National Woodwork Mfrs. Assn. v. NLRB,
386 U.S. 612 (1967)

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U.S. Supreme Court

National Woodwork Mfrs. Assn. v. NLRB, 386 U.S. 612 (1967)

National Woodwork Manufacturers Association v.

National Labor Relations Board

No. 110

Argued January 18 and 19, 1967

Decided April 17, 1967*

386 U.S. 612


A general contractor (Frouge) working on a housing project in Philadelphia was subject to a collective bargaining agreement between a local carpenters' union and a general contractors' association in which it was agreed that union members would not handle premachined doors. Frouge, whose contract would have permitted "blank" doors, ordered premachined doors from a manufacturer, a member of the National Woodwork Manufacturers Association (NWMA). When the Union ordered its members not to hang the premachined doors, Frouge substituted "blank" doors, which the carpenters fitted and cut at the jobsite. The NWMA filed charges against the Union with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming that, by including the "will not handle" provision in the collective bargaining agreement and enforcing it, the Union violated two provisions which the Landrum-Griffin Act respectively added to and amended in the National Labor Relations Act -- § 8(e), which makes it an unfair labor practice to enter into an agreement that an employer will refrain from handling the products of another employer, and § 8(b)(4)(B), which makes it an unfair labor practice to force a person to cease using the products of another manufacturer. The NLRB dismissed the charges, adopting its Trial Examiner's findings that the "will not handle" provision had as its object the preservation for jobsite carpenters of cutting out and fitting work which they had customarily performed, and its enforcement against Frouge constituted "primary activity" not prohibited by §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B). The Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal of the § 8(e) charge, concluding that the "will not handle" provision was designed to effect a product boycott like that condemned

Page 386 U. S. 613

in Allen Bradley Co. v. Union, 325 U. S. 797, and the NLRB petitioned for certiorari (No. 111). The court sustained dismissal of the § 8(b)(4)(B) charge, agreeing with the NLRB that the Union's conduct as to Frouge was a primary dispute, and, as such, came within the exemption proviso of Clause (B), and the NWMA petitioned for certiorari (No. 110).


1. Section 8(b)(4)(B) was enacted not to prohibit primary agreements and primary action directed to work preservation, but to prohibit "secondary" objectives, i.e., the exertion of pressure on a neutral employer. Pp. 386 U. S. 619-633.

(a) Congress has stopped short of proscribing activity to pressure the employer for agreements regulating relations between him and his own employees. P. 386 U. S. 620.

(b) The predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B) (the basic thrust of which was not changed by the Landrum-Griffin amendments) was enacted to eliminate the "secondary boycott" designed to injure the business of a third person not concerned in the disagreement between an employer and the union. Pp. 386 U. S. 623-626.

(c) Judicial decisions interpreting the predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B) uniformly limited its application to "secondary" situations, and this Court has consistently refused to read the provision as banning traditional primary labor activity having an impact on neutral employers, even though such activity fell within the literal terms of the provision. Pp. 386 U. S. 626-627.

(d) Allen Bradley Co., supra, distinguished. Pp. 386 U. S. 628-631.

(e) In rewriting the predecessor provision as § 8(b)(4)(B), Congress confirmed the limited application of the section to "secondary" conduct, adding the proviso that nothing therein "shall be construed to make unlawful, where not otherwise unlawful, any primary strike or primary picketing." Pp. 386 U. S. 632-633.

2. Section 8(e) likewise does not reach employees' primary activity, and does not prohibit agreements made to pressure their employer to preserve for themselves work traditionally done by them. Pp. 386 U. S. 633-642.

(a) The addition of § 8(e) to the Act was designed to plug a loophole resulting from Carpenters' Union v. Labor Board (Sand Door), 357 U. S. 93, in which it was stressed that the mere execution of or an employer's voluntary observance of a "hot cargo" clause did not violate the predecessor of § 8(b)(4)(B). Pp. 386 U. S. 634-635.

Page 386 U. S. 614

(b) The legislative history of § 8(e) and provisos preserving the status quo in the construction industry and exempting the garment industry from the prohibitions of §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B) indicate that primary work preservation agreements were not to be within the ban of § 8(e). Pp. 386 U. S. 635-642.

3. Substantial evidence supported the Trial Examiner's finding, adopted by the NLRB, that the "will not handle" provision was designed to preserve work traditionally performed by jobsite carpenters, and that the Union's making of the "will not handle" agreement and its maintenance thereof did not, respectively, violate §§ 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B). Pp. 386 U. S. 645-646.

354 F.2d 594, affirmed in No. 110 and reversed in No. 111.

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