LABOR BOARD V. LION OIL CO., 352 U. S. 282 (1957)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Labor Board v. Lion Oil Co., 352 U.S. 282 (1957)

National Labor Relations Board v. Lion Oil Co.

No. 4

Argued October 8, 1956

Decided January 22, 1957

352 U.S. 282


Section 8(d)(4) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, provides that a party who desires to modify or terminate a collective bargaining contract must continue

"in full force and effect, without resorting to strike or lock-out, all the terms and conditions of the existing contract for a period of sixty days after . . . notice is given or until the expiration date of such contract, whichever occurs later."

Under a collective bargaining contract between an employer and a labor union, the earliest date upon which the contract was subject to amendment was October 23, 1951, and the contract became terminable after that date upon further notice by either party. The union gave notice of proposed amendments 60 days in advance of October 23, and a strike occurred long after that date, though without further notice of termination of the contract.


1. The notice and waiting requirements of § 8(d) were fully satisfied, the strike did not violate § 8(d)(4), and the strikers did not lose their status as employees entitled to the protection of the Act. Pp. 352 U. S. 283-294.

(a) In expounding a statute, courts must not be guided by a single sentence or member of a sentence, but must look to the provisions of the whole law, and to its object and policy. P. 352 U. S. 288.

(b) A construction of a statute that would produce incongruous results is to be avoided. P. 352 U. S. 288.

(c) The substitution of collective bargaining for economic warfare, and the protection of the right of employees to engage in concerted activities for their own benefit, were dual purposes of the Taft-Hartley Act, and a construction which serves neither of these aims is to be avoided. Mastro Plastics Corp. v. Labor Board, 350 U. S. 270, 350 U. S. 284. P. 352 U. S. 289.

(d) "Expiration date" in § 8(d)(1) of the Act relates to the date when a contract is subject to modification, as well as the date when it would come to an end, and the same phrase in § 8(d)(4) must carry the same meaning. Pp. 352 U. S. 289-290.

(e) This construction gives meaning to the congressional language which accords with the general purpose of the Act. Pp. 352 U. S. 290-292.

Page 352 U. S. 283

(f) The fact that, on October 23, the contract became terminable upon further notice by either party is immaterial. The statutory notice requirement operates wholly independently of whatever notice requirement the parties have fixed for themselves. P. 352 U. S. 292.

2. The strike was not in breach of the contract, and the strikers were not disentitled to relief in proceedings before the Labor Board. Labor Board v. Sands Mfg. Co., 306 U. S. 332, distinguished. Pp. 352 U. S. 293-294.

(a) Where there has been no express waiver of the right to strike, a waiver of the right during such a period is not to be inferred. P. 352 U. S. 293.

(b) The two-phase provision for terminating the contract here involved does not mean that it was not within the contemplation of the parties that economic weapons might be used to support demands for modification before the notice to terminate was given. P. 352 U. S. 293.

221 F.2d 231 reversed and remanded.

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