their good standing in the Union, a potent organization whose assistance is to be sought and whose opposition is to be avoided. The employer's conduct tended to encourage membership in the Union. 19 Its discrimination against Boston had the further effect of enforcing rules prescribed by the Union, thereby strengthening the Union in its control over its members and its dealings with their employers and was thus calculated to encourage all members to retain their membership and good standing either through fear of the consequences of losing membership or seniority privileges or through hope of advantages in staying in. * * *'

The Board entered an order requiring the union to cease and desist from the unfair labor practices found and from related conduct; to notify Boston and the company that the union withdraws its request for the reduction of Boston's seniority and that it requests the company to offer to restore Boston to his former status; to make Boston whole for any losses of pay resulting from the discrimination; and to post appropriate notices of compliance.

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denied the Board's petition to enforce its order.20 The court held that 'the evidence here abundantly supports the finding of the Board that the respondent caused or attempted to cause the employer to discriminate against Boston in regard to 'tenure * * * or condition of employment", but 'discrimination alone is not sufficient' and 'we can find no substantial evidence to support the conclusion that the discrimination * * * did or would encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization'. This conclusion was reached because 'the testimony of Boston * * * shows clearly that this act neither encouraged nor discouraged his adhesion to membership in the respondent union'21 and because, assuming the effect of the discrimination on other employees was relevant, the court found no evidence to support a conclusion that such employees were so encouraged or discouraged. We granted the Board's petition for certiorari.22

Radio Officers. Upon the basis of a charge filed by William Christian Fowler, a member of The Radio Officers' Union of the Commercial Telegraphers Union, A.F.L., the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against the union alleging violation of §§ 8(b)(1)(A) and 8(b)(2) of the Act by causing the A. H. Bull Steamship Company to discriminatorily refuse on two occasions to employ Fowler. No complaint was issued against the company because Fowler filed no charge against it. Following the usual proceedings under the Act, a hearing was had before a trial examiner, whose findings, conclusions, and recommendations with certain additions were adopted by the Board.23

The Board found that at the time the transactions giving rise to this case occurred the union had a collective-bargaining contract with a number of...

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