MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question presented by this appeal and by No. 41, post, p. 20, and No. 50, post, p. 26, also decided this day, is whether Congress, by vesting in the National Labor
Some background is necessary for an understanding of this problem in federal-state relations and how it assumed its present importance. Since it was first enacted in 1935, the National Labor Relations Act
How many labor disputes the Board's 1954 standards leave in the "twilight zone" between exercised federal jurisdiction and unquestioned state jurisdiction is not known.
Appellant, doing business in Salt Lake City, Utah, manufactures specialized photographic equipment for the Air Force on a contract basis. To fulfill his government contracts he purchased materials from outside Utah in an amount "a little less than $50,000." Finished products
The union thereupon filed substantially the same charges with the Utah Labor Relations Board, pursuant to the Utah Labor Relations Act.
On these facts we start from the following uncontroverted premises:
(1) Appellant's business affects commerce within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act and the National Labor Relations Board had jurisdiction. Labor Board v. Fainblatt, supra.
(2) The National Act expressly deals with the conduct charged to appellant which was the basis of the state tribunals' actions. Therefore, if the National Board had not declined jurisdiction, state action would have been precluded by our decision in Garner v. Teamsters Union, 346 U.S. 485.
(3) The National Board has not entered into any cession agreement with the Utah Board pursuant to § 10 (a) of the National Act.
Section 10 (a) provides:
The proviso to § 10 (a), italicized in the quotation above, was one of the Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act. Timing and a reference in one of the committee reports indicate that it was drafted in response to the decision of this Court in Bethlehem Steel Co. v. New York Labor Board, 330 U.S. 767.
Thus, if the opinion of the Court did not make manifest, the concurring opinion did, that after Bethlehem there was doubt whether a state board could act either after a formal cession by the National Board or upon a declination of jurisdiction "for budgetary or other reasons." When we read § 10 (a) against this background we find unconvincing the argument that Congress meant by the proviso only to meet the first problem, i. e., cession of jurisdiction over cases the National Board would otherwise handle.
The proviso is directed at least equally to the type of cases which the Board might decline "for budgetary or other reasons" to hear as to the type of cases it might wish to cede to the States for policy reasons—if, indeed, there is any difference between the two classes. Cases in mining, manufacturing, communications and transportation can be ceded only where the "industry" is "predominantly local in character." In other industries, which Congress might have considered to be more or less typically local,
The Committee minority agreed as to the purpose of the proviso and agreed "with the majority that it is desirable thus to clarify the relations between the National Labor Relations Board and the various agencies which States have set up to handle similar problems."
We hold that the proviso to § 10 (a) is the exclusive means whereby States may be enabled to act concerning the matters which Congress has entrusted to the National Labor Relations Board. We find support for our holding in prior cases in this Court. In Amalgamated Assn. of Employees v. Wisconsin Board, 340 U.S. 383, 397-398, the Court said:
In a footnote to the first sentence quoted above the Court cited § 10 (a) and described its authorization to cede jurisdiction only where the state law is consistent with the national legislation as insuring "that the national labor policy will not be thwarted even in the predominantly local enterprises to which the proviso applies." Id., n. 23. See also Algoma Plywood & Veneer Co. v. Wisconsin Board, 336 U.S. 301, 313; California v. Zook, 336 U.S. 725, 732.
Our reading of § 10 (a) forecloses the argument based upon such cases as Welch Co. v. New Hampshire, 306 U.S. 79, and Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Larabee Flour Mills Co., 211 U.S. 612, that "where federal power has been delegated but lies dormant and unexercised," Bethlehem Steel Co. v. New York Labor Board, supra, at 775, the States' power to act with respect to matters of local concern is not necessarily superseded. But in each case the question is one of congressional intent. Compare Welch Co. v. New Hampshire, supra, with Napier v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 272 U.S. 605. And here we find not only a general intent to pre-empt the field but also the proviso to § 10 (a), with its inescapable implication of exclusiveness.
We are told by appellee that to deny the State jurisdiction here will create a vast no-man's-land, subject to regulation by no agency or court. We are told by appellant that to grant jurisdiction would produce confusion and conflicts with federal policy. Unfortunately, both may be right. We believe, however, that Congress has expressed
Congress is free to change the situation at will. In 1954 the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare recognized the existence of a no-man's-land and proposed an amendment which would have empowered state courts and agencies to act upon the National Board's declination of jurisdiction.
The judgment of the Supreme Court of Utah is
MR. JUSTICE WHITTAKER took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE BURTON, whom MR. JUSTICE CLARK joins, dissenting.
I believe the Court is mistaken in its interpretation of the proviso which Congress added to § 10 (a) of the National Labor Relations Act in 1947.
The Labor Acts of 1935 and 1947 granted to the Board extensive jurisdiction over labor controversies affecting interstate commerce but neither Act required the Board to assert at all times the full measure of its jurisdiction. In each Act the first sentence of § 10 (a) "empowered," but did not direct, the Board to prevent unfair labor practices. Likewise, the first sentence of § 10 (b) granted the "power," instead of imposing the duty, to issue complaints upon receipt of appropriate charges.
From the beginning, budgetary limitations and other administrative considerations have prevented the Board
Unless restricted by the proviso added to § 10 (a), there is little doubt that the States have the necessary power to act in labor controversies within their borders, even when interstate commerce is affected, provided the Federal Government has not occupied the field and the National Board has not taken jurisdiction. Where the Board has
By this decision the Court restricts the power of the States to those labor disputes over which the National Board expressly cedes its jurisdiction to the appropriate state agencies. However, the proviso's requirements are so highly restrictive that not a single cession has been made under it.
The immediate occasion that led to the enactment of the proviso throws light on its proper interpretation. That occasion was this Court's decision in the Bethlehem case, supra, where it was held that a State Board did not have jurisdiction to certify a union of foremen as a collective-bargaining agency because the National Board, by asserting general jurisdiction over foremen's unions, had occupied the field.
While the proviso thus evidenced a congressional purpose to encourage state action, there is no indication that it was intended to wipe out, by implication, the States' recognized power to act when the National Board declined to take jurisdiction. Neither the language of the proviso nor its legislative history discloses a conscious congressional intent to eliminate state authority when the National Board has declined to act. Unequivocal legislative history would be necessary to sustain a conclusion that Congress intended such a drastic result. In the Bethlehem case, supra, the Court did not question the authority of the States to act when the Board, for budgetary or other administrative reasons, declined to exercise its full jurisdiction. The Court expressly refrained from passing on that question
As a matter of fact, in 1947, nearly 40 States lacked labor agencies and comprehensive labor legislation.
The Court's interpretation of the proviso is contrary to the established practice of the States and of the National Board, as well as to the considered position taken by the Board as amicus curiae. Congress has demonstrated a continuing and deep interest in providing governmental machinery for handling labor controversies. The creation by it of a large, unsupervised no man's land flies in the face of that policy. Due regard for our federal system suggests that all doubts on this score should be resolved in favor of a conclusion that would not leave the States
I would sustain the jurisdiction of the respective States in these cases.
"SEC. 10 (a) 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 not be affected by any other means of adjustment or prevention that has been or may be established by agreement, law, or otherwise: Provided, That the Board is empowered by agreement with any agency of any State or Territory to cede to such agency jurisdiction over any cases in any industry (other than mining, manufacturing, communications, and transportation except where predominantly local in character) even though such cases may involve labor disputes affecting commerce, unless the provision of the State or Territorial statute applicable to the determination of such cases by such agency is inconsistent with the corresponding provision of this Act or has received a construction inconsistent therewith." 61 Stat. 146, 29 U. S. C. § 160 (a).
"It should be noted here that the Board has been unable, because of the prescribed conditions, to consummate any such agreements. Congress has been aware of this situation and considered the feasibility of deleting these conditions in order to reduce the tremendous volume of cases brought before the Board. S. Rep. No. 986, Joint Committee Report, 80th Cong., 2d Sess., 31 (1948). Congress, however, has taken no action in this regard. The advocates of federal preemption argue from this post-legislative history that Congress has thereby manifested its intent to preclude State action in the absence of cession by the Board. Precisely what inference may be drawn from such Congressional inaction is, in our judgment, wholly speculative."
". . . The federal board has jurisdiction of the industry in which these particular employers are engaged and has asserted control of their labor relations in general. It asserts, and rightfully so, under our decision in the Packard case, supra [330 U.S. 485], its power to decide whether these foremen may constitute themselves a bargaining unit. We do not believe this leaves room for the operation of the state authority asserted." 330 U. S., at 775, 776.