CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.
Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Jackson, Burton, Clark, Minton
MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case is a companion to Labor Board v. Mexia Textile Mills, ante, p. 563, decided this day. Respondent is a manufacturer of clothing in Texas, and is engaged in interstate commerce within the meaning of the labor relations acts.*fn1 In December 1943, the National Labor Relations Board designated Local Union No. 251 of the United Garment Workers of America, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor, the exclusive bargaining representative of certain of respondent's employees. In December 1945, the Union charged the respondent with violations of §§ 8 (1) and 8 (5) of the National Labor Relations Act in connection with a strike going on at that time. The Board's complaint was issued pursuant to these charges in April 1946; a hearing was held; the Trial Examiner's intermediate report was issued; and, since no exceptions to the report were entered by the respondent, the Board, on August 26, 1946, adopted the
Trial Examiner's findings,*fn2 conclusions and recommendations, and ordered the respondent to cease and desist from its refusal to bargain with the Union. With certain limitations, the company was also ordered to offer reinstatement and back pay to employees who had gone on strike. 70 N. L. R. B. 540 (1946).
Two and one-half years later, on February 17, 1949, the Board petitioned the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for the enforcement of its order. Respondent moved for leave to adduce additional evidence. It stated that it had bargained with the Union since the date of the order, but that no agreement had been reached; that the Union had made no effort to bargain since early in 1948; that respondent questioned whether the Union retained the majority of employees in the bargaining unit, since certain employees had informed respondent that they had left the Union, and the Union's organizer had stated, according to respondent, that a rival union had a "substantial group" within its membership; that these facts had come to respondent's attention since the "record in the instant case was closed and completed"; and finally that the passage of the statute imposing a duty upon the Union to bargain with the respondent might affect the disposition of the case before the Board.
On May 13, 1949, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit entered an order identical in pertinent part with that quoted in Labor Board v. Mexia Textile Mills, ante, p. 563. We granted certiorari, 338 U.S. 909 (1950).
Although respondent concedes that the decision in the Mexia case governs the case at bar, a single issue may deserve separate treatment. In the instant case the Board waited two and one-half years before it sought enforcement of its order. There is a suggestion that the
length of the delay may have influenced the Court of Appeals in ordering the Board to take evidence on the question of compliance. We regard this as doubtful, in view of its identical action in the Mexia case, when the petition for enforcement was filed only nine months after the Board's order. But in any event we view the delay as without consequence in this case.
The Board is of course charged with primary responsibility in effectuating the policies of the Act. It has determined that those policies are advanced in some cases by resorting to the processes of negotiation with the employer rather than the compulsion, as well as the trouble and expense, of an enforcement decree. See § 202.13 of the Board's earlier regulations regarding the Labor Management Relations Act, 12 Fed. Reg. 5651, 5653 (1947). In some cases delay in enforcement may be helpful in reaching an immediate solution of the problem; in others, exhaustion of negotiation techniques before a decree is requested may consume many months after the Board's order and before such techniques fail. We are of the opinion that a strict judicial time limitation of the duration presented in the instant case would frustrate the deliberate purpose of Congress in permitting, but not requiring, resort to an enforcement decree.*fn3 Cf. § 10 (b), which states a definite period of limitation regarding charges filed with the Board. Compare ...