MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.
In these cases we sustain the validity of collective-bargaining agreements whereby an employer, in determining relative seniority of employment among its employees, gives them credit for pre-employment military service as well as the credit required by statute for post-employment military service.
These proceedings were begun in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky by respondent Huffman, acting individually and on behalf of a class of about 275 fellow employees of the Ford Motor Company, petitioner in Case No. 193 (here called Ford). His complaint is that his position, and that of each member of his class, has been lowered on the seniority roster at Ford's Louisville works, because of certain provisions in collective-bargaining agreements between Ford and the International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America, CIO, petitioner in Case No. 194 (here called International). He contends that those provisions have
The District Court dismissed the action without opinion but said in its order that it was "of the opinion that the collective bargaining agreement expresses an honest desire for the protection of the interests of all members of the union and is not a device of hostility to veterans. The Court finds that said collective bargaining agreement
The pleadings state that Huffman entered the employ of Ford September 23, 1943, was inducted into military service November 18, 1944, was discharged July 1, 1946, and, within 30 days, was reemployed by Ford with seniority dating from September 23, 1943, as provided by statute.
The pleadings allege further that Huffman and the members of his class all have been laid off or furloughed from their respective employments at times and for
The effect of these provisions is that whereas Huffman's seniority, and that of the members of his class, is computed
On the other hand, the second objection raised by respondent was sustained by a majority of the members of the Court of Appeals. This objection was that the authority of International, as a certified bargaining representative, was limited by statute and was exceeded when International agreed to the provisions that are before us.
The authority of every bargaining representative under the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, is stated in broad terms:
In the absence of limiting factors, the above purposes, including "mutual aid or protection" and "other conditions of employment," are broad enough to cover terms of seniority. The National Labor Relations Act, as passed in 1935 and as amended in 1947, exemplifies the faith of Congress in free collective bargaining between employers and their employees when conducted by freely and fairly chosen representatives of appropriate units of employees. That the authority of bargaining representatives, however, is not absolute is recognized in Steele v. Louisville & N. R. Co., 323 U.S. 192, 198-199, in connection with comparable provisions of the Railway Labor Act. Their statutory obligation to represent all members of an appropriate unit requires them to make an honest effort to serve the interests of all of those members, without hostility to any. Id., at 198, 202-204; Tunstall v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen, 323 U.S. 210, 211; Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Howard, 343 U.S. 768.
Any authority to negotiate derives its principal strength from a delegation to the negotiators of a discretion
Compromises on a temporary basis, with a view to long-range advantages, are natural incidents of negotiation. Differences in wages, hours and conditions of employment reflect countless variables. Seniority rules governing promotions, transfers, layoffs and similar matters may, in the first instance, revolve around length of competent service. Variations acceptable in the discretion of bargaining representatives, however, may well include differences
The National Labor Relations Act, as amended, gives a bargaining representative not only wide responsibility but authority to meet that responsibility. We have held that a collective-bargaining representative is within its authority when, in the general interest of those it represents, it agrees to allow union chairmen certain advantages in the retention of their employment, even to the prejudice of veterans otherwise entitled to greater seniority. Aeronautical Lodge v. Campbell, supra, at 526-529.
The public policy and fairness inherent in crediting employees with time spent in military service in time of war or national emergency is so clear that Congress, in the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, required some credit to be given for it in computing seniority both in governmental and in private employment. See note 5, supra. Congress there prescribed that employees who left their private civilian employment to enter military service should receive seniority credit for such military service, provided their prior civilian employment, however brief, was bona fide and not on a temporary basis. There is little that justifies giving such a substantial benefit to a veteran with brief prior civilian employment that does not equally justify giving it to a veteran who was inducted into military service before having a chance to enter any civilian employment, or to a veteran who never worked
The above considerations took concrete form in the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 which added the requirement that credit for military service be given by every civilian federal agency, whether the military service preceded or followed civilian employment.
The provisions before us reflect such a policy.
The provisions before us are within reasonable bounds of relevancy. They extended but slightly, during a period of war and emergency, the acceptance of credits for military service under circumstances where comparable credit already was required, by statute, in favor of all who had been regularly employed by Ford before entering military service. These provisions conform to the recommendation of responsible Government officials and round out a statutory requirement which, unless so rounded out, produces discriminations of its own. A failure to adopt these provisions might have resulted in
The several briefs of amici curiae, filed here by consent of all parties, demonstrate the widespread acceptance and relevance of the type of provisions before us.
We hold that International, as a collective-bargaining representative, had authority to accept these provisions. Accordingly, we find no ground sufficient to establish the invalidity of the provisions before us or to sustain an injunction against either petitioner. In accord: Haynes v. United Chemical Workers, 190 Tenn. 165, 228 S.W.2d 101.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals which reversed that of the District Court therefore is reversed. The judgment of the District Court is affirmed and the cause is remanded to it.
Reversed and remanded.
"(b) In the case of any such person who, in order to perform such training and service, has left or leaves a position, other than a temporary position, in the employ of any employer and who (1) receives such certificate [of satisfactory completion of his period of training and service], (2) is still qualified to perform the duties of such position, and (3) makes application for reemployment within ninety days after he is relieved from such training and service . . .
"(B) if such position was in the employ of a private employer, such employer shall restore such person to such position or to a position of like seniority, status, and pay unless the employer's circumstances have so changed as to make it impossible or unreasonable to do so; . . . ." 54 Stat. 890, 58 Stat. 798, 50 U. S. C. App. § 308 (b) (B).
"Section 13— . . . .
"(c) Any veteran of World War II who was not employed by any person or company at the time of his entry into the service of the land or naval forces or the Merchant Marine and who is a citizen of the United States and served with the allies and who has been honorably discharged from such training and service and who is hired by the company after he is relieved from training and service in the land or naval forces or after completion of service in the Merchant Marine shall, upon having been employed for six (6) months and not before, receive seniority credit for the period of such service subsequent to June 21, 1941, provided:
"(1) Such veteran must apply for employment within ninety (90) days from the time he is relieved from such training or service in the land or naval forces or the time of his completion of such service in the Merchant Marine, and must obtain such employment within twelve (12) months from the time he is relieved from such training and service in the land or naval forces or the time of his completion of such service in the Merchant Marine.
"(2) Such veteran shall not have previously exercised his right in any plant of this or any other company.
"(3) A veteran so employed shall submit his service discharge papers to the company at the end of aforesaid probationary period of employment and the company shall place thereon in permanent form a statement showing that the veteran has exercised this right, such statement to be signed by representatives of the company and the Union, and a copy thereof placed in the employee's record and a copy furnished to the Union.
"(d) It is further understood and agreed that, regardless of any of the foregoing, all veterans in the [employ] of the company at the time the Contract is thus amended shall receive seniority credit for their period of service, subsequent to June 21, 1941 in the land or naval forces or Merchant Marine of the United States or its allies, upon completion of their probationary period." (Emphasis supplied.)
The above provisions were continued in effect, in substantially identical form, in an agreement of August 21, 1947. An agreement of September 28, 1949, provided:
"Section 12. . . .
"(c) Any employee who, prior to the effective date of this Agreement, has received the seniority credit provided for in Article VIII, Section 13 (c) or (d) of the Agreement between the Company and the Union dated August 21, 1947, or the comparable provision in the Supplementary Agreement between the Company and the Union dated July 30, 1946, shall continue to receive such seniority credit."
"61. Veteran Not Previously Employed Given Seniority Credit for Time Spent in Armed Forces.
"Any veteran of World War II who has been discharged, other than dishonorably, from the armed forces of the United States and who immediately prior to his acceptance in the armed forces was not previously employed by [name of company] and who is employed by [name of company] within twelve (12) months after his discharge, provided it is his first place of employment after his discharge, shall take his place on the seniority list after completing the sixty (60) day trial period. His seniority shall be computed from the day of his acceptance into the armed forces. However, no veteran covered by this section shall have seniority prior to December 7, 1941." P. 13.