MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
The National Labor Relations Act makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer to refuse to bargain in good faith with the representative of his employees.
The dispute here arose when a union representing certain of respondent's employees asked for a wage increase of 10 cents per hour. The company answered that it could not afford to pay such an increase, it was undercapitalized, had never paid dividends, and that an increase of more than 2 1/2 cents per hour would put it out of business. The union asked the company to produce some evidence substantiating these statements, requesting permission to have a certified public accountant examine the company's books, financial data, etc. This request being denied, the union asked that the company submit "full and complete information with respect to its financial standing and profits," insisting that such information was pertinent and essential for the employees to determine whether or not they should continue to press their demand for a wage increase. A union official testified before the trial examiner that "[W]e were wanting anything relating to the Company's position, any records or what have you, books, accounting sheets, cost expenditures, what not, anything to back the Company's position that they were unable to give any more money." The company refused all the requests, relying solely on the statement that "the information . . . is not pertinent to
On the basis of these facts the National Labor Relations Board found that the company had "failed to bargain in good faith with respect to wages in violation of Section 8 (a) (5) of the Act." 110 N. L. R. B. 856. The Board ordered the company to supply the union with such information as would "substantiate the Respondent's position of its economic inability to pay the requested wage increase." The Court of Appeals refused to enforce the Board's order, agreeing with respondent that it could not be held guilty of an unfair labor practice because of its refusal to furnish the information requested by the union. 224 F.2d 869. In Labor Board v. Jacobs Mfg. Co., 196 F.2d 680, the Second Circuit upheld a Board finding of bad-faith bargaining based on an employer's refusal to supply financial information under circumstances similar to those here. Because of the conflict and the importance of the question we granted certiorari. 350 U.S. 922.
The company raised no objection to the Board's order on the ground that the scope of information required was too broad or that disclosure would put an undue burden on the company. Its major argument throughout has been that the information requested was irrelevant to the bargaining process and related to matters exclusively within the province of management. Thus we lay to one side the suggestion by the company here that the Board's order might be unduly burdensome or injurious to its business. In any event, the Board has heretofore taken the position in cases such as this that "It is sufficient if the information is made available in a manner not so burdensome or time-consuming as to impede the process of bargaining."
We think that in determining whether the obligation of good-faith bargaining has been met the Board has a right to consider an employer's refusal to give information about its financial status. While Congress did not compel agreement between employers and bargaining representatives, it did require collective bargaining in the hope that agreements would result. Section 204 (a) (1) of the Act admonishes both employers and employees to "exert every reasonable effort to make and maintain agreements concerning rates of pay, hours, and working conditions. . . ."
Good-faith bargaining necessarily requires that claims made by either bargainer should be honest claims. This is true about an asserted inability to pay an increase in wages. If such an argument is important enough to present
The Board concluded that under the facts and circumstances of this case the respondent was guilty of an unfair labor practice in failing to bargain in good faith. We see no reason to disturb the findings of the Board. We do not hold, however, that in every case in which economic inability is raised as an argument against increased wages it automatically follows that the employees are entitled to substantiating evidence. Each case must turn upon its particular facts.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, whom MR. JUSTICE CLARK and MR. JUSTICE HARLAN join, concurring in part and dissenting in part.
This case involves the nature of the duty to bargain which the National Labor Relations Act imposes upon employers and unions. Section 8 (a) (5) of the Act makes it "an unfair labor practice for an employer . . . to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees," and § 8 (b) (3) places a like duty upon the union vis-a-vis the employer. Section 8(d) provides that "to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement, or any question arising thereunder, and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party, but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession . . . ." 61 Stat. 142, 29 U. S. C. § 158 (d).
These sections obligate the parties to make an honest effort to come to terms; they are required to try to reach an agreement in good faith. "Good faith" means more than merely going through the motions of negotiating; it is inconsistent with a predetermined resolve not to budge from an initial position. But it is not necessarily
An examination of the Board's opinion and the position taken by its counsel here disclose that the Board did not so conceive the issue of good-faith bargaining in this case. The totality of the conduct of the negotiation was apparently deemed irrelevant to the question; one fact alone disposed of the case. "[I]t is settled law [the Board concluded], that when an employer seeks to justify the refusal of a wage increase upon an economic basis, as did the Respondent herein, good-faith bargaining under the Act requires that upon request the employer attempt to substantiate its economic position by reasonable proof." 110 N. L. R. B. 856.
This is to make a rule of law out of one item—even if a weighty item—of the evidence. There is no warrant for this. The Board found authority in Labor Board v. Jacobs Mfg. Co., 196 F.2d 680. That case presented a very different situation. The Jacobs Company had engaged in a course of conduct which the Board held to be a violation of § 8 (a) (5). The Court of Appeals agreed that in light of the whole record the Board was entitled to find that the employer had not bargained in good faith. Its refusal to open its "books and sales records" for union
The Labor Board itself has not always approached "good faith" and the disclosure question in such a mechanical fashion. In Southern Saddlery Co., 90 N. L. R. B. 1205, the Board also found that § 8 (a) (5)
The Board found other factors in the Southern Saddlery case. The employer had made no counter-proposals or efforts to "compromise the controversy." Compare, McLean-Arkansas Lumber Co., Inc., 109 N. L. R. B. 1022. Such specific evidence is not indispensable for a study of all the evidence in a record may disclose a mood indicative of a determination not to bargain. That is for the Board to decide. It is a process of inference-drawing, however, very different from the ultra vires law-making of the Board in this case.
Since the Board applied the wrong standard here, by ruling that Truitt's failure to supply financial information to the union constituted per se a refusal to bargain in good faith, the case should be returned to the Board. There is substantial evidence in the record which indicates that Truitt tried to reach an agreement. It offered a 2 1/2-cent wage increase, it expressed willingness to discuss with the union "at any time the problem of how our wages compare with those of our competition." and it continued throughout to meet and discuss the controversy with the union.
"(5) to refuse to bargain collectively with the representatives of his employees, subject to the provisions of section 9 (a).
"(d) For the purposes of this section, to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement, or any question arising thereunder, and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreement reached if requested by either party, but such obligation does not compel either party to agree to a proposal or require the making of a concession . . . ." 49 Stat. 452-453, as amended, 61 Stat. 140-142, 29 U. S. C. §§ 158 (a) (5), 158 (d).