LABOR BOARD V. CABOT CARBON CO., 360 U. S. 203 (1959)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Labor Board v. Cabot Carbon Co., 360 U.S. 203 (1959)

National Labor Relations Board v. Cabot Carbon Co.,

No. 329

Argued March 24, 1959

Decided June 8, 1959

360 U.S. 203


Respondents organized an "employee committee" at each of their numerous plants for the stated purposes of meeting regularly with management to consider and discuss problems of mutual interest, including grievances, and of handling grievances at nonunion plants and departments. In practice, such committees also made proposals and requests respecting such matters as seniority, job classification, job bidding, working schedules, holidays, vacations, sick leave, a merit system, wage corrections, and improvement of working conditions and facilities. A "central committee" consisting of the chairmen of the several plant committees also met annually at the head office with respondents' Director of Industrial Relations and made proposals and requests with respect to matters covering nearly the whole scope of the employment relationship which are commonly considered and dealt with in collective bargaining. After appropriate administrative proceedings, the National Labor Relations Board found that both the "employee committees" and the "central committee" were "labor organizations" within the meaning of § 2(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, and that respondents had dominated, interfered with, and supported them in violation of § 8(a)(2), and it issued an appropriate cease and desist order.

Held: the order is sustained. Pp. 360 U. S. 204-218.

1. Such committees are "labor organizations" within the meaning of § 2(5) of the Act. Pp. 360 U. S. 210-218.

(a) Since such committees exist, in part at least, for the purpose of "dealing with employers concerning grievances . . . or conditions of work," they are not excluded from the definition of "labor organizations" in § 2(5) simply because they do not "bargain with" employers in the usual concept of collective bargaining. Pp. 360 U. S. 210-213.

(b) Consideration of the declared purposes and actual functions of these committees shows that they existed for the purpose, in part at least, of "dealing with employers concerning grievances,

Page 360 U. S. 204

labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of work, or conditions of work," and that, therefore, they are "labor organizations" within the meaning of § 2(5). Pp. 360 U. S. 213-215.

(c) There is nothing in the 1947 amendment of § 9(a) or its legislative history to indicate that Congress thereby eliminated, or intended to eliminate, such employee committees from the term "labor organization" as defined in § 2(5) and used in § 8(a)(2), or that authorizes an employer to engage in "dealing with" an employer-dominated "labor organization" as the representative of his employees concerning their grievances. Pp. 360 U. S. 215-218.

2. Since the Board's order does not forbid employers and employees from discussing matters of mutual interest concerning the employment relationship, but merely precludes the employers from dominating, interfering with or supporting the employee committees, it does not abridge freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment. P. 360 U. S. 218.

256 F.2d 281 reversed.

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