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RADIO OFFICERS' UNION COMMERCIAL TELEGRAPHERS UNION v. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

decided: February 1, 1954.

RADIO OFFICERS' UNION OF THE COMMERCIAL TELEGRAPHERS UNION, AFL
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.*fn*

Warren, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Jackson, Burton, Clark, Minton

Author: Reed

[ 347 U.S. Page 21]

 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), 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: . . . ."*fn1 The Court of Appeals for

[ 347 U.S. Page 22]

     the Eighth Circuit in No. 6 (hereinafter referred to as Teamsters),*fn2 following a decision of the Third Circuit,*fn3

[ 347 U.S. Page 23]

     held that express proof that employer discrimination had the effect of encouraging or discouraging employees in their attitude 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)*fn4 and No. 7 (hereinafter referred to as Gaynor),*fn5 with which decisions of the First*fn6 and Ninth Circuits*fn7 accord, that such employee encouragement or discouragement may be inferred from the nature of the discrimination. (See Part III, p. 48, 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,*fn8 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, p. 42, 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

[ 347 U.S. Page 24]

     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.*fn9 (See Part I, p. 39, 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) . . . ."*fn10 (See Part IV, p. 52, infra.) These cases were argued last term, and, upon our order,*fn11 reargued this term. They reached us in the following manner.*fn12

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

[ 347 U.S. Page 25]

     of §§ 8 (b)(1)(A)*fn13 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 Board*fn14 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.*fn15 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.*fn16 The seniority list therefore included both union members and nonmembers. Each

[ 347 U.S. Page 26]

     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. . . ."*fn17 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.*fn18 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 employment

[ 347 U.S. Page 27]

     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. [*fn19] 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 advantage 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.

[ 347 U.S. Page 28]

     The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denied the Board's petition to enforce its order.*fn20 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"*fn21 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.*fn22

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

[ 347 U.S. Page 29]

     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.*fn23

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 steamship concerns including the Bull Steamship Company covering the employment of radio officers on ships of the contracting companies. Pertinent provisions in this contract are:

"Section 1. The Company agrees when vacancies occur necessitating the employment of Radio Officers, to select such Radio Officers who are members of the Union in good standing, when available, on vessels covered by this Agreement, provided such members are in the opinion of the Company qualified to fill such vacancies."

"Section 6. The Company shall have the right of free selection of all its Radio Officers and when members of the Union are transferred, promoted, or hired the Company agrees to take appropriate measures to assure that such members are in good standing, and the Union agrees to grant all members of the Union in good standing the necessary 'clearance' for the position to which the Radio Officer has been assigned. If a member is not in good standing, the Union will so notify the Company in writing."

The union's contention that this contract provided for a hiring hall under which complete control over selection of radio officers to be hired by any company was given to the union was rejected by the Trial Examiner and by a majority of the Board. Such an agreement would have

[ 347 U.S. Page 30]

     legalized the actions of the union in this case.*fn24 But the Board concluded, primarily from the last sentence of § 6 of the contract, that the contract "was clear on its face and did not provide for any hiring hall arrangement" and that it therefore was not improper for the Trial Examiner to exclude evidence that general, although not universal, practice had been for radio officers to be assigned to employers by the union.

The Board also found that: On February 24, 1948, the company telegraphed an offer of a job as radio officer on the company's ship S. S. Frances to Fowler, who had often previously been employed by the company; Fowler had notified the company that he would accept the job; the company then informed Kozel, the radio officer on the previous voyage of the ship, that he was being replaced by "a man with senior service in the company"; Fowler reported to the Frances without seeking clearance from the union and Kozel reported such action to the union; the union secretary wired Fowler that he had been suspended from membership for "bumping" another member and taking a job without clearance and notified the company that Fowler was not in good standing in the union; the union secretary had no authority to effect such a suspension, the suspension was void and Fowler was in good standing in the union at all times material in this case;*fn25 express requests to the union for clearance

[ 347 U.S. Page 31]

     of Fowler for employment on the Frances by the company and by Fowler were subsequently refused, the union secretary stating that he would never again clear Fowler for a position with that company although Fowler would be cleared for jobs with other employers; unable to obtain clearance for Fowler, the company gave the job to another man supplied by the union, and Fowler returned to his home in Florida; on April 22, 1948, Fowler returned to New York and again advised the company that he was available for work before reporting to the union; the union secretary told Fowler he was being made "a company stiff" and adhered to his position that he would not clear Fowler for work with that company; clearance sought by the company for Fowler for a job on the S. S. Evelyn was subsequently refused, and another man was dispatched to the job by the union.

Upon these facts a majority of the Board found that the union had violated §§ 8 (b)(1)(A) and 8 (b)(2). The Board rejected the union's defense that the union security provision of the contract, preferential hiring for members in good standing, immunized the union's action. They found that Fowler was in good standing at all times notwithstanding his suspension by the union secretary, and that conformity with the union's hiring-hall rules and procedures was not also required by the contract. Thus the Board concluded that the union, by refusing to clear Fowler in both February and April, restrained and coerced Fowler in his statutory right to refrain from observance of the union's rules, and caused the company to discriminate against Fowler by denying him employment.

[ 347 U.S. Page 32]

     The Board adopted the Trial Examiner's finding that "the normal effect of the discrimination against Fowler was to enforce not only his obedience as a member, of such rules as the Respondent might prescribe, but also the obedience of all his fellow members. It thereby strengthened the Respondent both in its control of its members for their general, mutual advantage, and in its dealings with their employers as their representative. It thus encouraged non-members to join it as a strong organization whose favor and help was to be sought and whose opposition was to be avoided. In its effect upon nonmembers alone, it must therefore be regarded as encouraging membership in the Respondent. Finally, by its demonstration of the Respondent's strength, the discrimination in the present case also had the normal effect of encouraging Fowler and other members to retain their membership in the Respondent either through fear of the consequences of dropping out of membership or through hope of advantage 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 Fowler and the company that it withdraws objection to his employment and requests the company to offer him employment as a radio officer; to make Fowler whole for any losses of pay resulting from the discrimination, and to post appropriate notices of compliance.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the Board's findings and conclusions and granted the Board's petition for enforcement of its order.*fn26 The court agreed that the provisions of the contract "plainly give the company the right to select the man it desires to hire, and require the union to grant 'clearance' if the man

[ 347 U.S. Page 33]

     the company wants is a member in good standing," that "such procedure is not a 'hiring hall' arrangement,"*fn27 and that Fowler was in good standing at the time of refusal of clearance. It rejected the union's contention that its refusal to clear was merely a statement of views concerning breach of its rules and as such was within the protection of § 8 (c).*fn28 We agree that, viewing the record as a whole, each of these findings is supported by substantial evidence. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers v. Labor Board, 341 U.S. 694; Universal Camera Corp. v. Labor Board, 340 U.S. 474. As to §§ 8 (b)(2) and 8 (a)(3), the court held that "refusal of clearance caused the company to discriminate against Fowler in regard to hire. Without the necessary clearance it could not accept him as an employee. The result was to encourage membership in the union. No threats or promises to the company were necessary. . . . Whether the union's motive was, as it argues, to enforce the contract provisions against discharging satisfactory radio officers such as Kozel, is immaterial . . . . Such conduct displayed to all non-members the union's power and the strong measure it was prepared to take to protect union members. . . . " The court also held that "a finding that the union has violated § 8 (b)(2) can be made without joining the employer and finding a § 8 (a)(3) violation," and that it was proper to enter a back-pay order against the union without ordering reinstatement by the employer. We granted the union's petition for certiorari.*fn29

[ 347 U.S. Page 34]

     and periodicals, entered into a collective-bargaining agreement respecting delivery-department employees with the union. This agreement provided for specified wages and paid vacations, and also provided for a closed shop, i. e., restricting employment by the company to members of the union. The agreement, however, permitted the employment by the company of nonunion employees pending such time as the union could supply union employees. This provision was necessary because the union was closed, ordinarily admitting to membership only first-born legitimate sons of members. The company at all pertinent times had nonunion as well as union employees in its delivery department. This original agreement was subsequently extended to 1948 and a supplementary agreement was executed by the parties in 1947 providing that in the event the parties negotiated a new contract, the wage rates set therein would be retroactive for three months. In October 1948 the company and the union entered into such a new contract which included an invalid union-security clause*fn32 and provided for increased wage and vacation benefits. In this agreement the company expressly recognized the union as exclusive bargaining agent of all employees in the delivery department. In compliance with the 1947 supplementary agreement, the company in November 1948 made lump-sum payments to its union ...


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