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National Labor Relations Board v. Indiana and Michigan Electric Co.

decided: May 21, 1979.

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, PETITIONER,
v.
INDIANA AND MICHIGAN ELECTRIC COMPANY, RESPONDENT



Petition for Enforcement of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board

Before Tone and Wood, Circuit Judges, and East,*fn* District Judge.

Author: East

The petitioner National Labor Relations Board (the Board) seeks enforcement of its order issued against the respondent Indiana and Michigan Electric Company (the Company) on May 11, 1977 and reported at 229 NLRB No. 95. The Board reaffirmed its order in a supplemental decision and order issued on April 24, 1978 and reported at 235 NLRB No. 159. We note jurisdiction of the proceeding under § 10(e) of the National Labor Relations Act (the Act), as amended 29 U.S.C. § 151, Et seq., and enforce the order.

BACKGROUND FACTS:

The Company is an incorporated Indiana public utility which generates and sells electricity in Indiana and Michigan. The Company and Local 1392, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO (the Union) are presently parties to four collective bargaining agreements. These agreements separately cover Company employees in the following four bargaining units in Indiana and Michigan: (1) South Bend, Benton Harbor and Twin Branch Generating Divisions; (2) Marion and Muncie Divisions; (3) Fort Wayne Division; and (4) General Office Transmission Construction and Maintenance Group. The Fort Wayne Division unit was established in 1934 through the Company's voluntary recognition, while the other three units were established between 1952 and 1971 through Board certification.

In early 1971, the Union's predecessor locals filed with the Board's 25th Regional Office (the Regional Office), over Company opposition, unit clarification and amendment of certification petitions requesting establishment of a single company-wide bargaining unit. The Regional Office dismissed these petitions. In September, 1971, the predecessor locals merged into the Union. The Company agreed to recognize the Union so long as the separate identities of the four bargaining units were maintained.

In 1972, and again in early 1975, the Company filed with the Regional Office unfair labor practice charges alleging, in effect, that the Union was attempting to engage in a company-wide bargaining in derogation of the established four units. In both cases, the Regional Office determined that the evidence did not support the charges and refused to issue unfair labor practice complaints. In the 1972 case, the Board's General Counsel upheld on appeal the Regional Office decision.

In the 1975-76 collective bargaining cycle, the four then existing contracts expired on different dates between October 31 and December 31, 1975.*fn1 The parties set separate schedules of contract renewal negotiations for each of the four units.

The initial bargaining session was held on September 23 for the South Bend, Benton Harbor and Twin Branch Generating Divisions unit, whose existing contract expired first. At that meeting, the Union suggested, as it had in the past, that negotiations be combined for all four units. The Union repeated this suggestion at the next negotiating session on October 1 for the Marion and Muncie Divisions unit. On each occasion, the Company rejected the Union's suggestion. At the September 23rd meeting, the Union made neither "local" demands relating to the South Bend, Benton Harbor and Twin Branch Generating Divisions unit nor economic demands. In later bargaining sessions, the Union's demands in the four units were very similar.

During the September and October negotiations, the Union was represented by a single bargaining committee consisting of nine to eleven members. The committee consisted of Chester M. Herriman, the Union's Business Manager; a union international representative; employee members of the specific unit to which the bargaining in question directly pertained; and employee members drawn from other units. The employee representatives in the last category were called "travelers," a designation referring to the necessity of their traveling from their own units in order to attend negotiations in other units.*fn2 At a union meeting prior to the September bargaining session, employees elected some of the travelers, and the union leadership appointed the others. Travelers participated without Company protest in the first four bargaining sessions September 23, October 1, October 8, and October 9.

Immediately after the meeting on October 9, 1975, in South Bend, Mr. Willmore, the Company's Labor Supervisor, and Mr. Herriman agreed on a schedule for further meetings in all four units. The schedule tentatively agreed upon called for the following meetings in the following units:

1. South Bend, Benton Harbor, Twin Branch unit October 29 and 30.

2. Marion-Muncie unit November 10 and 18.

3. General Office unit November 26, December ...


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