NLRB v. Int'l Longshoremen's Assn.,
473 U.S. 61 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

NLRB v. Int'l Longshoremen's Assn., 473 U.S. 61 (1985)

National Labor Relations Board v.

International Longshoremen's Assn.

No. 84-861

Argued April 23, 1985

Decided June 27, 1985

473 U.S. 61


The Rules on Containers (Rules) require that some cargo containers owned or leased by marine shipping companies that otherwise would be loaded or unloaded within the local port area (defined as anywhere within a 50-mile radius of the port) instead must be loaded or unloaded by longshoremen at the pier. These Rules were collectively bargained for by respondent union after the advent of "containerization" had drastically reduced the amount of longshoremen's on-pier work involved in cargo handling. In this case, the National Labor Relations Board (Board) held that the Rules constituted unlawful secondary activity under §§ 8(b) (4)(B) and 8(e) of the National Labor Relations Act when applied to containers destined for "shortstopping" truckers (truckers who stop in the vicinity of a pier to load and unload cargo for reasons related to trucking requirements) and "traditional" warehousers (warehousers who perform loading and unloading of cargo at the warehouse for reasons unrelated to marine transportation). The Board reasoned that, because the Rules, as so applied, sought to preserve longshoremen's work that had been "eliminated" by containerization, the Rules had "an illegal work acquisition objective." The Court of Appeals refused to enforce the Board's decision, holding that the Board had failed to make any factual finding that the Rules actually operated to deprive "shortstopping" truckers or "traditional" warehousers of any work, and that, as a matter of law, an agreement that preserves duplicative or technologically "eliminated" work does not constitute unlawful "work acquisition."

Held: The Board's partial invalidation of the Rules as applied in the contexts in question is inconsistent with National Woodwork Manufacturers Assn. v. NLRB, 386 U. S. 612, and NLRB v. Longshoremen, 447 U. S. 490 (ILA I). Pp. 473 U. S. 73-84.

(a) National Woodwork, supra, concluded that §§ 8(b)(4)(B) and 8(e) were intended by Congress to "reach only secondary pressures," and that agreements negotiated with the objective of preserving work in the face of a threat to union members' jobs are lawful primary activity. These conclusions were reaffirmed in NLRB v. Pipefitters, 429 U. S. 507, and ILA I, supra. Pp. 473 U. S. 74-78.

Page 473 U. S. 62

(b) By focusing on the effect that the Rules might have on "shortstopping" truckers and "traditional" warehousers, the Board contravened this Court's direction in ILA I, supra, at 447 U. S. 507, n. 22, that such extra-unit effects, "no matter how severe," are "irrelevant" to the analysis. Given the Rules' primary objective to preserve longshoremen's work in the face of a threat to jobs, extra-unit effects of a work preservation agreement alone provide an insufficient basis for concluding that the agreement has an unlawful secondary objective. 473 U. S. 78-9.

(c) The Board misconstrued this Court's cases in suggesting that "eliminated work" can never be the object of a work preservation agreement. "Elimination" of work, in the sense that it is made unnecessary by innovation, is not, of itself, a reason to condemn work preservation agreements under §§ 8(b)(4)(B) and 8(e); to the contrary, such elimination provides the very premise for such agreements. The relevant inquiry is whether a union's activity is primary or secondary, and no talismanic tests may substitute for analysis. When the objective of an agreement and its enforcement is so clearly one of work preservation, as is the one involved here, the lawfulness of the agreement under §§ 8(b)(4)(B) and 8(e) is secure, absent some other evidence of secondary purpose. Pp. 473 U. S. 80-82.

(c) The Rules are a lawful work preservation agreement, and nothing in the record of this case suggests a conclusion that their enforcement has had a secondary, rather than a primary, objective. P. 473 U. S. 84.

734 F.2d 966, affirmed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 473 U. S. 84.

Page 473 U. S. 63

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