Republic Steel Corporation v. NATIONAL LABOR R. BD.

Decision Date08 November 1939
Docket NumberNo. 6907.,6907.
Citation107 F.2d 472
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit


Luther Day and Thomas F. Patton, both of Cleveland, Ohio, Mortimer S. Gordon, of New York City, and Joseph W. Henderson, of Philadelphia, Pa. (Jones, Day, Cockley & Reavis, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Rawle & Henderson, of Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for Republic Steel Corporation.

Frank T. Bow, of Canton, Ohio (Harvey F. Ake and John P. Walsh, both of Canton, Ohio, on the brief), for Central Council of Steel Plants.

Robert B. Watts, Associate Gen. Counsel, of Washington, D. C. (Charles Fahy, Gen. Counsel, and Ruth Weyand, Atty., both of Washington, D. C., on the brief), for National Labor Relations Board.

Lee Pressman, of Washington, D. C. (Joseph Kovner and Anthony Wayne Smith, both of Washington, D. C., on the brief), for Steel Workers Organizing Committee.

Before BIGGS, MARIS, and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

MARIS, Circuit Judge.

Upon a complaint based upon charges filed by the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (hereinafter called S. W. O. C.), a labor union organization affiliated with the Committee for Industrial Organization, the National Labor Relations Board found the Republic Steel Corporation (hereinafter called Republic) guilty of unfair labor practices and ordered it to cease and desist from them and to take certain affirmative action which the Board found would effectuate the policies of the National Labor Relations Act. Republic thereupon petitioned this court to review and set aside the order as contrary to law.

Republic is a large manufacturer of steel, having plants at Youngstown, Canton, Massillon, Warren and Cleveland, Ohio, among other places. In June, 1936, S. W. O. C. began a campaign to organize Republic's employees. Three years before, in June, 1933, Republic had introduced into each of its plants a plan of employee representation. These plans, company imposed and dominated ones, were doubtless a concession to the mandate of Sec. 7 (a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, 48 Stat. 198, "That employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing. * * *" At least the record of Republic would indicate that this modest concession to the right of collective bargaining was not wholly voluntary.

Almost immediately after S. W. O. C. commenced its organization campaign Republic in its turn began a counter campaign to crush the union. It announced to all its employees at once that "Republic stands for the `Open Shop' principle," that "No employee has to join any organization to get or hold a job," and that "Every Republic employee owes a duty of loyalty to the Company so that its best interests may be served. Conduct detrimental to the interests of the Company and which may disrupt the satisfactory relations between employees and management will not be tolerated." The union was denounced and vilified. From the beginning the organizers of the union were followed and spied upon by Republic's company police. The latter also maintained surveillance over union meetings, thus discouraging employee attendance. Employees were threatened with discharge if they accepted union literature outside the plant gates. Union organizers were attacked and brutally beaten.

When in March, 1937, the employee representatives under the representation plans then in effect in Republic's plants proposed to amend them so as to eliminate company domination and provide for real collective bargaining Republic refused its consent. On the other hand it caused many of the employee representatives to spread anti-union propaganda and to campaign actively against the union in its plants. On March 17, 1937, the United States Steel Corporation and its subsidiaries signed a union contract with S. W. O. C. as the representative of its members who were employees of those companies. The next day Republic called a meeting of the central council of its employee representatives at which a motion was unanimously adopted that all the representatives back the management in opposition to all outside labor organizations.

Employees were coerced by foremen and representatives to sign petitions supporting the representation plans and opposing S. W. O. C. Meetings of employees were held by the management at which the virtues of the representation plans were praised; employees were threatened with discharge if they joined the "outside" union, and anti-union literature was distributed. At least 18 employees, Cikah, Arias, Popik, Pirichy, Troyanovich, Naletrich, Korecky, Exall, Petak, Babich, Neuman, Ugranovich, Armeli, White, Fagan, Wright, Shaban and Mouyios, were discharged because of their activity in behalf of the S. W. O. C.

On March 30, 1937, Golden, regional director of S. W. O. C., requested a conference with Girdler, chairman of the board of Republic, and submitted a proposed union contract containing provisions respecting wages, hours, vacations, seniority and methods of handling grievances substantially equivalent to those then in force in Republic's mills. It also contained the following provisions:

"Section 2. Recognition. — The Corporation recognizes the Union as the collective bargaining agency for those employees of the Corporation who are members of the Union. The Corporation recognizes and will not interfere with the right of its employees to become members of the Union. There shall be no discrimination, interference, restraint or coercion by the Corporation or any of its agents against any members because of membership in the Union. * * *

"Section 8. Management. — The management of the works and the direction of the working forces, including the right to hire, suspend or discharge for proper cause, or transfer, and the right to relieve employees from duty because of lack of work, or for other legitimate reasons, is vested exclusively in the Corporation: Provided, that this will not be used for purposes of discrimination against any member of the Union.

"Section 9. Discharge cases. — In the event a member of the Union shall be discharged from his employment from and after the date hereof, and he believes he has been unjustly dealt with, such discharge shall constitute a case arising under the method of adjusting grievances herein provided. In the event it should be decided under the rules of this Agreement that an injustice has been dealt the employee with regard to the discharge, the Corporation shall reinstate such employee and pay full compensation at the employee's regular rate for the time lost. All such cases of discharge shall be taken up and disposed of within five (5) days from the date of discharge."

No reply to the request for a conference was made until May 5th, when Republic's director of industrial relations wired "In view of Wagner Act see no necessity for signed contract" and suggested May 11th for a conference. A conference was held on that day without result, whereupon Republic issued a statement to its employees that it adhered to its policy not to sign a contract with the C. I. O. At about the same time Republic shut down its Canton tin plate mill, a stronghold of the union, and nearly all the mills of its Massillon works, and locked out all but the maintenance employees. These lockouts, coming after a long period of continual drastic anti-union measures, placed the union in a position where it could not hope to preserve itself without immediate resort to action. Accordingly on May 25th and 26th the union employees of Republic's Canton, Massillon, Youngstown, Warren and Cleveland plants went on strike.

The strike resulted in the closing of all of these plants and they remained closed for more than a month. Upon their reopening toward the end of June a great many of Republic's employees were refused reinstatement because of their union membership. Among these were Green, Hite, Lazer, Krill, Chismus, Haren, Neverdusky and DeLong. From the time the strike began Republic undertook to secure and did secure the aid of local police officials to break picket lines, enlisted workers in back-to-work movements and in other ways endeavored to defeat the strike by reopening its plants without any concessions to the union. By threats to remove its plants Republic succeeded in causing municipal authorities and business men to turn against the union. Violence and hysteria were incited deliberately by Republic in order to terrorize union members. Tear gas and fire arms were donated to the police department of Massillon.

This course of conduct had its tragic result on the evening of July 11th in Massillon. The city police had been augmented by a number of specially deputized Republic foremen and other employees. On this evening the chief of police was absent. In his absence command of the police was taken by one Curley, who had come to the force with the hearty recommendation of Republic's district manager. Under Curley's leadership the augmented force made an unprovoked attack on an unarmed crowd of strikers at their headquarters, killing three of them and wounding many others. During the shooting, which continued for half an hour, none of the policemen received any sort of injury. Immediately after it was over one of the special policemen who was a Republic foreman led a group of his fellows in a round-up in which all persons in the neighborhood of union headquarters were arrested without warrants. These policemen in the early hours of the morning broke into rooming houses occupied by union members, dragged men from their beds and hauled them to jail where they were kept for several days.

Meanwhile on April 21, 1937, the Supreme Court had upheld the constitutionality of the National Labor Relations Act. Republic...

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