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U.S. Supreme Court

Labor Board v. Insurance Agents' Int'l Union, 361 U.S. 477 (1960)

National Labor Relations Board v. Insurance Agents'

International Union, AFL-CIO

No. 15

Argued December 7-8, 1959

Decided February 23, 1960

361 U.S. 477


On a complaint before the National Labor Relations Board charging that a union had refused to bargain in good faith with an employer in violation of § 8(b)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, it appeared that the union had conferred with the employer at the bargaining table for the purpose and with the desire of reaching an agreement on contract terms, but that, during the negotiations, it had sponsored concerted on-the-job activities by its members of a harassing nature designed to interfere with the conduct of the employer's business, for the avowed purpose of putting economic pressure on the employer to accede to the union's bargaining demands.

Held: Such tactics would not support a finding by the Board that the union had failed to bargain in good faith as required by § 8(b)(3). Pp. 361 U. S. 478-500.

(1) The basic premise of the duty of collective bargaining required in the Act is that it is a process in which the parties deal with each other in a serious, good-faith desire to reach agreement and to enter into a contract ordering their industrial relationship. Congress did not intend that the Board control the substantive terms of collective bargaining contracts through the administration of this requirement, and it added § 8(d) in the Taft-Hartley Act to make the proper construction of the duty clear. Pp. 361 U. S. 483-487.

(2) By adding § 8(b)(3) to the Act through the Taft-Hartley amendments, Congress intended to require of unions the same standard of good faith in collective bargaining that it had already required of employers. P. 361 U. S. 487.

(3) Section 8(b)(3) does not authorize the Board to infer a lack of good faith in bargaining on the part of a union solely because the union resorts to tactics designed to exert economic pressure during the negotiations. Pp. 361 U. S. 488-490.

(4) The use of economic pressure is not inconsistent with the duty of bargaining in good faith, and the Board is not empowered under § 8(b)(3) to distinguish among various union economic chanrobles.com-red

Page 361 U. S. 478

weapons and to brand those here involved inconsistent with good faith collective bargaining. Pp. 361 U. S. 490-496.

(a) A different conclusion is not required on the theory that a total strike is a concerted activity protected against employer interference by §§ 7 and 8(a)(1) of the Act, whereas the activity here involved is not a protected concerted activity. Even if an activity is not protected against disciplinary action, that does not necessarily mean that it amounts to a refusal to bargain in good faith. Pp. 361 U. S. 492-495.

(b) A different conclusion is not required on the theory that, because an orthodox "total" strike is "traditional," its use must be taken as being consistent with § 8(b)(3); whereas the tactics here involved are not "traditional" or "normal," and therefore need not be so viewed. Pp. 361 U. S. 495-496.

(5) To construe § 8(b)(3) as authorizing the Board to act as an arbiter of the sort of economic weapons the parties can use in seeking to gain acceptance of their bargaining demands would inject the Board into the substantive aspects of the bargaining process to an extent that Congress did not intend and has not authorized. Pp. 361 U. S. 496-500.

104 U.S.App.D.C. 218, 260 F.2d 736, affirmed.


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