LABOR BOARD V. KATZ, 369 U. S. 736 (1962)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Labor Board v. Katz, 369 U.S. 736 (1962)

Labor Board v. Katz

No. 222

Argued March 22, 1962

Decided May 21, 1962

369 U.S. 736


While bona fide contract negotiations with a union representing its employees were being carried on, the employer, unilaterally and without first consulting the union, put into effect a new system of automatic wage increases, changes in sick leave benefits, and numerous merit increases, although such matters were subjects of the pending contract negotiations.

Held: by so doing, the employer violated the duty "to bargain collectively" imposed by § 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. Pp. 369 U. S. 737-748.

(a) On the record in this case, the Labor Board was justified in finding that the employer's unilateral action was taken before the contract negotiations were discontinued, and before the existence of any possible impasse. Pp. 369 U. S. 741-742.

(b) Even in the absence of a finding of over-all subjective bad faith, an employer's unilateral change in conditions of employment under negotiation violates § 8(a)(5), for it is a circumvention of the duty to negotiate which frustrates the objectives of § 8(a)(5) as much as would a flat refusal to negotiate. Pp. 369 U. S. 742-743.

(c) The unilateral changes in sick leave benefits plainly frustrated the statutory objective of establishing working conditions through collective bargaining and violated § 8(a)(5). P. 369 U. S. 744.

(d) The employer's grant of wage increases greater than any he had ever offered the union at the bargaining table was necessarily inconsistent with a sincere desire to conclude an agreement with the union, and it violated § 8(a)(5). Pp. 369 U. S. 744-745.

(e) The employer's unilateral action in granting discretionary merit increases to 20 employees was tantamount to an outright refusal to negotiate on that subject, and it violated § 8(a)(5). Pp. 369 U. S. 745-747.

(f) Labor Board v. Insurance Agents' Union, 361 U. S. 477, distinguished. Pp. 369 U. S. 747-748.

289 F.2d 700, reversed.

Page 369 U. S. 737

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