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Interlake Iron Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board.

October 27, 1942


Petition to Review Final Order of National Labor Relations Board.

Author: Minton

Before EVANS, KERNER, and MINTON, Circuit Judges.

MINTON, Circuit Judge.

The petitioner, Interlake Iron Corporation, hereinafter referred to as the company, seeks to review and set aside an order of the National Labor Relations Board, hereinafter referred to as the Board, and the Board is requesting that the order be enforced.

The Board found that the company in violation of Section 8(1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(1), had interfered with, restrained and coerced it employees in the exercise of their rights under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 157; and further, that the petitioner had laid off and failed to rehire eight employees because of their union membership and activities, thereby violating Sections 8(1) and 8(3) of the Act. The Board issued an order that the company cease and desist from its unfair labor practices, that it offer reinstatement with back pay to the eight employees found to have been discriminated against, and that it post appropriate notices.

The question presented on this appeal is whether or not there is substantial evidence to support the Board's findings.

First, as to the unfair labor practices in violation of Section 8(1). The evidence shows that the petitioner operated in the city of Chicago, Illinois, blast furnaces and coke ovens and employed between nine hundred and a thousand men; that in 1933 some of the employees of the company obtained from the American Federation of Labor a charter and started organization of the employees in an organization called the Independent Gas Workers Union. The company took swift and drastic action by discharging the officers and known members of the organization. The employees were subsequently reinstated, following intervention of the National Labor Board of the National Recovery Administration, but this organization was never revived.

In 1933 the company openly sponsored, supported and dominated a company union, which continued in existence until the National Labor Relations Act was held constitutional, when the company in good faith abandoned the company union. During the year of 1935, while there was pending before the Congress the legislation which afterwards became the National Labor Relations Act, the manager of the company prepared a telegram to be sent to Congress in opposition to the passage of the bill, and then called the employees to his office and had them sign the telegram.

Thus it will be seen that up until the time the National Labor Relations Act was held constitutional, the attitude of the company was one of violent opposition to labor organizations, except the independent organization which it had dominated.

After the Supreme Court had sustained the National Labor Relations Act, a campaign to organize the employees of the company got under way, with two rival organizations in the field: one an independent union, hereinafter referred to as the association, and the other an affiliate of the Congress for Industrial Organizations, hereinafter called the union. The campaign went forward, and an election was held under the supervision of the Board to determine the bargaining agency for the company's employees. The independent association won. The company was absolved by the Board of any support or domination of the association.

During the campaign one Harper, an employee, let it be known in the dressing room of the employees, where some fifty or sixty men were assembled, including some of the foremen, that he, Harper, had canvassed his department and ninety-eight per cent were in favor of the CIO, and that he was going to join the CIO and work for its organization. This was immediately reported to Mr. Waggoner, the manager of the company, and he sent for Mr. Harper. Waggoner inquired of Harper what the sentiment was in the plant, and Harper told him in his department they favored the CIO. Waggoner proceeded to tell Harper that the leaders of the CIO were communistic, and appealed to Harper because of his Catholic religion not to have anything to do with the CIO. On another occasion, Waggoner said to Harper, referring to his union activities, that "he had two roads to choose from, the right and the left."

In June of 1937, one Eagleton, an employee who was acting as chairman of the union, had a conference with the company manager, Waggoner, regarding a grievance of an employee. On this occasion, they discussed the Republic Steel Corporation strike then going on in South Chicago. At this time, Waggoner stated to Eagleton that if the Republic Steel Corporation could not run its plant the way it saw fit, it would close up, and that Republic Steel would never sign a contract with the CIO because "it was communistic, irresponsible and not incorporated"; and he said to Eagleton, "Why don't you use your head and break away from this communistic outfit? * * * the Employees Association will get you as far as the CIO."

The second shift foreman, Schrock, said to one of the employees who was wearing his union button, "What have you got that on for? You are throwing your money away," and this same foreman on another occasion when an employee was hit on the head with a sledge hammer, remarked, "Well, you won't hurt his head so long as you don't hur his button," - referring to the CIO button on his cap.

One Newsam, an employee, testified that the relief fopreman, Buckner, came to him in August of 1937 and told him that "if he expected to get anywhere" he would have to join the association; whereupon Newsam replied that he did not recognize the association as a union, ...

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