MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.
The National Labor Relations Board ordered the Consolidated Edison Company of New York and its affiliated companies to desist from certain labor practices
The Board, in response to the motion, asserted its willingness to participate in an investigation to ascertain whether acts in violation of the decree had been committed and suggested that the court direct such investigation as might be deemed appropriate.
The Court of Appeals denied the application upon the ground that petitioner had "no standing to press a charge of civil contempt, if contempt has been committed." The court held that under the National Labor Relations Act "the Board is the proper party to apply to the court for an order of enforcement and to present to the court charges that the court's order has not been obeyed." 106 F.2d 991. In view of the importance of the question in relation to the proper administration of the National Labor Relations Act, we granted certiorari. 308 U.S. 541.
Petitioner contends that the National Labor Relations Act
Petitioner invokes the statement in § 1 of the Act of "findings and policy," with respect to the effect of the denial by employers of the right of employees to organize and to bargain collectively, and in particular the provision of § 7
"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities, for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection."
Neither this provision, nor any other provision of the Act, can properly be said to have "created" the right of self-organization or of collective bargaining through representatives of the employees' own choosing. In National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 33, 34, we observed that this right is a fundamental one; that employees "have as clear a right to organize and select their representatives for lawful purposes" as the employer has "to organize its business and select its own officers and agents"; that discrimination and coercion "to prevent the free exercise of the right of employees to self-organization and representation" was a proper subject for condemnation by competent legislative authority. We noted that "long ago"
To attain its object Congress created a particular agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and established a special procedure. The aim, character and scope of that special procedure are determinative of the question now before us. Within the range of its constitutional power, Congress was entitled to determine what remedy it would provide, the way that remedy should be sought, the extent to which it should be afforded, and the means by which it should be made effective.
Congress declared that certain labor practices should be unfair, but it prescribed a particular method by which such practices should be ascertained and prevented. By the express terms of the Act, the Board was made the exclusive agency for that purpose. Section 10 (a) provides:
"The Board is empowered, as hereinafter provided, to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice (listed in section 8) affecting commerce. This power shall be exclusive, and shall not be affected by any other means of adjustment or prevention that has been or may be established by agreement, code, law, or otherwise."
The Act then sets forth a definite and restricted course of procedure. A charge of an unfair labor practice may
So far, it is apparent that Congress has entrusted to the Board exclusively the prosecution of the proceeding by its own complaint, the conduct of the hearing, the adjudication and the granting of appropriate relief. The Board as a public agency acting in the public interest, not any private person or group, not any employee or group of employees, is chosen as the instrument to assure protection from the described unfair conduct in order to remove obstructions to interstate commerce.
When the Board has made its order, the Board alone is authorized to take proceedings to enforce it. For that purpose the Board is empowered to petition the Circuit Court of Appeals for a decree of enforcement. The court
What Congress said at the outset, that the power of the Board to prevent any unfair practice as defined in the Act is exclusive, is thus fully carried out at every stage of the proceeding. The text of the Act is so clear in this respect that there is no need to comment upon its legislative history. But this puts in a strong light the
"Section 10 (a) gives the National Labor Relations Board exclusive jurisdiction to prevent and redress unfair labor practices, and, taken in conjunction with section 14, establishes clearly that this bill is paramount over other laws that might touch upon similar subject matters. Thus it is intended to dispel the confusion resulting from dispersion of authority and to establish a single paramount administrative or quasi-judicial authority in connection with the development of the Federal American law regarding collective bargaining."
And the Committee on Labor of the House of Representatives in its report stated:
"The Board is empowered, according to the procedure provided in section 10, to prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice listed in section 8 `affecting commerce', as that term is defined in section 2 (7). This power is vested exclusively in the Board and is not to be affected by any other means of adjustment or prevention. The Board is thus made the paramount agency for dealing with the unfair labor practices described in the bill."
After referring to the suitable adaptation of the Board's orders to the needs of particular cases, and especially to the power to reinstate employees with or without back pay, the Committee continued:
"No private right of action is contemplated. Essentially the unfair labor practices listed are matters of public concern, by their nature and consequences, present or potential; the proceeding is in the name of the Board, upon the Board's formal complaint. The form of injunctive
In both Houses of Congress, the Committees were careful to say that the procedure provided by the bill was analogous to that set up by the Federal Trade Commission Act, § 5,
"Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act does not provide private persons with an administrative remedy for private wrongs. The formal complaint is brought in the Commission's name; the prosecution is wholly that of the Government; and it bears the entire expense of the prosecution. A person who deems himself aggrieved by the use of an unfair method of competition is not given the right to institute before the Commission a complaint against the alleged wrongdoer. Nor may the Commission authorize him to do so. He may of course bring the matter to the Commission's attention and request it to file a complaint. But a denial of his request is final. And if the request is granted and a proceeding is instituted, he does not become a party to it or have any control over it."
That sort of procedure concerning unfair competition was contrasted with that provided by the Interstate Commerce Act in relation to unjust discrimination. We said that "in their bearing upon private rights" they are "wholly dissimilar." The Interstate Commerce Act imposes
As Congress has in this instance created a public agency entrusted by the terms of its creation with the exclusive authority for the enforcement of the provisions of the Act, decisions dealing with the legal obligations arising under the Railway Labor Act
We think that the provision of the National Labor Relations Act conferring exclusive power upon the Board to prevent any unfair labor practice, as defined, — a power not affected by any other means of "prevention that has been or may be established by agreement, code, law, or otherwise" — necessarily embraces exclusive authority to institute proceedings for the violation of the court's decree directing enforcement. The decree in no way alters, but confirms, the position of the Board as the enforcing authority. It is the Board's order on behalf of the public that the court enforces. It is the Board's right to make that order that the court sustains. The Board seeks enforcement as a public agent, not to give effect to a "private administrative remedy." Both the order and the decree are aimed at the prevention of the
The order of the Court of Appeals denying petitioner's motion is
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY took no part in the consideration and decision of this cause.