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National Labor Relations Board v. Local No. 825

decided: April 25, 1969.


Hastie, Chief Judge, and Kalodner, Circuit Judge.

Author: Hastie


This case is before us on a petition of the National Labor Relations Board for enforcement of a cease and desist order based upon the Board's finding that the respondent, Local 825, International Union of Operating Engineers, violated section 8(b)(4)(D) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(b)(4)(D), by coercing White Construction Co., an employer, with the object of compelling White to assign the starting and stopping of an electric welding machine to operating engineers represented by Local 825 rather than to the ironworkers who used the machine and were represented by Ironworkers Local 350. The Board also found that in connection with the same controversy Local 825 had violated section 8(b)(4)(B) of the Act by conduct in the nature of a secondary boycott against other employers in an effort to compel them to cease doing business with White. This conduct also was interdicted by the cease and desist order.

The Board's factual findings relevant to the alleged section 8(b)(4)(D) violation are adequately supported by the record. It appears that White undertook as a subcontractor to construct the reactor building for a projected nuclear power plant. In the course of the job White assigned to its ironworker employees the work of starting and stopping an electric welding machine that they used in welding structural steel. At that time White had no contract with Local 825 though White's work force included two members of that union, an engineer and an oiler who operated a crane.

At this juncture a representative of Local 825 demanded that White employ a member of that Union to push the buttons that started and stopped the welding machine. When White failed to comply and to sign an agreement giving Local 825 jurisdiction that would include electric welding machines, the crane engineer and oiler stopped work for one day. More prolonged work stoppages by the engineers occurred during the ensuing weeks. The Board found the union responsible for these work stoppages and the record fully supports that conclusion.

Both Local 825 and the Ironworker's Union were obligated by contract with the Building Trades Employers' Association to recognize the jurisdiction of the National Joint Board for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes and "to be bound by all decisions and awards" made by that body in exercise of its agreed jurisdiction. Accordingly, the matter of the work claimed by Local 825 in connection with the use of electric welding equipment was referred to the Joint Board. That Board issued an award confirming White's assignment of the work in question to the ironworkers.

Although in its answer to the complaint in this case Local 825 admitted that it was bound, as its contract with the Employer's Association provided, by the award of the Joint Board, it refused to respect the award when it was made. Rather, it persisted in its demand that the disputed work be assigned to operating engineers and in its coercive tactics to enforce that demand. This unfair labor practice proceeding followed.

The union asserts two principal defenses; first, that there was no such claim by the ironworkers to the work in question as would create a jurisdictional dispute; and second, that the present unfair labor practice decision is invalid because it was not preceded by and grounded upon a Board award of the claimed work to a particular craft in a section 10(k) proceeding, 29 U.S.C. § 160(k).

The contention that there were no conflicting claims creating a jurisdictional dispute is without merit. The employer's original assignment of ironworkers to start and stop the electric welding machines they were to use may well have been made routinely without any demand by those employees or their union. However, they did accept this work as an incident of their job. This entire dispute grows out of that work assignment and its acceptance.

More important, the Ironworkers Union and the Union of Operating Engineers were opposing parties in the ensuing proceeding before the Joint Board to determine which craft should perform the work in question. The Ironworkers prevailed, thereby establishing their right to the work under the procedure agreed to by all of the parties. Thereafter, ironworkers performed the work as a matter of established right. And they have not disclaimed that right. In these circumstances, it is specious to argue that the persisting demand of the operating engineers that the work be assigned to them does not create a jurisdictional dispute. Cf. NLRB v. Local 1291, International Longshoremen's Ass'n, 3d Cir. 1966, 368 F.2d 107; NLRB v. Local 25, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, 2d Cir. 1967, 383 F.2d at 449. "The fact that one union has the jobs and holds on to them in a polite, non-belligerent manner while the other union uses the forbidden tactics in an effort to get them, or some of them, does not mean that what Congress regarded as the evils of a jurisdictional dispute are not present." International Brotherhood of Carpenters v. C.J. Montag & Sons, Inc., 9th Cir. 1964, 335 F.2d 216, 221.

The respondent's second contention is that this unfair labor practice proceeding is premature because the Board did not first utilize a proceeding under section 10(k) of the Act to make a decisive award of the work to one craft or the other.*fn1

In most cases a Board award under section 10(k) and a refusal to comply with the finding happens before the hearing that is based on a jurisdictional dispute. NLRB v. Radio and Television Broadcast Engineers, Local 1212 (C.B.S.), 1961, 364 U.S. 573, 81 S. Ct. 330, 5 L. Ed. 2d 302; NLRB v. United Ass'n of Journeymen, 3d Cir. 1957, 242 F.2d 722. However, we agree with the Board that in the circumstances of this case a section 10(k) proceeding was not necessary. That section reads as follows:

"Whenever it is charged that any person has engaged in an unfair labor practice within the meaning of paragraph (4)(D) of Section 8(b), the Board is empowered and directed to hear and determine the dispute out of which such unfair labor practice shall have arisen, unless, within ten days after notice that such charge has been filed, the parties to such dispute submit to the Board satisfactory evidence that they have adjusted, or agreed upon methods for the voluntary adjustment of, the dispute. Upon compliance by the parties to the dispute with the decision of the Board or upon such voluntary adjustment of the dispute, such charge shall be dismissed."

It will be observed that the statute expressly provides for the discontinuance of a section 10(k) proceeding where the parties show that they have "agreed upon methods for the voluntary adjustment of the dispute". The present parties had agreed in advance upon a method of voluntary adjustment and did in fact utilize that method in this case. We cannot believe that Congress intended to require a section 10(k) proceeding after a binding voluntary settlement of a dispute when the legislative scheme provides for the discontinuance of a section 10(k) proceeding if such an adjustment shall occur during its pendency. Wood, Wire and Metal Lathers Union (Acoustical Contractors), 1958, 119 NLRB 1345, cited with approval, Carey v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 1964, 375 U.S. 261, 264 n.4, 11 L. Ed. 2d 320, 84 S. Ct. 401 n. 4. Indeed, in the present circumstances a section 10(k) proceeding would be a pointless formality. For having agreed to the settlement of jurisdictional ...

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