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decided: May 14, 1979.



White, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Burger, C. J., and Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Powell, Rehnquist, and Stevens, JJ., joined. Powell, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 503. Blackmun, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 504.

Author: White

[ 441 U.S. Page 490]

 MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The principal question*fn1 in this case is whether prices for in-plant cafeteria and vending machine food and beverages are "terms and conditions of employment" subject to mandatory collective bargaining under §§ 8 (a)(5) and 8 (d) of the National Labor Relations Act. 49 Stat. 452, as amended, 29 U. S. C. §§ 158 (a)(5) and 158 (d).*fn2

[ 441 U.S. Page 491]


Petitioner, Ford Motor Co., operates an automotive parts stamping plant in Chicago Heights, Ill., employing 3,600 hourly rated production employees. These employees are represented in collective bargaining with Ford by the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, and by its administrative component, Local 588, a respondent here.

For many years, Ford has undertaken to provide in-plant food services to its Chicago Heights employees.*fn3 These services, which include both cafeterias and vending machines, are managed by an independent caterer, ARA Services, Inc.

[ 441 U.S. Page 492]

     Under its contract with Ford, ARA furnishes the food, management, machines, and personnel in exchange for reimbursement of all direct costs and a 9% surcharge on net receipts.*fn4 Ford has the right to review and approve the quality, quantity, and price of the food served.

Over the years, Ford and the Union have negotiated about food services. The National Labor Relations Board (Board) found:

"Since 1967, the local contract has included provisions dealing with vending and cafeteria services. The contracts have covered the staffing of service lines, adequate cafeteria supervision, restocking and repairing vending machines, and menu variety. The 1974 local agreement also states, 'the Company recognized its continuing responsibility for the satisfactory performance of the caterer and for the expeditious handling of complaints concerned with such performance.' " Ford Motor Co. (Chicago Stamping Plant), 230 N.L.R.B. 716 (1977), enf'd, 571 F.2d 993 (CA7 1978).

Ford, however, has always refused to bargain about the prices of food and beverages served in its in-plant facilities.

On February 6, 1976, Ford notified the Union that cafeteria and vending machine prices would be increased shortly by unspecified amounts. The Union requested bargaining over both price and services and also asked for information relevant to Ford's involvement in food services in order to assist bargaining. These requests were refused by Ford, which took the position that food prices and services are not terms or conditions of employment subject to mandatory bargaining.

[ 441 U.S. Page 493]

     The Union then filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Board, alleging a refusal to bargain contrary to § 8 (a)(5).*fn5 The Board sustained the charge, ordering Ford to bargain on both food prices and services and to supply the Union with the relevant information requested. Ford Motor Co. (Chicago Stamping Plant), supra. In doing so, the Board reaffirmed its position, expressed in several prior cases, that prices of in-plant-supplied food and beverages are generally mandatory bargaining subjects, a position that had not been accepted by reviewing courts.*fn6 The Board also noted that the circumstances of this case made it a particularly strong one for invoking the duty to bargain.*fn7

[ 441 U.S. Page 494]

     The case came before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Ford's petition for review and the Board's cross-petition for enforcement. That court, while adhering to its prior decision in NLRB v. Ladish Co., 538 F.2d 1267 (1976), which had refused enforcement of a Board order to bargain about in-plant food prices, enforced the Board's order here because, "under the facts and circumstances of this case, in-plant cafeteria and vending machine food prices and services materially and significantly affect and have an impact upon terms and conditions of employment and therefore are mandatory subjects of bargaining." 571 F.2d, at 1000. The court was particularly influenced by the lack of reasonable eating alternatives for employees, declaring that "[the] food one must pay for and eat as a captive customer within the employer's plant can be viewed as a physical dimension of one's working environment." Ibid.

Because of the importance of the issue and the apparent conflict between the decision below and decisions of other Circuits, see n. 6, supra, we granted certiorari. 439 U.S. 891 (1978). We affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals ...

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