NLRB v. Financial Inst. Employees
475 U.S. 192 (1986)

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U.S. Supreme Court

NLRB v. Financial Inst. Employees, 475 U.S. 192 (1986)

National Labor Relations Board v. Financial Institution

Employees of America, Local 1182, Chartered by United Food

& Commercial Workers International Union, AFL-CIO

No. 84-1493

Argued December 4, 1985

Decided February 26, 1986*

475 U.S. 192

Syllabus

In 1970, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) certified the Firstbank Independent Employees Association (Firstbank) as the collective bargaining representative of a bargaining unit consisting of the employees of Seattle-First National Bank (SeaFirst), and successive collective bargaining agreements were negotiated. In 1978, in an election in which only union members were allowed to vote, Firstbank voted to affiliate with an international union and changed its name to the Financial Institution Employees of America, Local 1182 (FIEA). FIEA then petitioned the Board to amend its certification to reflect this change. After initially granting the petition and holding that SeaFirst had committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to recognize the amended certification or to bargain with FIEA, the Board, on reconsideration, held that, because nonunion employees were not allowed to vote in the affiliation election, the election did not meet minimal "due process" standards, and that therefore the affiliation was invalid. Accordingly, the Board dismissed FIEA's unfair labor practice charge and vacated the amended certification. The Court of Appeals granted FIEA's petition for review of the Board's decision and remanded the case, holding that the Board's requirement that nonunion employees be allowed to vote on affiliation questions was irrational and inconsistent with the National Labor Relations Act (Act).

Held: The Board exceeded its authority under the Act in requiring that nonunion employees be allowed to vote for affiliation before it would order the employer to bargain with the affiliated union. Pp. 475 U. S. 198-209.

(a) Such requirement dramatically changes the scheme under which the Board's practice has been to grant an independent union's petition to

Page 475 U. S. 193

amend the union's certification to reflect a name change resulting from affiliation with a national or international union if the Board found that union members had an adequate opportunity to vote on affiliation and that there was substantial "continuity" between the preaffiliation and postaffiliation union. Pp. 475 U. S. 198-201.

(b) Under the Act, the certified union must be recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative of all employees in the bargaining unit, and the Board cannot discontinue that recognition without determining that the affiliation of that union with another union raises a question of representation and, if so, conducting an election to decide whether the certified union is still the choice of a majority of the unit. Here, by refusing either to amend FIEA's certification or to order SeaFirst to bargain, the Board effectively circumvented the decertification procedures provided for by the Act. Moreover, the Board's requirement that nonunion employees be allowed to vote in the affiliation election violated the policy Congress incorporated into the Act against outside interference in union decisionmaking. Pp. 475 U. S. 201-204.

(c) Employees' dissatisfaction with representation is not a reason for requiring the union to allow nonunion employees to vote on union matters like affiliation. Rather, the Act allows union members to control the shape and direction of the union. Dissatisfaction with the decision union members make may be tested by a Board-conducted representation election only if it is unclear whether the recognized union retains majority support. Any distinction between affiliation and other changes in a union's organization and structure does not justify the Board's meddling in the union's internal affairs. Pp. 475 U. S. 205-208.

(d) The Board's new rule contravenes the Act's assumption that stable bargaining relationships are best maintained by allowing an affiliated union to continue representing a bargaining unit unless the Board finds that the affiliation raises a question of representation. Such rule effectively gives the employer the power to veto an independent union's decision to affiliate, thereby allowing the employer to interfere directly with union decisionmaking that Congress intended to insulate from outside interference. Pp. 475 U. S. 208-209.

752 F.2d 356, affirmed and remanded.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ.,

Page 475 U. S. 194

joined. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 475 U. S. 210.

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