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National Labor Relations Board v. Sunbeam Electric Mfg. Co.

February 6, 1943


On petition for the enforcement of an order of the National Labor Relations Board.

Author: Minton

Before EVANS, MAJOR, and MINTON, Circuit Judges.

MINTON, Circuit Judge.

This is a petition by the National Labor Relations Board, hereinafter called the Board, for the enforcement of its order against the Sunbeam Electric Manufacturing Company, hereinafter called the company. The company was found guilty of unfair labor practices in that it had, in violation of Section 8(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 158(1), interfered with, restrained and coerced its employees in the rights granted them under Section 7, 29 U.S.C.A. § 157. The order directs the company, its officers, agents, successors and assigns to cease and desist from in any manner interfering with, restraining or coercing its employees in the exercise of their rights under Section 7 of the Act, and orders the company to distribute notices to all of its employees stating that it will not engage in the conduct from which it was ordered to cease and desist, and to post the usual notices.

Questions are presented on the validity and the sufficiency of the complaint, the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the Board's findings, and the form and content of the order. We shall consider them in this order.

The company challenged, at its first opportunity, the validity of the complaint, which was signed by the Regional Director. The company contends that by the rules of the Board, the complaint should have been signed either by the Executive Secretary of the Board or by the Director of the Field Division of the board, as required by Article VI, Section 2, of the Rules and Regulations of the Board; and that the Board had not delegated to the Regional Director the right to sign complaints.

Article I, Section 4 of the Rules provides that the Regional Director shall be the Board's agent in a particular region. Article II provides for the filing of charges of unfair labor practices. Section 2 thereof provides that such charges shall be filed with the Regional Director for the region in which the alleged unfair labor practice took place, except as provided in Section 36 of the same article. Article IV, Section 1, provides that, "All Regional Directors now or hereafter in the employ of the Board are herewith designated by the Board as its agents: * * * (c) To issue and cause to be served complaints, * * * ".

Thus it will be seen that all charges upon which complaints shall issue shall be filed with the Regional Director, who shall issue and cause to be served the complaint, except those charges filed pursuant to Section 36 of Article II. Section 36 provides exceptional circumstances under which the charges may be filed with the Board in Washington, and, in that event, the provisions of Section 3 to 31, inclusive, of Article II shall apply, as far as applicable, and, " * * * the powers granted to Regional Directors in such provisions shall, for the purpose of this section, be reserved to and exercised by Board." It is as to these charges, that the Board permits to be filed and controlled in the Washington office, that Section 2 of Article VI applies. This Section provides: "The Executive Secretary of the Board, or in the event of his absence or disability, the Director of the Field Division of the Board, is hereby authorized to sign all orders of the Board, and sign and issue all complaints authorized to be issued by the Board." Obviously, this means all complaints issued from Washington under Article II, Section 36 of the Rules. It is there the offices of the Executive Secretary and the Director of the Field Divsion of the Board are located.

We therefore hold that all complaints filed in the Regional Office may be properly signed by the Regional Director, who is th agent of the Board in his region to issue and serve the complaints. The Rules contemplate that when a complaint is issued it shall be signed, and when the Board made the Regional Director its agent to issue, it made him its agent to sign.

The company next urges that the complaint does not allege a violation of Section 8(1) of the Act, but only that the company has engaged "in a preconceived and continuous plan and course of action for the purpose of interfering with the selforganization of its employees * * * ." In its brief the company says: "Reading the complaint in its entirety, it is quite obvious that the Board intended to charge the respondent, Sunbeam Electric Manufacturing Co., with violations of Section 8(1) of the Act rather than a violation of any of the other provisions of the National Labor Relations Act."

If it is "quite obvious" to the company what the Board intended to charge, then it was sufficient to advise the company what the proceedings were about, and what the company would have to meet on the hearing. The National Labor Relations Act does not contemplate or require pleadings to meet the exacting standards of a court of law. Neither the accuracy nor the form of such pleadings is required. All that is required of the complaint in such proceedings is that it shall state facts which shall enable the respondent to understand the offense which it is alleged the respondent has committed under the Act, and to understand the issue it will be required to meet. For the company to participate in the extensive hearings in this proceeding before the Board and to admit in its brief here that it is perfectl obvious that the Board intended to charge in its complaint the various things ti found the company guilty of, and then to urge upon us the insufficiency of the complaint, seems manifestly absurd. The complaint was sufficient.

In determining whether or not there is substantial evidence to support the facts found, we look only to the evidence that is favorable to the findings. These facts are supported by substantial evidence in the record.

The Board had called an election among the cabinet division employees of the company (Building No. 2) pursuant to a petition filed by the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, hereinafter called the union. The election went against the union. It thereupon filed an amendment to its complaint in which it charged the company with interfering with the election in violation of Section 8(1) of the National Labor Relations Act.

The union had started to organize in the company's plant in January, 1941. Up to that time, there had never been any union activity about the company's plant. The petition of the union requesting an investigation and certification of representation, pursuant to Section 9(c) of the Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 159(c), was filed on April 18, 1941. On August 23, 1941, the Board ordered an election to be held September 16, 1941.

While the proceedings were pending for such investigation and the order for the election, the company, through its executive officers, entered upon a vigorous campaign among its employees to make sure the election went against the union. Be fore the Board had held its hearing on the union's petition of April 18, 1941, the company superintendent summoned to his office two employees, and after commenting upon their union buttons, inquired of them, in effect, what they expected to get out of the union that they couldn't get out of the management. The ...

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