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National Labor Relations Board v. John S. Swift Co.

May 2, 1960

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, PETITIONER,
v.
JOHN S. SWIFT COMPANY, INC., RESPONDENT.



Author: Castle

Before HASTINGS, Chief Judge, CASTLE, Circuit Judge, and MERCER, District Judge.

CASTLE, C. J.: This case is before the Court upon the petition of the National Labor Relations Board pursuant to Section 10(e) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended (29 U.S.C.A. ยง 160(e)) for enforcement of its order issued against John S. Swift Company, Inc., respondent. The Board's decision and order are reported at 124 N.L.R.B. Number 46.

The Board found that the Company violated Section 8(a)(5) and (1) of the Act by refusing to furnish wage and classification data required by the Union,*fn1 and a breakdown as to the cost of the Company's existing health and welfare plan in the certified unit; that the Company violated Section 8(a)(3) and (1) of the Act by discharging employee Andrew Poch because of his union activities, and by discharging five other employees on March 12, 1957 because they refused to cross a picket line established to protest the lawful discharge of several other employees; and violated Section 8(a)(1) by unlawfully interrogating a prospective employee as to whether he was a union member or had any desire to join a union.

The Board's order required the Company to furnish the Union upon request with information regarding wages and apprentice or journeyman status of the employees in the unit, and further with information concerning the existing health and welfare program, including the cost to the Company of the existing benefits under the program paid to the employees in the unit; to offer reinstatement with back pay to Poch; upon application to reinstate the five employees discharged on March 12, 1957, to their former or equivalent positions and to place on a preferential hiring list those employees for whom no employment is available; to cease interrogating applicants concerning union membership or activities in a manner violating Section 8(a)(1); and to post appropriate notices.

The contested issues are:

1. Whether substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that the Company refused to bargain in good faith, in violation of Section 8(a)(5) of the Act, by refusing to furnish the Union with pertinent information as to wages and classifications and as to the cost of the Company's health and welfare plan.

2. Whether substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that the Company discriminatorily discharged employee Poch in violation of Section 8(a)(3) and (1) of the Act.

3. Whether the Board properly held that the Company's discharge of five employees because of their refusal to cross the picket line violated Section 8(a)(3) and (1) of the Act.

4. Whether the Board properly found that the Company violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act by requiring the disclosure by a job applicant of his union affiliation and attitude.

On June 1, 1956, the Board certified the Union as the collective bargaining agent for all lithographic production employees in the Company's Chicago plant. That unit comprises only a portion of the employees at the Chicago plant; the Company also maintains plants in other cities. The Company and the Union engaged in various bargaining sessions between July 1956 and February 1957 without, however, reaching agreement as to a collective labor contract.

The Union at negotiating meetings on August 3 and October 1, 1956, requested that the Company furnish it with a list of the names of all employees in the unit, the wages of each employee, the classification of each employee as journeyman or apprentice, and if classified as an apprentice the time credit the firm considered due to him. Jones, vice-president and general manager of the Company promised on August 3, to provide this information but it was never furnished.

One of the Union's bargaining demands was the institution of its own health and welfare plan for the employees represented by it in the Chicago plant at a weekly cost to the Company of $2 per employee. The Company took the position throughout the negotiations that it would not make any changes in its existing plan covering pensions, life insurance and "health and welfare" benefits applicable to all its plants. At a negotiating meeting on June 30, 1956, the Union requested information concerning the cost of the "health and welfare benefits" for the employees in the unit here involved and was told by Jones that the overall cost of the Company wide program, without separation as to the various benefits or as to the several plants operated by the Company, amounted to $.6006 per hour. The Union's negotiator, Spohnholtz, asked for a breakdown indicating the cost of the health and welfare program alone but Jones claimed he could not give it to him, that "it was all one ball of wax", and was all contained in the 60 cents figure.

The Union repeated its request for information on the cost of the health and welfare plan at the next bargaining meeting on September 17, but to no avail. Jones merely promised to relay the request to the Company's president, Swift. Spohnholtz made another effort to obtain the requested information at an October 5, meeting. On February 20, 1957, Jones called Spohnholtz, promised to procure certain data on the health and welfare plan, and told him that the Company auditor was preparing them. However, on February 25, Jones informed Spohnholtz that he had the figures on the cost of the plan but could not "break it down". The Company never furnished information to the Union as to the cost of the health and welfare plan.

Andrew Poch was a member of the Union negotiating committee. Poch worked in the stripping department of the Company from April 1954 until his summary discharge on January 3, 1957. His department head, Brogni, considered him a very good workman. The Company gave Poch a $10 weekly merit wage increase about three months before his ...


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