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NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. INTERNATIONAL RICE MILLING CO.

decided: June 4, 1951.

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
v.
INTERNATIONAL RICE MILLING CO., INC. ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.

Vinson, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Jackson, Burton, Clark, Minton

Author: Burton

[ 341 U.S. Page 666]

 MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented is whether a union violated § 8 (b) (4) of the National Labor Relations Act, 49 Stat. 449, 29 U. S. C. § 151, as amended by the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947,*fn1 under the following circumstances:

[ 341 U.S. Page 667]

     Although not certified or recognized as the representative of the employees of a certain mill engaged in interstate commerce, the agents of the union picketed the mill with the object of securing recognition of the union as the collective bargaining representative of the mill employees. In the course of their picketing, the agents sought to influence, or in the language of the statute they "encouraged," two men in charge of a truck of a neutral customer of the mill to refuse, in the course of their employment, to go to the mill for an order of goods. For the reasons hereinafter stated, we hold that such conduct did not violate § 8 (b) (4).

This case was heard here with No. 393, Labor Board v. Denver Building Trades Council, post, p. 675; No. 108,

[ 341 U.S. Page 668]

     The findings adopted by the Board show that the incident before us occurred at the union's picket line near the Kaplan Mill in October, 1947. The pickets generally carried signs, one being "This job is unfair to" the union. The goal of the pickets was recognition of the union as the collective bargaining representative of the mill employees, but none of those employees took part in the picketing. Late one afternoon two employees of The Sales and Service House, which was a customer of the mill, came in a truck to the Kaplan Mill to obtain rice or bran for their employer. The union had no grievance against the customer and the latter was a neutral in the dispute between the union and the mill. The pickets formed a line across the road and walked toward the truck. When the truck stopped, the pickets told its occupants there was a strike on and that the truck would have to go back. Those on the truck agreed, went back to the highway and stopped. There one got out and went to the mill across the street. At that time a vice president of the Kaplan Mill came out and asked whether the truck was on its way to the mill and whether its occupants wanted to get the order they came for. The man on the truck explained that he was not the driver and that he would have to see the driver. On the driver's return, the truck proceeded,

[ 341 U.S. Page 670]

     with the vice president, to the mill by a short detour. The pickets ran toward the truck and threw stones at it. The truck entered the mill, but the findings do not disclose whether the articles sought there were obtained. The Board adopted the finding that "the stopping of the Sales House truck drivers and the use of force in connection with the stoppage were within the 'scope of the employment' of the pickets as agents of the respondent [union] and that such activities are attributable to the respondent." 84 N. L. R. B. 360, 372.

The most that can be concluded from the foregoing, to establish a violation of § 8 (b) (4), is that the union, in the course of picketing the Kaplan Mill, did encourage two employees of a neutral customer to turn back from an intended trip to the mill and thus to refuse, in the course of their employment, to transport articles or perform certain services for their employer. We may assume, without the necessity of adopting the Board's findings to that effect, that the objects of such conduct on the part of the union and its agents were (1) to force Kaplan's customer to cease handling, transporting or otherwise dealing in products of the mill or to cease doing business with Kaplan, at that time and place, and (2) to add to the pressure on Kaplan to recognize the union as the bargaining representative of the mill employees.

A sufficient answer to this claimed violation of the section is that the union's picketing and its encouragement of the men on the truck did not amount to such an inducement or encouragement to "concerted" activity as the section proscribes. While each case must be considered in the light of its surrounding circumstances, yet the applicable ...


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