MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents two principal questions: (1) whether, in the collective-bargaining contract before us, the union's undertaking "to refrain from engaging in any strike or work stoppage during the term of this agreement" waives not only the employees' right to strike for economic benefits but also their right to strike solely against unfair labor practices of their employers, and (2) whether § 8 (d) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended,
Mastro Plastics Corp. and French-American Reeds Manufacturing Co., Inc., petitioners herein, are New York corporations which, in 1949 and 1950, were engaged in interstate commerce, manufacturing, selling and distributing plastic articles, including reeds and other accessories for musical instruments. They operated in the City of New York within the same plant, under the same management and with the same employees. For collective bargaining, their employees were represented by Local 22045, American Federation of Labor, or by Local 3127, United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, AFL. These locals occupied the same office and used the services of the same representatives. During the period in question, the right of representation of petitioners' employees was transferred back and forth between them for reasons not material here. Accordingly, they are referred to in this opinion as the "Carpenters."
In August 1950, Local 65 of the Wholesale and Warehouse Workers Union began a campaign among petitioners' employees in an effort to become their collective-bargaining representative. Petitioners bitterly opposed the movement, believing Local 65 to be Communist-controlled. Feeling that the Carpenters were too weak to cope successfully with Local 65, petitioners asked the Carpenters to transfer their bargaining rights to Local 318, International Brotherhood of Pulp, Sulphite and Paper Mill Workers, AFL. When the Carpenters declined to do so, petitioners selected a committee of employees to visit 318, obtain membership cards and seek members for that union. The cards were distributed during working hours and petitioners paid their employees for time spent in the campaign, including attendance at a meeting of 318. Petitioners' officers and supervisors instructed
September 28, Local 65 filed with the National Labor Relations Board its petition for certification as bargaining representative. October 24, Local 318 intervened in the representation proceedings and asked that it be certified. However, many employees revoked their applications for membership in 318 and reaffirmed their adherence to the Carpenters. This was followed on October 31 by the Carpenters' refusal to consent to an election on the ground that petitioners had unlawfully assisted 318 in the campaign.
November 10, 1950, a crisis developed when the president of petitioners summarily discharged Frank Ciccone, an employee of over four years' standing, because of the latter's activity in support of the Carpenters and his opposition to 318. We accept the finding of the National Labor Relations Board that petitioners "discriminatorily discharged, and thereafter refused to reinstate, Frank Ciccone because of his organizational activities in support of the . . . [Carpenters]."
While the strike against petitioners' unfair labor practices continued, the collective-bargaining contract between petitioners and the Carpenters approached its expiration date of November 30, 1950, and, apart from the above-described organizational controversy, the Carpenters had taken timely steps to secure modification of their agreement. October 10, they had delivered to petitioners a notice (dated September 29, 1950) "requesting modification" of the contract.
Petitioners' other principal defense was that the existing strike began during the statutory waiting period initiated by the employees' request for modification of the contract and that, by virtue of § 8 (d) of the Act,
The trial examiner made findings of fact sustaining the complaint and recommended that petitioners be ordered to cease and desist from the interference complained of and be required to offer to Ciccone and the 76 other discharged employees full reinstatement, together with back pay for Ciccone from November 10, 1950, and for the other employees from March 9, 1951. See 103 N. L. R. B. 511, 526-563. With minor modifications, the Board adopted the examiner's findings and conclusions and issued the recommended order. 103 N. L. R. B. 511. The chairman and one member dissented in part.
The Court of Appeals, with one judge dissenting in part, accepted the Board's findings of fact and conclusions of law and enforced the Board's order. 214 F.2d 462. Since then, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has reached a similar conclusion. Labor Board v. Wagner
Apart from the issues raised by petitioners' affirmative defenses, the proceedings reflect a flagrant example of interference by the employers with the expressly protected right of their employees to select their own bargaining representative. The findings disclose vigorous efforts by the employers to influence and even to coerce their employees to abandon the Carpenters as their bargaining representatives and to substitute Local 318. Accordingly, unless petitioners sustain at least one of their affirmative defenses, they must suffer the consequences of their unfair labor practices violating § 8 (a) (1), (2) or (3) of the Act, as amended.
In the absence of some contractual or statutory provision to the contrary, petitioners' unfair labor practices provide adequate ground for the orderly strike that occurred here. Under those circumstances, the striking employees do not lose their status and are entitled to reinstatement with back pay, even if replacements for them have been made.
I. Does the collective-bargaining contract waive the employees' right to strike against the unfair labor practices committed by their employers? The answer turns upon the proper interpretation of the particular contract before us. Like other contracts, it must be read as a whole and in the light of the law relating to it when made.
This contract was made in the light of that declared policy. A similar dual purpose is emphasized as follows in § 1 of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended:
The two policies are complementary. They depend for their foundation upon assurance of "full freedom of association." Only after that is assured can the parties turn to effective negotiation as a means of maintaining "the normal flow of commerce and . . . the full production of articles and commodities . . . ." 61 Stat. 136, 29 U. S. C. § 141 (b).
On the premise of fair representation, collective-bargaining contracts frequently have included certain waivers of the employees' right to strike and of the employers' right to lockout to enforce their respective economic demands during the term of those contracts. Provided the selection of the bargaining representative remains free, such waivers contribute to the normal flow of commerce and to the maintenance of regular production schedules. Individuals violating such clauses appropriately lose their status as employees.
That clause expresses concern for the continued operation of the plant and has a natural application to strikes and work stoppages involving the subject matter of the contract.
Conceding that the words "in any strike or work stoppage during the [one-year] term of this agreement," if read in complete isolation, may include all strikes and work stoppages of every nature, yet the trial examiner, the Board and the Court of Appeals agree that those words do not have that scope when read in their context and in the light of the law under which the contract was made. This unanimity of interpretation is entitled to much weight.
Petitioners argue that the words "any strike" leave no room for interpretation and necessarily include all strikes, even those against unlawful practices destructive of the foundation on which collective bargaining must rest. We disagree. We believe that the contract, taken as a whole, deals solely with the economic relationship between the employers and their employees.
To adopt petitioners' all-inclusive interpretation of the clause is quite a different matter. That interpretation would eliminate, for the whole year, the employees' right to strike, even if petitioners, by coercion, ousted the employees' lawful bargaining representative and, by threats of discharge, caused the employees to sign membership cards in a new union. Whatever may be said of the legality of such a waiver when explicitly stated, there is no adequate basis for implying its existence without a more compelling expression of it than appears in § 5 of this contract.
There has been no court decision called to our attention which has held that the employees' right to strike against unfair labor practices has been waived by language such as that which is before us. On the other hand, prior to such contract, such language had been held by the Board to apply appropriately to economic strikes with consequent loss of employee status.
It is suggested that § 13 of the Act, as amended, precludes reliance by the Board upon the Act for support of its interpretation of the strike-waiver clause. That section provides that "Nothing in this Act, except as specifically provided for herein, shall be construed so as either to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike, or to affect the limitations or qualifications on that right." 61 Stat. 151, 29 U. S. C. § 163. On the basis of the above language, petitioners claim that because the contract-waiver clause prohibits all strikes of every nature, nothing in the Act may be construed to affect the "limitations or qualifications" which the contract thus places on that right. Such a claim assumes the point at issue. The Board relies upon the context of the
As a matter of fact, the initial provision in § 13 that nothing in the Act "shall be construed so as either to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike" adds emphasis to the Board's insistence upon preserving the employees' right to strike to protect their freedom of concerted action. Inasmuch as strikes against unfair labor practices are not anywhere specifically excepted from lawful strikes, § 13 adds emphasis to the congressional recognition of their propriety.
For the reasons stated above and those given by the Board and the court below, we conclude that the contract did not waive the employees' right to strike solely against the unfair labor practices of their employers.
II. Does § 8 (d) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, deprive individuals of their status as employees if, within the waiting period prescribed by § 8 (d) (4), they engage in a strike solely against unfair labor practices of their employers? Here again the background is the dual purpose of the Act (1) to protect the right of employees to be free to take concerted action as provided in §§ 7 and 8 (a),
Petitioners contend that the above words must be so read that employees who engage in any strike, regardless of its purpose, within the 60-day waiting period, thereby lose their status as employees. That interpretation would deprive Ciccone and his fellow strikers of their rights to reinstatement and would require the reversal of the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
Reading the clause in conjunction with the rest of § 8, the Board points out that "the sixty-day period" referred to is the period mentioned in paragraph (4) of § 8 (d). That paragraph requires the party giving notice of a desire to "terminate or modify" such a contract, as part of its obligation to bargain under § 8 (a) (5) or § 8 (b) (3), to continue "in full force and effect, without resorting to
The Board reasons that the words which provide the key to a proper interpretation of § 8 (d) with respect to this problem are "termination or modification." Since the Board expressly found that the instant strike was not to terminate or modify the contract,
Petitioners contend that, unless the loss-of-status clause is applicable to unfair labor practice strikes, as well as to economic strikes, it adds nothing to the existing law relating to loss of status. Assuming that to be so, the clause is justifiable as a clarification of the law and as a warning to employees against engaging in economic strikes during the statutory waiting period. Moreover, in the face of the affirmative emphasis that is placed by the Act upon freedom of concerted action and freedom of choice of representatives, any limitation on the employees' right to strike against violations of §§ 7 and 8 (a), protecting those freedoms, must be more explicit and clear than it is here in order to restrict them at the very time they may be most needed.
There is sufficient ambiguity here to permit consideration of relevant legislative history. While such history provides no conclusive answer, it is consistent with the view taken by the Board and by the Courts of Appeals for the Second and Seventh Circuits.
Senator Ball, who was a manager for the 1947 amendments in the Senate and one of the conferees on the bill, stated that § 8 (d) made mandatory what was already
One minority report suggested a fear that § 8 (d) would be applicable to unfair practice strikes. The suggestion, however, was not even made the subject of comment by the majority reports or in the debates.
The record shows that the supporters of the bill were aware of the established practice which distinguished between the effect on employees of engaging in economic strikes and that of engaging in unfair practice strikes.
Finally, petitioners seek support for their interpretation of § 8 (d) from the fact that its last clause makes a cross-reference to §§ 8, 9 and 10 of the Act. Such reference does not expand the scope of § 8 (d). It merely makes it clear that if § 8 (d) is violated by the employees to whom it applies, then they lose their status as employees for the purposes of §§ 8, 9 and 10.
As neither the collective-bargaining contract nor § 8 (d) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, stands in the way, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, whom MR. JUSTICE MINTON and MR. JUSTICE HARLAN join, dissenting.
The petitioners are corporations in the plastics manufacturing business in New York and are subject to the Taft-Hartley Act, 61 Stat. 136, 29 U. S. C. § 141. In November 1949 they negotiated a one-year collective bargaining agreement with the Carpenters Union, A. F. L.,
In an effort to keep the Warehouse Workers out of their plant, the petitioners enlisted the aid of a third union, the Pulp and Mill Workers. This latter organization had bested the Wholesale and Warehouse Workers elsewhere in organizational wars. Petitioners proselytized among their employees on behalf of the Pulp and Mill Workers, which in late October, having gained sufficient adherents, intervened in the representation proceeding initiated before the Board by the Warehouse Workers.
Meanwhile the Carpenters had written petitioners on October 10, stating that they wished to negotiate a new contract to take effect upon the expiration of the current agreement. The letter made specific demands, and bargaining over them followed. When the petitioners' organizational activities became manifest, the Carpenters lodged unfair-labor-practice charges with the Board. Some members of the incumbent union tried to counteract the influence of the petitioners upon the employees. Frank Ciccone, a machinist, was one who was active in urging employees to remain loyal to the Carpenters.
On November 10 Ciccone was discharged because of this. The discharge, in conjunction with the antecedent employer unfair labor practices, precipitated a plant-wide strike accompanied by peaceful picketing. The strike continued until early February when the participants requested reinstatement. The request was rejected by the petitioners which had earlier notified the strikers of their discharge.
Petitioners did not contend in the Court of Appeals, nor have they argued here, that the Board erred either in finding them guilty of committing unfair labor practices, or in concluding that the strike was precipitated by these illegal practices. Rather they maintain that the Board lacked the power to order the discharged strikers reinstated. Two reasons are urged. First, the strike is claimed to constitute a breach of the labor agreement between petitioners and the bargaining representative of the strikers, and was therefore unprotected activity. Such is not the case. The Board and the Court of Appeals rightly held that the "no-strike" clause in the contract does not cover a work stoppage provoked by the petitioners' unfair labor practices. The second reason is that the strikers ceased to be employees within the meaning of the Act, and therefore were not entitled to reinstatement. Petitioners contend that the discharged workers lost their status as employees by reason of the 60-day "cooling-off" period provided by § 8 (d) of the Act.
Section 8 (d) defines the duty of the employer and the union to bargain collectively. A long proviso in the section treats specifically of the duty during the period
The discharged employees struck during the 60-day period, for the notification required by § 8 (d) (1) was given on October 10, and the strike began on November 10. The holding of the Board, however, sustained by the Court of Appeals, is that the loss-of-status provision does not apply to an unfair-labor-practice striker.
The so-called canons of construction are not technical rules of law which afford the answer to a problem like this. But they are "axiom[s] of experience" (Boston Sand & Gravel Co. v. United States, 278 U.S. 41, 48), helpful guides in determining when language as plain as ours should be respected and enforced. Relevant guides in construing an amendatory provision like the one in issue are: (1) what was the state of the law before the amendment and (2) what light is shed on the specific provision by placing it in the context of the legislation, i. e., the Taft-Hartley Act, of which it is a part, in order to secure harmony and not discord of result. In a word, enactments like the Wagner Act and the Taft-Hartley Act must be considered as an organic whole.
Under the original Wagner Act, employees were given the right in § 7 "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." Duties were imposed upon the employer under § 8. Among these, he could not interfere with the exercise by employees of their
While the employer had numerous obligations to his employees and their bargaining representative, the union and the employees were under no statutory duty to the employer. For example, the union was not required to bargain in good faith, and it was not forbidden to strike in order to achieve its demands during a period of contract renegotiation.
If this case had come up under the Wagner Act the results would be clear. The employers violated § 8 and thereby unleashed the strike. Such a strike would not have been in violation of any statutory duty because the union and the employees had no duties under the Wagner Act. Since the employers had committed an unfair labor practice, the Board had jurisdiction and could order the discharged strikers reinstated with back pay. Phelps Dodge Corp. v. Labor Board, 313 U.S. 177. Furthermore, the employers' discharge of their employees because they engaged in a strike was itself an unfair labor practice under § 8 for it interfered with their § 7 right to engage in "concerted activities."
The Wagner Act did not define "concerted activities." All collective action, however, was not concerted activity protected by § 7. We held in Labor Board v. Fansteel Metallurgical Corp., 306 U.S. 240, that a sit-down strike was not § 7 activity; and in Southern S. S. Co. v. Labor Board, 316 U.S. 31, we decided that a strike in violation of the laws against mutiny was not protected under § 7. If an employer interferes with collective
The Taft-Hartley Act changed the situation. Section 8 of the Wagner Act was amended and duties were placed upon unions. Collective action which violates any of these duties is of course activity unprotected by § 7. See Cox, The Right to Engage in Concerted Activities, 26 Ind. L. J. 319, 325-333 (1951). One of these new union duties, and an important one, is contained in § 8 (d): unions may not strike to enforce their demands during the 60-day "cooling-off" period.
By reason of this new enactment, participating workers would not be engaged in a protected activity under § 7 by striking for the most legitimate economic reasons during the 60-day period. The strike would be in violation of the provision of that section which says that during the period there shall be no resort to a strike. The employer could discharge such strikers without violating § 8. This would be so if § 8 were without the loss-of-status provision. The Board would be powerless to order reinstatement under § 10. The loss-of-status provision in § 8 (d) does not curtail the Board's power, since it did not have power to order reinstatement where a strike is resorted to for economic reasons before the 60-day period has expired. In such a situation the striker has no rights under §§ 8 and 10. Yet the Board would have us construe the loss-of-status provision as applicable only
It is with respect to the unfair-labor-practice striker that the provision serves a purpose. This becomes clear if we assume that there were no such provision and examine the consequences of its absence. On such an assumption, a strike based on an unfair labor practice by the employer during the 60-day period may or may not be a protected activity under § 7. If it is, obviously discharged strikers would be entitled to reinstatement. The strike would not be a § 7 activity, however, if, for example, it were in breach of a no-strike clause in the contract which extends to a work stoppage provoked by an employer unfair labor practice, cf. Labor Board v. Sands Mfg. Co., 306 U.S. 332, 344, or if the no-strike clause in § 8 (d) (4) (not to be confused with the loss-of-status provision) extends to such a work stoppage. However, even if the strike is not a § 7 activity, the Board in the unfair-labor-practice strike situation as distinguished from the economic strike situation, may in its discretion order the discharged participants reinstated. This is so because of the antecedent employer unfair practice which caused the strike, and which gave employees rights under § 8. If the Board finds that reinstatement of such strikers is a remedy that would effectuate the policies of the Act, it has the power under § 10 (c) to issue the necessary order.
This would not be the case, however, if the loss-of-status provision were held applicable to unfair-labor-practice strikes, because participating workers would lose their rights as "employees" for the purposes of §§ 8 and 10. Under the Act only "employees" are eligible for reinstatement. The unfair-labor-practice strike, then, is the one situation where loss of status for the purposes of §§ 8 and 10 is of significance. At any rate, we have not been advised of any other situation to which the provision would apply.
We need not agree with a legislative judgment in order to obey a legislative command. It is enough for us that Congress did not legislate idly, but did intend the loss-of-status provision to have an effect. "We are not at liberty to construe any statute so as to deny effect to any part of its language. It is a cardinal rule of statutory construction that significance and effect shall, if possible, be accorded to every word. As early as in Bacon's Abridgment, sect. 2, it was said that `a statute ought, upon the whole, to be so construed that, if it can be prevented, no clause, sentence, or word shall be superfluous, void, or insignificant.' This rule has been repeated innumerable times. Another rule equally recognized is that every part of a statute must be construed in connection with the whole, so as to make all the parts harmonize, if possible, and give meaning to each." Market Co. v. Hoffman, 101 U.S. 112, 115-116. Since the loss-of-status provision has an effect only in an unfair-labor-practice strike, the judgment of the Court of Appeals should be reversed.
". . . the purpose of the strike was to protest and seek to remedy the [petitioners'] unfair labor practices. The record does not support a finding that the strike also had as an additional objective the termination or modification of the existing contract. It is true that demands for contract changes had previously been presented to the [petitioners], and there had been some discussion at meetings of Local 22045 or Local 3127 of a possible strike if such demands were not met. But no strike vote on that issue had ever been taken, nor was any strike action otherwise determined upon. On the record as a whole, I am fully satisfied, and I find, that the strike which immediately followed Ciccone's discharge was unplanned and began as a spontaneous demonstration by employees of their protest of the [petitioners'] unfair labor practices. Nor does the record reflect that its character changed after it began to one where the strikers were seeking to compel changes or modifications in economic terms or conditions of employment. There is no evidence that any negotiations were conducted or overtures made along such lines at any time after the commencement of the strike. The [petitioners] at the hearing made no such claim, and offered no evidence to establish that the strike had any purpose other than, or in addition to, that claimed by the General Counsel." 103 N. L. R. B., at 560.
These were adopted by the Board, id., at 511-512, and confirmed by the Court of Appeals, 214 F. 2d, at 465.
"(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: Provided, That where there is in effect a collective-bargaining contract covering employees in an industry affecting commerce, the duty to bargain collectively shall also mean that no party to such contract shall terminate or modify such contract, unless the party desiring such termination or modification—
"The duties imposed upon employers, employees, and labor organizations by paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) shall become inapplicable upon an intervening certification of the Board, under which the labor organization or individual, which is a party to the contract, has been superseded as or ceased to be the representative of the employees subject to the provisions of section 9 (a), and the duties so imposed shall not be construed as requiring either party to discuss or agree to any modification of the terms and conditions contained in a contract for a fixed period, if such modification is to become effective before such terms and conditions can be reopened under the provisions of the contract. Any employee who engages in a strike within the sixty-day period specified in this subsection shall lose his status as an employee of the employer engaged in the particular labor dispute, for the purposes of sections 8, 9, and 10 of this Act, as amended, but such loss of status for such employee shall terminate if and when he is reemployed by such employer." (Emphasis supplied except for the word "Provided.") 61 Stat. 140, 142-143, 29 U. S. C. § 158 (d).
"SEC. 8. (a) It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer—
"(1) to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7;
"(2) to dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it: . . .
"(3) by discrimination in regard to hire or tenure of employment or any term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organization: . . . ." 61 Stat. 140, 29 U. S. C. §§ 157, 158 (a) (1), (2) and (3).
The balance of the contract relates to: (1) Limitation of employment to union members in good standing; definitions of exempt employees and union shop; (2) Availability of arbitration, under § 19, in disputes as to failures to maintain union memberships; (3) Checkoff of union dues; (4) Exempt employees and new employees; (5) Strike waiver as quoted in text; (6) Lockout waiver as follows: "The Employers agree that there shall be no lockout during the term of this agreement." (7) Arbitration, under § 19, to determine whether a strike, work stoppage or lockout has actually occurred; (8) Probationary periods for new employees; (9) Employers to have control over plant production and business requirements resulting in layoffs, furloughs or intra-plant transfers; (10) Employee seniority; (11) Hours of work; (12) Work weeks and extra shifts; (13) Rest periods; (14) Overtime; (15) Holidays; (16) Rates of pay and wage incentives; (17) Contract not to be interpreted so as to reduce wages, standards or working conditions; (18) Union officers who are active employees and union stewards governed by plant rules; (19) (a) Disputes as to meaning and application of the contract are subject to arbitration; (b) Rights of employees to present grievances to their employers are assured; (20) Notice of work days; (21) Vacations; (22) Employers' rights to manage plant and to discharge employees "for proper cause" preserved; union to cooperate with employers in interest of employee efficiency; (23) A specific wage increase is prescribed in lieu of an increase recently awarded by arbitration; (24) Effective December 1, 1949—November 30, 1950, with 60-day notice of intention to modify or terminate, and in such event "negotiations shall be promptly started."
"[T]he section is silent as to the Board's authority to accommodate conflicting issues such as provocation on the part of the employer. Under this section an employer desirous of ridding himself either of the employees or their representative can engage in the most provocative conduct without fear of redress except by way of a lengthy hearing before the Board and a subsequent admonition to thereafter `cease and desist' from such practices. In striking contrast to the relatively delicate treatment provided for such action by an employer, employees unwilling idly to countenance abuse, who resort to self-help under the circumstances are removed from the protection of the statute and lose `employee' status. An employer is at liberty under such circumstances freely to replace any employee bold enough to insist upon justice. The provision denies to the Board the exercise of any discretion to accommodate the equitable doctrine of `clean hands.' The provisions of the section are conclusive—the employee is subject to summary dismissal irrespective of the employer's conduct." S. Rep. No. 105 (Minority), Part 2, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 21-22 (1947).