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LEEDOM ET AL. v. INTERNATIONAL UNION MINE

decided: December 10, 1956.

LEEDOM ET AL., MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
INTERNATIONAL UNION OF MINE, MILL & SMELTER WORKERS



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Burton, Clark, Minton, Harlan, Brennan

Author: Douglas

[ 352 U.S. Page 146]

 MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Section 9 (h) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 61 Stat. 136, 146, 65 Stat. 601, 602, 29 U. S. C. § 159 (h), provides that the Board shall make no investigation nor issue any complaint on behalf of a union unless there is on file with the Board a non-Communist oath of each officer of the union and of each officer of any national or international labor organization of which it is an affiliate or constituent unit.*fn1 Section 9 (h) further provides that "The provisions of section 35 A of the Criminal Code shall be applicable in respect to such affidavits." Section 35 A of the Criminal Code applies a criminal sanction*fn2 to false affidavits filed under § 9 (h). The question in this case is whether criminal prosecution under that provision is the exclusive remedy for the filing of a false affidavit under § 9 (h) or whether the Board may take administrative action and, on a finding that a false affidavit has been filed, enter an order of decompliance,

[ 352 U.S. Page 147]

     withholding from the union in question the benefits of the Act until it is satisfied that the union has complied. The court below held that the criminal sanction was the exclusive remedy for filing the false affidavit. 96 U. S. App. D.C. 416, 226 F.2d 780. That decision is in conflict with a ruling of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Labor Board v. Lannom Mfg. Co., 226 F.2d 194. We granted the petitions for certiorari in each case in order to resolve the conflict. 351 U.S. 949; 351 U.S. 905.

The union involved in the present case is the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers. The union filed a complaint with the Board charging that the Precision Scientific Co. refused to bargain with it in violation of the Act. During the course of the hearing before the Board, the company challenged the veracity of affidavits filed by one Travis, an officer of the union, under § 9 (h). The Board, in accord with its practice,*fn3 refused to allow that issue to be litigated in the unfair labor practice proceeding. But later on, it issued an order directing an administrative investigation and hearing. A hearing was held before an examiner who found, among other things, that the § 9 (h) affidavit filed by Travis in August 1949 was false and that the union membership knew it was false and yet continued to re-elect him as an officer. The Board agreed with the trial examiner, held that the union was not and had not been in compliance with § 9 (h) of the Act, and ordered that the union be accorded no further benefits under the Act until it had complied. Maurice E. Travis, 111 N. L. R. B. 422. The Board, thereafter, dismissed the union's complaint against Precision Scientific Co., an action later vacated pursuant to a stay issued by the court below.

[ 352 U.S. Page 148]

     The instant suit was brought in the District Court by the union, which prayed that the Board's order of decompliance be enjoined. Precision Scientific Co. intervened. The District Court denied a preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals reversed, 96 U. S. App. D.C. 416, 226 F.2d 780, on the authority of its prior decision in Farmer v. International Fur & Leather Workers Union, 95 U. S. App. D.C. 308, 221 F.2d 862. It held that a false affidavit filed under § 9 (h) of the Act gave rise only to a criminal penalty against the guilty union officer and did not in any way alter the union's right to the benefits of the Act, even where its members were aware of the officer's fraud.

We agree with the court below that the Board has no authority to deprive unions of their compliance status under § 9 (h) and that the only remedy for the filing of a false affidavit is the criminal penalty provided in § 35 A of the Criminal Code. We start with a statutory provision that contains only one express sanction, viz., prosecution for making a false statement. No other sections of the Act expressly supplement that one sanction.

The aim of § 9 (h) is clear. It imposes a criminal penalty for filing a false affidavit so as to deter Communist officers from filing at all. The failure to file stands as a barrier to the making of an investigation by the Board and the issuance of any complaint for the benefit of the union in question. The section, therefore, provides an incentive to the members of the union to rid themselves of Communist leadership and elect officers who can file affidavits in order to receive the benefits of the Act. The filing of the required affidavits by the necessary officers is the key that makes available to the union the benefits of the Act.

The Board is under a duty to determine whether a filing has been made by each person specified in § 9 (h), since its power to act ...


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