Pattern Makers v. NLRB,
473 U.S. 95 (1985)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pattern Makers v. NLRB, 473 U.S. 95 (1985)

Pattern Makers' League of North America, AFL-CIO v. NLRB,

No. 83-1894

Argued February 27, 1985

Reargued April 22, 1985

Decided June 27, 1985

473 U.S. 95


Petitioner national labor union's constitution provides that resignations from the union are not permitted during a strike. The union fined 10 members who, in violation of this provision, resigned during a strike by petitioner local unions and returned to work. Respondent employer representative thereafter filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (Board), claiming that such levying of fines constituted an unfair labor practice under § 8(b)(1)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes it an unfair labor practice for a union to restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their § 7 rights. The Board agreed, and the Court of Appeals enforced the Board's order.

Held: In related cases this Court has invariably yielded to Board decisions on whether fines imposed by a union "restrained or coerced" employees. Moreover, the Board has consistently construed § 8(b)(1)(A) as prohibiting the fining of employees who have resigned from a union contrary to a restriction in the union constitution. Therefore, the Board's decision in this case is entitled to this Court's deference. Pp. 473 U. S. 100-116.

(a) The Board was justified in concluding that, by restricting the right of employees to resign, the provision in question impaired the congressional policy of voluntary unionism implicit in § 8(a)(3) of the Act. Pp. 473 U. S. 104-107.

(b) The proviso to § 8(b)(1)(A), which states that nothing in § 8(b) (1)(A) shall

"impair the right of a labor organization to prescribe its own rules with respect to the acquisition or retention of membership therein,"

was intended to protect union rules involving admission and expulsion, and not to allow unions to make rules restricting the right to resign. Accordingly, the Board properly concluded that the provision in question is not a "rule with respect to the retention of membership." Pp. 473 U. S. 108-110.

(c) The legislative history does not support petitioners' contention that Congress did not intend to protect the right of union members to resign. Pp. 473 U. S. 110-112.

Page 473 U. S. 96

(d) No is there any merit to petitioners' argument that, because the common law does not prohibit restrictions on resignation, the provision in question does not violate § 8(b)(1)(A). Pp. 473 U. S. 112-114.

724 F.2d 57, affirmed.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, REHNQUIST, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 473 U. S. 116. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 473 U. S. 117. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 473 U. S. 133.

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