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National Labor Relations Board v. Lightner Pub. Corp.

July 1, 1940

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
LIGHTNER PUB. CORPORATION OF ILLINOIS.



On Petition for the Enforcement of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board.

Author: Treanor

Before MAJOR, TREANOR, and KERNER, Circuit Judges.

TREANOR, Circuit Judge.

This case is before us upon the petition of the National Labor Relations Board for a decree of enforcement of the Board's order which was issued against the respondent, Lightner Publishing Corporation of Illinois, under the authority of Section 10(c) of the National Labor Relations Act.*fn1

Chicago Typographical Union No. 16 and Chicago Printing Pressmen's Union No. 3 filed a complaint against the respondent alleging that the Unions represented a majority of respondent's employees in units appropriate for collective bargaining and charging that respondent had refused to bargain with the Unions. The complaint further alleged that because of respondent's refusal to bargain collectively its employees went on strike on September 30, 1937; that from October 25, 1937, to the date of the issuance of the complaint, respondent had endeavored to dissuade its employees from retaining membrship in said Union and had urged and solicited some of its employees to abandon their Union activities and to return to work as individuals and not as members of the Unions; and that the respondent threatened to cease operations of the plant if the employees remained members of the Unions. The complaint further alleged that by the enumerated acts respondent had engaged in, and was engaging in, unfair labor practices within the meaning of Section 8(1) and (5) and Section 2(6) and (7) of the Act.

The respondent's president, O. C. Lightner, by letter to the Board, denied that respondent had engaged in unfair labor practices and stated that respondent did not intend to retain counsel and would not appear at the hearing. Respondent did not appear at the hearing although it filed with the Board a letter excepting to the intermediate report of the trial examiner. Respondent was notified that it had the privilege of applying for oral argument before the Board but respondent did not do so. On May 26, 1939, the Board issued its decision in which was set forth its findings of fact, conclusions of law, and its order based thereon.

The Board found that the respondent had refused to bargain collectively with the representatives of its employees and, thereby, had committed an unfair labor practice within the meaning of Section 8(5); the Board also found that the respondent had interfered with, restrained and coerced its employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed by Section 7 of the Act and thereby had committed an unfair labor practice.

The Board also found that the strike of the respondent's employees, which began September 30, 1937, was caused by respondent's refusal to bargain collectively.

A portion of the Board's order is based on the Board's finding that the respondent refused to engage in collective bargaining with the Unions prior to the calling of the strike, and upon the further finding that the strike resulted from respondent's refusal to engage in collective bargaining.

It is clear that there was no direct refusal to bargain with the committee as the representative of respondent's employees prior to the beginning of the strike on September 30, 1937. It is the contention of the Board, however, that the evidence was sufficient to justify an inference that the respondent was not acting in good faith with the representatives of its employees and that respondent had a "preconceived intention of evading" its obligation under the Act.

There is no conflict in the testimony respecting the reaction of Mr. Lightner, as the representative of respondent company, during the two conferences which were held prior to the strike on September 30. the evidence consists of the testimony of members of the bargaining committee. When the committee informed Mr. Lightner at the conference on September 20, 1937, that it represented the men working in the press room and "would like to do a little collective bargaining", and offered to show the evidence of their authority, Mr. Lightner waived aside the evidence of authority with the remark that "there wasn't anything he could do about it." But Mr. Lightner did not question the authority of the committee to represent the employees and there is no evidence to indicate that the failure to negotiate an agreement was due to Mr. Lightner's refusal to recognize the committee as the bargaining agent of his men. While no satisfactory progress was made during this first meeting the committee did succeed in proposing to Mr. Lightner that the respondent adopt the "step rate" system. The adoption of this system meant an eventual, but gradual, increase in prices and Lightner stated that he did not want to increase his prices. When the committee left it was understood that there would be another conference in about a week.the committee requested Mr. Lightner to think over the "step rate" system proposition and he replied that his mind "would be the same then as it is now." The following conversation then took place:

(Committee) "You think it over. Maybe there will be a little change come over you."

(Mr. Lightner) "All right."

The testimony reveals that Mr. Lightner was opposed, unqualifiedly, to an increase in wages; but in support of this position he stated that he "wasn't making any money in the printing business and all the money he was making he was giving to the employees and he wasn't taking any, not one red cent, out of the business." and it is ...


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