NLRB v. ACME Industrial Co. - 385 U.S. 432 (1967)
U.S. Supreme Court
NLRB v. ACME Industrial Co., 385 U.S. 432 (1967)
National Labor Relations Board v. ACME Industrial Co.
Argued November 14, 1966
Decided January 9, 1967
385 U.S. 432
A collective bargaining agreement, which contained procedures for processing grievances culminating in compulsory and binding arbitration, provided that it was the respondent, employer's, policy not to "subcontract work which is normally performed by employees in the bargaining unit," and that, except as provided therein, if
"equipment of the plant . . . is hereafter moved to another location of the Company, employees . . . who are subject to reduction in classification or layoff as a result thereof may transfer to the new location with full rights and seniority. . . ."
During the contract term, certain machinery was removed from the plant and, in response to the union's query, respondent stated that there was no violation of the agreement, and therefore no obligation to answer questions about the machines. The union filed grievances and requested information concerning the equipment, which was refused by respondent. Unfair labor practice charges were then filed with the NLRB, which held that respondent violated § 8(a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. by refusing to bargain in good faith. The NLRB issued a cease-and-desist order after finding that the information was necessary to enable the union to evaluate the grievances filed, and noting that the agreement contained no waiver of the union's statutory right to such information. The Court of Appeals refused to enforce the NLRB's order, holding that the provision for binding arbitration foreclosed the NLRB's exercise of power, as the construction and application of the contract provisions are solely for the arbitrator.
Held: The arbitration provision in the agreement did not preclude the NLRB from finding that respondent violated § 8 (a)(5) by refusing to furnish the union with information necessary to the proper performance of its representative duties. Pp. 385 U. S. 435-439.
(a) The employer has a general obligation to provide information needed by the bargaining representative for the proper performance of its duties during the term of a collective bargaining agreement. Pp. 385 U. S. 435-436.
(b) The NLRB did not make a binding construction of the contract, but only acted on the probability that the desired information was relevant and useful to the union in carrying out its statutory duties and responsibilities. P. 385 U. S. 437.
(c) The NLRB's action was in aid of the arbitral process by helping to sift out unmeritorious claims. P. 385 U. S. 438.
351 F. 2d 258, reversed and remanded.