NLRB v. Pipefitters
Annotate this Case
429 U.S. 507 (1977)
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U.S. Supreme Court
NLRB v. Pipefitters, 429 U.S. 507 (1977)
National Labor Relations Board v. Enterprise Association of
Steam, Hot Water, Hydraulic Sprinkler, Pneumatic Tube, Ice
Machine & General Pipefitters of New York
and Vicinity, Local Union No. 638
Argued October 6, 1976
Decided February 22, 1977
429 U.S. 507
A subcontractor (Hudik) had a subcontract with a general contractor (Austin) for the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning work in the construction of a home for the aged. The subcontract job specifications provided that Austin would purchase certain climate control units manufactured by Slant/Fin Corp. to be installed in the home, and that the internal piping in these units was to be cut, threaded, and installed at the Slant/Fin factory. However, the collective bargaining agreement between respondent union and Hudik provided that pipe threading and cutting were to be performed on the jobsite. When the units arrived on the job, the union steamfitters employed by Hudik refused, at the union's instigation, to install them on the ground that the factory-installed internal piping violated the collective bargaining agreement, and was steamfitters' work. Austin then filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that the union had committed an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4)(B) of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes it an unfair labor practice for a union to induce employees to refuse to handle particular goods or products or coerce any person, where "an object" of the inducement or coercion is to require any person to cease doing business with any other person, provided that the section shall not be construed to make unlawful any primary strike or primary picketing. Specifically, Austin charged that the union's action was taken to force Hudik to cease doing business with Austin and to force Hudik and Austin to cease dealing with Slant/Fin's products. The Administrative Law Judge held that the union had violated § 8(b)(4)(B) because, in seeking to enforce the collective bargaining agreement and to obtain the work, the union's object was in reality to influence Austin by exerting pressure on Hudik, an employer who had no power to award the work to the union. The NLRB agreed, noting that, although the union's refusal to install the climate control units was based on a valid
work preservation clause in the collective bargaining agreement, the pressure exerted by the union on Hudik was undertaken for its effect on other employers, and thus was secondary and prohibited by § 8(b)(4)(B). The Court of Appeals set aside the NLRB's cease and desist order, disagreeing with the NLRB on both legal and factual grounds.
Held: The union's refusal to install the climate control units was secondary activity prohibited by § 8(b)(4)(B), rather than primary activity beyond the reach of that provision. Pp. 429 U. S. 514-532.
(a) The existence of a work preservation agreement is not an adequate defense to a § 8(b)(4)(B) unfair labor practice charge. To hold, as the Court of Appeals did, that a work stoppage is necessarily primary, and not an unfair labor practice when it aims at enforcing a legal promise in a collective bargaining agreement is inconsistent with the statute as construed in Carpenters v. NLRB, 357 U. S. 93 (Sand Door), a construction that was accepted and that has never been abandoned by Congress. Pp. 429 U. S. 514-521.
(b) The Court of Appeals also erred in taking the view that the NLRB's "control" test, under which the union commits an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(4)(B) when it coerces an employer in order to obtain work that the employer has no power to assign, is invalid as a matter of law because it fails to comply with the standard of National Woodwork Mfrs. Assn. v. NLRB, 386 U. S. 612, that the union's conduct be judged in light of all the relevant circumstances. It does not appear that either the Administrative Law Judge or the NLRB, in agreeing with him, articulated a different standard from that recognized as proper in National Woodwork, or that the NLRB, in applying its control test, failed to consider all of the relevant circumstances. Pp. 429 U. S. 521-528.
(c) The record amply supports the NLRB's conclusion that the union's objectives were not confined to the employment relationship with Hudik, but included the object of influencing Austin in a manner prohibited by § 8(b)(4)(B). Pp. 429 U. S. 528-531.
(d) The Court of Appeals was obliged to review the case under the statutory standard of whether the NLRB's findings were "supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole," and thus, in reweighing the facts and setting aside the NLRB's order, the Court of Appeals improperly substituted its own views of the facts for those of the NLRB. Pp. 429 U. S. 531-532.
172 U.S.App.D.C. 225, 521 F.2d 885, reversed.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL REHNQUIST, and STEVENS JJ., joined. BRENNAN,