Algoma Plywood v. Wisconsin Board
336 U.S. 301 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Algoma Plywood v. Wisconsin Board, 336 U.S. 301 (1949)

Algoma Plywood & Veneer Co. v. Wisconsin Relations Board

No. 216

Argued November 18, 1948

Decided March 7, 1949

336 U.S. 301


In 1942, the National Labor Relations Board certified a union as bargaining representative for employees of a manufacturer producing goods for interstate commerce. In 1943, under pressure from the Department of Labor and the War Labor Board, the employer agreed to a "maintenance of membership" clause in its contract with the union, which was extended from year to year to April, 1947. In January, 1947, an employee was discharged for refusal to pay union dues, and filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Board charging violation of Wis.Stat. § 111.06(1)(c)1, which, in effect, forbids enforcement of a "maintenance of membership" clause unless the contract containing it is approved by two-thirds of the employees in a referendum conducted by the State Board. No such referendum had been conducted for these employees. The State Board ordered the manufacturer to cease and desist from giving effect to the maintenance of membership clause, to offer the employee reinstatement, and to reimburse him for loss of pay.

Held: the order is not in conflict with the National Labor Relations Act or the Labor Management Relations Act. Pp. 336 U. S. 303-315.

1. The State Board was not deprived of power to issue its order by § 10(a) of the National Labor Relations Act, which grants the National Board exclusive power to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice listed in § 8. Pp. 336 U. S. 305-307.

2. Nor was it deprived of power to issue its order by § 8(3), which forbids employers to encourage or discourage membership in a union, but provides that nothing in the Act or any other federal statute shall preclude an employer from making an agreement with a union to require membership therein as a condition of employment if the union is the bargaining representative of the employees. Pp. 336 U. S. 307-312.

(a) This conclusion is supported by the language and legislative history of § 8(3). Pp. 336 U. S. 307-310.

(b) It is not in conflict with any ruling by the courts or the National Labor Relations Board. P. 336 U. S. 310.

Page 336 U. S. 302

(c) Nor is it in conflict with the administrative practice of the War Labor Board in prescribing "maintenance of membership" clauses to settle wartime disputes, since that practice was based upon the war powers, rather than upon § 8(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, and the War Labor Board had ceased to exist when the State Board issued it order. Pp. 336 U. S. 310-312.

3. Nor does the state statute or the State Board's action thereunder conflict with § 10(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act. Pp. 336 U. S. 313-314.

4. The certification of the union by the National Board did not oust the State Board from jurisdiction to enjoin practices forbidden by state law and not governed by federal law. Pp. 336 U. S. 314-315.

252 Wis. 549, 32 N.W.2d 417, affirmed.

The Wisconsin Employment Relations Board ordered an employer to cease and desist from giving effect to a "maintenance of membership" clause in a contract with a union certified by the National Labor Relations Board as the collective bargaining representative of its employees and to reimburse for loss of pay an employee who had been discharged for refusal to pay union dues. A state circuit court modified the order by striking the award of back pay, but otherwise affirmed it. 14 Labor Cases (C.C.H.) No. 64,253. The State Supreme Court sustained the order as originally issued. 252 Wis. 549, 32 N.W.2d 417. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 812. Affirmed., p. 336 U. S. 315.

Page 336 U. S. 303

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