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U.S. Supreme Court

Bayside Enterprises, Inc. v. NLRB, 429 U.S. 298 (1977)

Bayside Enterprises, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

No. 75-1267

Argued November 10, 1976

Decided January 11, 1977

429 U.S. 298


Petitioners, operating a large, vertically integrated poultry business (including breeding farms, chicken hatcheries, a slaughtering and processing plant, and a mill for producing poultry feed), contract with 119 independently owned and operated farms for the raising of chickens which are hatched in petitioners' hatcheries. Petitioners supply the farms with one-day-old chicks, their feed, medicine and supplies, and fuel, and pick up the chicks about nine weeks later when ready for slaughtering and processing. Petitioners retain title to the chicks at all times, and pay the farmers a guaranteed sum plus a bonus based on poultry weight in exchange for the farmers' services in caring for and housing the chicks. The chicks are fed with feed from petitioners' feedmill delivered by truck drivers employed by petitioners specifically for this purpose. The petitioners refused to bargain collectively with a union representing these drivers, contending that the drivers were not employees as defined in § 2(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, but were exempted from protections of the Act as agricultural laborers by the related definition in § 3(f) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The union's resulting unfair labor practice charge was sustained by the National Labor Relations Board and the Court of Appeals on the ground that the truck drivers were not agricultural laborers because their duties were not incidental to petitioners' agricultural activities.

Held: The drivers are "employees" within the coverage of the NLRA, not agricultural laborers, their status being determined by the character of the work that they perform for their employer, which work is not incidental to any of their employer's (petitioners') agricultural activities, the feedmill operation being nonagricultural and the storage and use of feed on the independent farms being agricultural activity performed by the independent farmers, not by petitioners. The NLRB's conclusion that the truck drivers are employees is based on a reasonable interpretation of the NLRA, comports with the NLRB's prior holdings, and is supported by the Secretary of Labor's construction of § 3(f). Pp. 429 U. S. 299-304.

527 F.2d 436, affirmed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 429 U. S. 299

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