MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236 (1959), established the general principle that the National Labor Relations Act pre-empts state and federal court jurisdiction to remedy conduct that is arguably protected or prohibited by the Act. That decision represents the watershed in this Court's continuing effort to mark the extent to which the maintenance of a general federal law of labor relations combined with a centralized administrative agency to implement its provisions necessarily supplants the operation of the more traditional legal processes in this field. We granted certiorari in
Respondent, Wilson P. Lockridge, has obtained in the Idaho courts a judgment for $32,678.56 against petitioners, Northwest Division 1055 of the Amalgamated Association of Street, Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America and its parent international association,
From May 1943 until November 2, 1959, Lockridge was a member of petitioner Union and employed within the State of Idaho as a bus driver for Western Greyhound Lines, or its predecessor. At the time of Lockridge's dismissal from the Union, § 3 (a) of the collective-bargaining agreement in effect between the Union and Greyhound provided:
In addition, § 91 of the Union's Constitution and General Laws provided, in pertinent part, that:
Prior to September 1959, Lockridge's dues had been deducted from his paycheck by Greyhound, pursuant to a checkoff arrangement. During that year, however, Lockridge and a few other employees were released at their request from the checkoff, and thereby became obligated to pay their dues directly to the Union's office in Portland, Oregon. On November 2, 1959, C. A. Bankhead, the treasurer and financial secretary of the union local, suspended Lockridge from membership on the sole ground that since respondent had not yet paid his October
This chain of events, combined with the disparity between the above-quoted terms of the collective-bargaining agreement and the union constitution and general laws, generated this lawsuit. Lockridge has contended, and the Idaho courts have so held, that because he was less than two months behind in his payment of dues, respondent had not yet "suspended himself from membership" within the meaning of the Union's rules, but instead had merely ceased to be a "member in good standing." And, because the collective-bargaining agreement required only that employees "remain members," those courts held that neither that agreement nor the final sentence of § 91 justified the Union's action in procuring Lockridge's discharge. Therefore, the Idaho courts have held, Lockridge's dismissal violated a promise, implied in law, that the Union would not seek termination of his employment unless he was sufficiently derelict in his dues payments to subject him to loss of his job under the terms of the applicable collective-bargaining agreement.
Although the trial court made no formal findings of fact on this score,
Lockridge initially made some efforts, with Bankhead's assistance, to obtain reinstatement in the Union but these proved unsuccessful. No charges were filed before the National Labor Relations Board.
In 1965 Lockridge filed a second amended complaint which has since served as the basis for this lawsuit. Its first count alleged that
Count Two, sounding squarely in contract, alleged that
The complaint sought damages in the amount of $212,000 "and such other and further relief as to the court may appear meet and equitable in the premises." Ibid.
After trial, the Idaho District Court found the facts as stated above and held that they did, indeed, amount to a breach of contract. The court felt itself bound by the prior determination of the Idaho Supreme Court to consider that it might properly exercise jurisdiction over the controversy and to "decide [the] case on the theories of" Machinists v. Gonzales, supra. Consequently, the trial judge concluded that Lockridge was entitled to a decree restoring him to membership in the Union, "although plaintiff has never sought such remedy." Lockridge was also awarded $32,678.56 as compensation for wages actually lost due to his dismissal from Greyhound's employ, but his requests for future damages arising from continued loss of employment, compensation for loss of seniority or fringe benefits, and punitive damages were all denied. On appeal the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed, over one dissenting vote, except that it also ordered restoration of respondent's seniority rights. 93 Idaho 294, 460 P.2d 719 (1969). Having granted certiorari for the reasons stated at the outset of this opinion, we now reverse.
On the surface, this might appear to be a routine and simple case. Section 8 (b) (2) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 61 Stat. 141, 29 U. S. C. § 158 (b) (2), makes it an unfair labor practice for a union
Section 8 (b) (1) (A), 29 U. S. C. § 158 (b) (1) (A), makes it an unfair labor practice for a union "to restrain or coerce . . . employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7," which includes the right not only "to form, join, or assist labor organizations" but also "the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8 (a) (3)." 61 Stat. 140, 29 U. S. C. § 157. Section 8 (a) (3) makes it an unfair labor practice for an employer
Further, in San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U. S., at 245, we held that the National Labor Relations Act pre-empts the jurisdiction of state and federal courts to regulate conduct "arguably subject to § 7 or § 8 of the Act." On their face, the abovequoted provisions of the Act at least arguably either permit or forbid the union conduct dealt with by the judgment below. For the evident thrust of this aspect of the federal statutory scheme is to permit the enforcement of union security clauses, by dismissal from employment, only for failure to pay dues. Whatever other sanctions may be employed to exact compliance with those internal union rules unrelated to dues payment, the Act seems generally to exclude dismissal from employment. See Radio Officers' Union v. NLRB, 347 U.S. 17 (1954). Indeed, in the course of rejecting petitioner's pre-emption argument, the Idaho Supreme Court stated that, in its opinion, the Union "did most certainly violate 8 (b) (1) (A), did most certainly violate 8 (b) (2) . . . and probably caused the employer to violate 8 (a) (3)." 93 Idaho, at 299, 460 P. 2d, at 724. Thus, given the broad pre-emption principle enunciated in Garmon, the want of state court power to resolve Lockridge's complaint might well seem to follow as a matter of course.
The Idaho Supreme Court, however, concluded that it nevertheless possessed jurisdiction in these circumstances. That determination, as we understand it, rested upon three separate propositions, all of which are urged here by respondent. The first is that the Union's conduct was not only an unfair labor practice, but a breach of its contract with Lockridge as well. "Pre-emption is not established simply by showing that the same facts will sustain two different legal wrongs." 93 Idaho, at 300,
We do not believe that any of these arguments suffice to overcome the plain purport of Garmon as applied to the facts of this case. However, we have determined to treat these considerations at some length because of the understandable confusion, perhaps in a measure attributable to the previous opinions of this Court, they reflect over the jurisprudential bases upon which the Garmon doctrine rests.
The constitutional principles of pre-emption, in whatever particular field of law they operate, are designed with a common end in view: to avoid conflicting regulation of conduct by various official bodies which might
The course of events that eventuated in the enactment of a comprehensive national labor law, entrusted for its administration and development to a centralized, expert agency, as well as the very fact of that enactment itself, reveals that a primary factor in this development was the perceived incapacity of common-law courts and state legislatures, acting alone, to provide an informed and coherent basis for stabilizing labor relations conflict and for equitably and delicately structuring the balance of power among competing forces so as to further the common good.
As it appears to us, nothing could serve more fully to defeat the congressional goals underlying the Act than to subject, without limitation, the relationships it seeks to create to the concurrent jurisdiction of state and federal courts free to apply the general local law. Nor
Conflict in technique can be fully as disruptive to the system Congress erected as conflict in overt policy. As the passage from Garner indicates, in matters of dispute concerning labor relations a simple recitation of the formally prescribed rights and duties of the parties constitutes an inadequate description of the actual process for settlement Congress has provided. The technique of administration and the range and nature of those remedies that are and are not available is a fundamental part and parcel of the operative legal system established by the National Labor Relations Act. "Administration is more than a means of regulation; administration is regulation. We have been concerned with conflict in its
The rationale for pre-emption, then, rests in large measure upon our determination that when it set down a federal labor policy Congress plainly meant to do more than simply to alter the then-prevailing substantive law. It sought as well to restructure fundamentally the processes for effectuating that policy, deliberately placing the responsibility for applying and developing this comprehensive legal system in the hands of an expert administrative body rather than the federalized judicial system.
A second factor that has played an important role in our shaping of the pre-emption doctrine has been the necessity to act without specific congressional direction. The precise extent to which state law must be displaced to achieve those unifying ends sought by the national legislature has never been determined by the Congress. This has, quite frankly, left the Court with few available options. We cannot declare pre-empted all local regulation that touches or concerns in any way the complex interrelationships between employees, employers, and unions; obviously, much of this is left to the States. Nor can we proceed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether each particular final judicial pronouncement does, or might reasonably be thought to, conflict in some relevant manner with federal labor policy. This Court
This is not to say, however, that these inherent limitations on this Court's ability to state a workable rule that comports reasonably with apparent congressional objectives are necessarily self-evident. In fact, varying approaches were taken by the Court in initially grappling with this pre-emption problem. Thus, for example, some early cases suggested the true distinction lay between judicial application of general common law, which was permissible, as opposed to state rules specifically designed to regulate labor relations, which were pre-empted. See,
The failure of alternative analyses and the interplay of the foregoing policy considerations, then, led this Court to hold in Garmon, 359 U. S., at 244:
Upon these premises, we think that Garmon rather clearly dictates reversal of the judgment below. None of the propositions asserted to support that judgment
Assuredly the proposition that Lockridge's complaint was not subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the NLRB because it charged a breach of contract rather than an unfair labor practice is not tenable. Pre-emption, as shown above, is designed to shield the system from conflicting regulation of conduct. It is the conduct being regulated, not the formal description of governing legal standards, that is the proper focus of concern. Indeed, the notion that a relevant distinction exists for such purposes between particularized and generalized labor law was explicitly rejected in Garmon itself. 359 U. S., at 244.
The second argument, closely related to the first, is that the state courts, in resolving this controversy, did deal with different conduct, i. e., interpretation of contractual terms, than would the NLRB which would be required to decide whether the Union discriminated against Lockridge. At bottom, of course, the Union's action in procuring Lockridge's dismissal from employment is the conduct which Idaho courts have sought to regulate. Thus, this second point demonstrates at best that Idaho defines differently what sorts of such union conduct may permissibly be proscribed. This is to say either that the regulatory schemes, state and federal, conflict (in which case pre-emption is clearly called for) or that Idaho is dealing with conduct to which the federal Act does not speak. If the latter assertion was intended, it is not accurate. As pointed out in Part II-A, supra, the relevant portions of the Act operate to prohibit a union from causing or attempting to cause an employer to discriminate against an employee because his membership in the union has been terminated "on some ground other than" his failure to pay those dues requisite to membership.
From the foregoing, then, it would seem that this case indeed represents one of the clearest instances where the Garmon principle, properly understood, should operate to oust state court jurisdiction. There being no doubt that the conduct here involved was arguably protected by § 7 or prohibited by § 8 of the Act, the full range of very substantial interests the pre-emption doctrine seeks to protect is directly implicated here.
However, a final strand of analysis underlies the opinion of the Idaho Supreme Court, and the position of respondent, in this case. Our decision in Machinists v. Gonzales, 356 U.S. 617 (1958), it is argued, fully survived the subsequent reorientation of pre-emption doctrine
The fact situation in Gonzales does resemble in some relevant regards that of the instant case. There the California courts had entertained a complaint by an individual union member claiming he had been expelled from his union in violation of rights conferred upon him by the union's constitution and bylaws, which allegedly constituted a contract between him and his union. Gonzales prevailed on his breach-of-contract theory and was awarded damages for wages lost due to the revocation of membership as well as a decree providing for his reinstatement in the union. This Court confirmed the California courts' power to award the monetary damages, the only aspect of the action below challenged in this Court. The primary rationale for the result reached was that California should be competent to "fill out," 356 U. S., at 620, the reinstatement remedy by utilizing "the comprehensive relief of equity," id., at 621, which the Board did not fully possess. Secondarily, it was said that the lawsuit "did not purport to remedy or regulate union conduct on the ground that it was designed to bring about employer discrimination against an employee, the evil the Board is concerned to strike at as an unfair labor practice under § 8 (b) (2)." Id., at 622.
Although it was decided only one Term subsequent to Gonzales, Garmon clearly did not fully embrace the technique of the prior case. It was precisely the realization that disparities in remedies and administration could produce substantial conflict, in the practical sense of the term, between the relevant state and federal regulatory schemes and that this Court could not effectively and responsibly superintend on a case-by-case basis the exertion of state power over matters arguably governed by the National Labor Relations Act that impelled the somewhat
Against this background, we attempted to define more precisely the reach of Gonzales within the more comprehensive framework Garmon provided in the companion cases of Plumbers' Union v. Borden, 373 U.S. 690 (1963), and Iron Workers v. Perko, 373 U.S. 701 (1963).
Borden had sued his union in state courts, alleging that the union had arbitrarily refused to refer him to a particular job which he had lined up. He recovered damages, based on lost wages, on the grounds that this conduct constituted both tortious interference with his right to contract for employment and a breach of promise, implicit in his membership arrangement with the union, not to discriminate unfairly against any member or deny him the right to work. Perko had obtained a large money judgment in the Ohio courts on proof that the union had conspired, without cause, to deprive him of employment as a foreman by demanding his discharge from one such position he had held and representing to others that his foreman's rights had been suspended. We held both Perko's and Borden's judgments inconsistent with the Garmon rule essentially for the same reasons we have concluded that Lockridge could not, consistently with the Garmon decision, maintain his lawsuit in the state courts. We further held there was no necessity to "consider the present vitality of [the Gonzales] rationale in the light of more recent decisions," because in those cases, unlike Gonzales, "the crux of the action[s] . . . concerned alleged interference with the plaintiff's existing
In sum, what distinguished Gonzales from Borden and Perko was that the former lawsuit "was focused on purely internal union matters," Borden, supra, at 697, a subject the National Labor Relations Act leaves principally to other processes of law. The possibility that, in defining the scope of the union's duty to Gonzales, the state courts would directly and consciously implicate principles of federal law was at best tangential and remote. In the instant case, however, this possibility was real and immediate. To assess the legality of his union's conduct toward Gonzales the California courts needed only to focus upon the union's constitution and by-laws. Here, however, Lockridge's entire case turned upon the construction of the applicable union security clause, a matter as to which, as shown above, federal concern is pervasive and its regulation complex. The reasons for Gonzales' deprivation of union membership had nothing to do with matters of employment, while Lockridge's cause of action and claim for damages were based solely upon the procurement of his discharge from employment. It cannot plausibly be argued, in any meaningful sense, that Lockridge's lawsuit "was focused on purely internal union matters." Although nothing said in Garmon necessarily suggests that States cannot regulate the general conditions which unions may impose on their membership, it surely makes crystal clear that Gonzales does not stand for the proposition that resolution of any union-member conflict is within state competence so long as one of the
The pre-emption doctrine we apply today is, like any other purposefully administered legal principle, not without exception. Those same considerations that underlie Garmon have led this Court to permit the exercise of judicial power over conduct arguably protected or prohibited by the Act where Congress has affirmatively indicated that such power should exist, Smith v. Evening News Assn., 371 U.S. 195 (1962); Teamsters Union v. Morton, 377 U.S. 252 (1964), where this Court cannot, in spite of the force of the policies Garmon seeks to promote, conscientiously presume that Congress meant to intrude so deeply into areas traditionally left to local law, e. g., Linn v. Plant Guard Workers, 383 U.S. 53 (1966); Automobile Workers v. Russell, 356 U.S. 634 (1958),
In his brief before this Court, respondent has argued for the first time since this lawsuit was started that two of these exceptions to the Garmon principle independently justify the Idaho courts' exercise of jurisdiction over this controversy. First, Lockridge contends that his action, properly viewed, is one to enforce a collective-bargaining agreement. Alternatively, he asserts the suit, in essence, was one to redress petitioner's breach of its duty of fair representation. As will be seen, these contentions are somewhat intertwined.
In § 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act, 61 Stat. 156, Congress authorized federal courts to exercise jurisdiction over suits brought to enforce collective-bargaining agreements. We have held that such actions are judicially cognizable, even where the conduct alleged was arguably protected or prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act because the history of the enactment of § 301 reveals that "Congress deliberately chose to leave the enforcement of collective agreements `to the usual processes of the law.' " Charles Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S. 502, 513 (1962). It is firmly established, further, that state courts retain concurrent jurisdiction to adjudicate such claims, Charles Dowd Box Co., supra, and that individual employees have standing to protect rights conferred upon them by such agreements, Smith v. Evening News, supra; Humphrey v. Moore, 375 U.S. 335 (1964).
Our cases also clearly establish that individual union members may sue their employers under § 301 for breach of a promise embedded in the collective-bargaining agreement
This Court has further held in Humphrey v. Moore, supra, that § 301 will support, regardless of otherwise applicable pre-emption considerations, a suit in the state courts by a union member against his union that seeks to redress union interference with rights conferred on individual employees by the employer's promises in the collective-bargaining agreement, where it is proved that such interference constituted a breach of the duty of fair representation. Indeed, in Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171 (1967), we held that an action seeking damages for injury inflicted by a breach of a union's duty of fair representation was judicially cognizable in any event, that is, even if the conduct complained of was arguably protected or prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act and whether or not the lawsuit was bottomed on a collective agreement. Perhaps Count One of Lockridge's second amended complaint could be construed to assert either or both of these theories of recovery. However, it is unnecessary to pass upon the extent to which Garmon would be inapplicable if it were shown that in these circumstances petitioner not only breached its contractual obligations to respondent, but did so in a manner that constituted a breach of the duty of fair representation. For such a claim to be made out, Lockridge must have proved "arbitrary or bad-faith conduct on the part of the Union." Vaca v. Sipes, supra, at 193. There must be "substantial evidence of fraud, deceitful action or dishonest conduct." Humphrey v. Moore, supra, at 348. Whether these requisite elements have been proved is a matter of federal law. Quite
Nor can it be fairly argued that our resolution of respondent's final contentions entails simply attaching variegated labels to matters of equal substance. We have exempted § 301 suits from the Garmon principle because of the evident congressional determination that courts should be free to interpret and enforce collective-bargaining agreements even where that process may involve condemning or permitting conduct arguably subject to the protection or prohibition of the National Labor Relations Act. The legislative determination that courts are fully competent to resolve labor relations disputes through focusing on the terms of a collective-bargaining agreement cannot be said to sweep within it the same conclusion with regard to the terms of union-employee contracts that are said to be implied in law. That is
Similarly, this Court's refusal to limit judicial competence to rectify a breach of the duty of fair representation rests upon our judgment that such actions cannot, in the vast majority of situations where they occur, give rise to actual conflict with the operative realities of federal labor policy. The duty of fair representation was judicially evolved, without the participation of the NLRB, to enforce fully the important principle that no individual union member may suffer invidious, hostile treatment at the hands of the majority of his coworkers. Where such union conduct is proved it is clear, beyond doubt, that the conduct could not be otherwise regulated by the substantive federal law. And the fact that the doctrine was originally developed and applied by courts, after passage of the Act, and carries with it the need to adduce substantial evidence of discrimination that is intentional, severe, and unrelated to legitimate union objectives ensures that the risk of conflict with the general congressional policy favoring expert, centralized administration, and remedial action is tolerably slight. Vaca v. Sipes, supra, at 180-181. So viewed, the duty of fair representation, properly defined, operates to limit the scope of Garmon where the sheer logic of the pre-emption principle might otherwise cause it to be extended to a point where its operation might be unjust. Vaca v. Sipes, supra, at 182-183. If, however, the congressional policies Garmon seeks to promote are not to be swallowed up, the very distinction, embedded within the instant lawsuit itself, between honest, mistaken conduct, on the one hand, and deliberate and severely hostile and irrational treatment, on the other, needs strictly to be maintained.
Finally, we deem it appropriate to discuss briefly two other considerations underlying the conclusion we have reached in this case. First, our decision must not be taken as expressing any views on the substantive claims of the two parties to this controversy. Indeed, our judgment is, quite simply, that it is not the task of federal or state courts to make such determinations. Secondly, in our explication of the reasons for the Garmon rule, and the various exceptions to it, we noted that, although largely of judicial making, the labor relations pre-emption doctrine finds its basic justification in the presumed intent of Congress. While we do not assert that the Garmon doctrine is without imperfection, we do think that it is founded on reasoned principle and that until it is altered by congressional action or by judicial insights that are born of further experience with it, a heavy burden rests upon those who would, at this late date, ask this Court to abandon Garmon and set out again in quest of a system more nearly perfect. A fair regard for considerations of stare decisis and the coordinate role of the Congress in defining the extent to which federal legislation pre-empts state law strongly support our conclusion that the basic tenets of Garmon should not be disturbed.
For the reasons stated above, the judgment below is
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, dissenting.
I would affirm this judgment on the basis of Machinists v. Gonzales, 356 U.S. 617, rather than overrule it. I
When we hold that a grievance is "arguably" within the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board and remit the individual employee to the Board for remedial relief, we impose a great hardship on him, especially where he is a lone individual not financed out of a lush treasury. I would allow respondent recourse to litigation in his home town tribunal and not require him to resort to an elusive remedy in distant and remote Washington, D. C., which takes money to reach.
He has six months within which to file an unfair labor practice charge with the Regional Director and serve it upon the other party. If he does not file within six months, the claim is barred. 29 U. S. C. § 160 (b). The charge must be in writing and contain either a declaration that the contents are true to the best of his knowledge, or else a notarization. 29 CFR § 101.2. When the charge is received, it is filed, docketed, and given a number (29 CFR § 101.4) and assigned to a member of the field staff for investigation. 29 CFR § 101.4.
Following the investigation, the Regional Director makes his decision. "If investigation reveals that there has been no violation of the National Labor Relations Act or the evidence is insufficient to substantiate the charge, the regional director recommends withdrawal of the charge by the person who filed." 29 CFR § 101.5. If the complaining party does not withdraw the charge, the Regional Director dismisses it. 29 CFR § 101.6. Following dismissal, the complainant has 10 days to appeal the decision to the General Counsel who reviews the decision. Ibid. If the General Counsel holds against the complaining party and refuses to issue an unfair labor practice complaint, the decision is apparently unreviewable.
From the viewpoint of an aggrieved employee, there is not a trace of equity in this long-drawn, expensive remedy. If he musters the resources to exhaust the administrative remedy, the chances are that he too will be exhausted. If the General Counsel issues a complaint, then he stands in line for some time waiting for the Board's decision.
From this it follows that if the General Counsel refuses to act, no one may act and the employee is barred from relief in either state or federal court.
When we tell a sole individual that his case is "arguably" within the jurisdiction of the Board, we in practical effect deny him any remedy. I repeat what I said before, "When the basic dispute is between a union and an employer, any hiatus that might exist in the jurisdictional balance that has been struck can be filled by resort to economic power. But when the union member has a dispute with his union, he has no power on which to rely." Plumbers' Union v. Borden, 373 U.S. 690, 700 (dissenting).
Garmon involved a union-employer dispute. It should not be extended to the individual employee who seeks a remedy for his grievance against his union.
It appears that the collective agreement only required Lockridge to be a member of the union as a condition of employment, not a member in good standing. Lockridge, it appears, was one month delinquent in payment of dues but was still a member.
The case for relief by Lockridge in a state court is as strong as, if not stronger than, the case of Gonzales. Lockridge, who was refused employment because of the union's representations to the employer, had never been expelled from the union. On the other hand, Gonzales had been expelled from the union because he brought assault and battery charges against a representative of the union. He sued for restoration of membership and for damages. The state court found that the union had breached its contract with the employee and ordered him reinstated and awarded him damages. 356 U. S., at 618. We sustained the state court, saying that "the subject matter of the litigation . . . was the breach of a contract governing the relations" between the employee and the union and that the "suit did not purport to remedy or regulate union conduct on the ground that it was designed to bring about employer discrimination against an employee, the evil the Board is concerned to strike at as an unfair labor practice under § 8 (b) (2)." Id., at 621-622. We held that in those circumstances the state court had power to order the employee reinstated to membership and was not deprived of jurisdiction to "fill out" his remedy by awarding damages. Id., at 620-621.
Whether in the present case the discharge of Lockridge
We emphasized in the Sipes case that the Garmon rule was "not applicable to cases involving alleged breaches of the union's duty of fair representation." Id., at 181. We held that in this type of case Congress did not intend "to oust the courts of their traditional jurisdiction to curb arbitrary conduct by the individual employee's statutory representative." Id., at 183.
As demonstrated by MR. JUSTICE WHITE in his dissent in this case, the exceptions to the pre-emption rule are so many and so important that they make amazing the Court's uncritical resort to it."
Where the quarrel between the employee and the union is over a particular job, his remedy is before the Board. Plumbers' Union v. Borden, 373 U.S. 690; Iron Workers v. Perko, 373 U.S. 701. But where the union contract is breached by expulsion of the employee, as alleged in Gonzales, or where he is wrongfully treated as no longer being a member of the union (which is the present case) the suit lies in the state court for damages, for declaratory or other relief that he still is a member, and for such other remedies as may be appropriate.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE joins, dissenting.
Like MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, I would neither overrule nor eviscerate Machinist v. Gonzales, 356 U.S. 617 (1958). In light of present statutory law and congressional intention gleaned therefrom, state courts should not be foreclosed from extending relief for union deprivation of members' state law rights under the union constitution and bylaws. Even if I agreed that the doctrine of San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236 (1959), properly pre-empts such union member actions based on state law where the challenged conduct is arguably an unfair labor practice, I could not join the opinion of the Court since it unqualifiedly applies the same doctrine where the conduct of the union is only arguably protected under the federal law.
The Garmon doctrine, which is today reaffirmed and extended, has as its touchstone the presumed congressional goal of a uniform national labor policy; to this end, the Court has believed, the administration of that policy must insofar as is possible be in the hands of a single, centralized agency. In many ways I have no quarrel with this view. Many would agree that as a general matter some degree of uniformity is preferable to the conflicting voices of 50 States, particularly in view of the structure of industrial and commercial activities in this country. Congress determined as much when it enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
But it is time to recognize that Congress has not federalized the entire law of labor relations, even labor-management relations, and that within the area occupied
It is well established that the Board has jurisdiction over unfair labor practices even though they might also be arguable violations of the collective-bargaining agreement and subject to arbitration under the terms of the contract. See 29 U. S. C. § 160 (a); Carey v. Westinghouse Corp., 375 U.S. 261, 272 (1964); NLRB v. Strong, 393 U.S. 357, 360-361 (1969); NLRB v. Acme Industrial Co., 385 U.S. 432 (1967). But as a policy matter the Board will not overturn arbitration awards based on behavior that is also an alleged unfair labor practice if the arbitration proceedings comply with certain procedures, among which is that the arbitrator must have given consideration to the alleged unfair labor practice. Spielberg Mfg. Co., 112 N. L. R. B. 1080 (1955); International Harvester Co., 138 N. L. R. B. 923 (1962), enforced sub nom. Ramsey v. NLRB, 327 F.2d 784 (CA7 1964). The Board has said:
See also Carey v. Westinghouse Corp., supra, at 270-272; Raley's Inc., 143 N. L. R. B. 256 (1963).
Thus, not only does Board policy allow arbitrators to pass on conduct which is also an alleged unfair labor practice, but the Board will not consider an unfair labor practice charge unless the arbitrator has passed on it.
Congress, no less than the Board, has indicated its approval and endorsement of the arbitral process even though this may result in controversies being adjudicated by forums other than the Board. Section 203 (d) of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 1947, 61 Stat. 154, 29 U. S. C. § 173 (d), declares:
See United Steelworkers v. American Mfg. Co., 363 U.S. 564, 566-568 (1960); United Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582 (1960). See also § 10 (k) of NLRA, 29 U. S. C. § 160 (k). Indeed, § 301 (a) of the LMRA, 29 U. S. C. § 185 (a), may be considered the birthplace of much of modern arbitration law. As the Court said in Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, 455 (1957): "[Section 301] expresses a federal policy that federal courts should enforce these [arbitration] agreements on behalf of or against labor organizations and that industrial peace can be best obtained only in that way."
The cumulative effect of all of this is that the jurisdiction of one forum—in this case, arbitration—is not displaced simply because the Board also has jurisdiction to act. The policy of pre-emption and, to some extent, of uniformity itself is subordinated to the greater policy of encouraging arbitration of grievances.
Deference to the arbitral forum is not the only instance where arguable or conceded unfair labor practices are excepted from the pre-emption doctrine. In Smith v. Evening News Assn., 371 U.S. 195 (1962), the employee brought suit under § 301 (a) of the LMRA, 29 U. S. C. § 185 (a), to enforce the collective-bargaining contract, alleging that the employer discriminated against certain employees because of their union affiliation. The conduct, if proved, would not only have been a violation of the contract but would concededly have been an unfair labor practice as well. The Court expressly rejected the Garmon doctrine in the context of such suits, holding that, while Board jurisdiction over unfair labor practices was not displaced when the conduct also allegedly violated the terms of the contract, neither was the jurisdiction exclusive. This result was consistent with the expressed intent of Congress that enforcement of collective-bargaining agreements be "left to the usual processes of the law," rather than to the Board. Charles Dowd Box
These cases, like those dealing with arbitration, indicate a willingness to subordinate the Garmon doctrine when other, more pressing problems are at hand. Here, the policy to be served was that collective-bargaining agreements be enforced by the judiciary, notwithstanding concurrent Board jurisdiction to regulate that activity which was also an unfair labor practice. To be sure, the Court has required that, in the interests of uniform development of the law, state courts must apply federal law. Lucas Flour, supra, at 102-104. But the Court was no less aware in Smith than it had been nine years earlier in Garner v. Teamsters Union, 346 U.S. 485, 490-491 (1953), that: "A multiplicity of tribunals and a diversity of procedures are quite as apt to produce incompatible or conflicting adjudications as are different rules of substantive law." The point is simply that the perceived interest in judicial adjudication of contractual disputes was more important than the interests of uniformity that would be promoted by pre-emption.
In Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171 (1967), this Court refused to apply the pre-emption doctrine to suits charging a breach of the union's duty of fair representation, even though the Board had held that such a breach was also an unfair labor practice. Miranda Fuel Co., 140 N. L. R. B. 181 (1962). Though one reason for this result was that the duty of fair representation had been for the most part developed by the judiciary rather than the Board, the other reason was concern over the possibility of denying a hearing to an employee who felt his individual interests had been unfairly subordinated by the union. The Court expressed fear that, were pre-emption the rule, "the individual employee injured by
Congress has expressly given a federal cause of action for damages to parties injured by secondary union activity under § 8 (b) (4), which may be enforced by suits brought in either state or federal court. 29 U. S. C. § 187 (b). The union's activity giving rise to liability is of necessity an unfair labor practice, but Congress elected to have the question adjudicated in court, even though the activity might be the subject of a parallel and possibly inconsistent determination by the Board. See Teamsters Union v. Morton, 377 U.S. 252, 256 (1964). Of course federal law governs such cases, at least where the union activity is not violent; and presumably the decisions of the NLRB on secondary activity would be consulted for guidance. But the Congress chose not to have the Board hear such suits, even though the Board is probably far more familiar than the courts with the variety of problems posed by secondary activity.
The phenomenon of the no-man's land and the conclusions that can be drawn on pre-emption are also instructive, for they cast substantial doubt not only on the intent of Congress but on the very foundations of Garmon itself. In Guss v. Utah Labor Relations Board, 353 U.S. 1 (1957), the Court held that States were powerless to intervene in labor disputes where the NLRB possessed jurisdiction, even though the Board had refused to assert its jurisdiction because of the "predominantly local" character of the company's operations. The Court conceded that this would likely produce "a vast no-man's-land, subject to regulation by no agency or court," id., at 10, but insisted this was the intent of the Congress and that Congress could change the situation if it desired.
Of some interest is the fact that Garmon was based upon, and expanded to a significant degree, the rationale of Guss:
Yet five months after the announcement of the Garmon decision, Congress in effect overruled Guss and thus at least counseled caution in applying the Garmon rationale.
Even though federal law is pervasive in labor-management relations, state law is preserved in some respects. At first blush, it might seem that these matters present no problems of uniformity, for there is no national law being applied. But the simple fact that Congress and this Court have deferred to the States in these areas indicates a subordination of the interest in uniformity to the interests of the States. By making the matter one of state law, Congress has not only authorized multiformity on the subject, but practically guaranteed it. The results, as far as uniformity is concerned, are no different than if the States applied federal law with abandon. For example, the controversial § 14 (b) of NLRA, 61 Stat. 151, 29 U. S. C. § 164 (b), has authorized States to choose for themselves whether to require or permit union shops. This allows the States to regulate union or agency shop clauses, Algoma Plywood Co. v. Wisconsin Board, 336 U.S. 301 (1949), Retail Clerks v. Schermerhorn, 373 U.S. 746, 375 U.S. 96 (1963), so that union insistence on a security agreement as part of a collective-bargaining
Other examples are familiar. In United Construction Workers v. Laburnum Construction Corp., 347 U.S. 656 (1954), the Court upheld a state court damage award for injuries suffered as a result of the tortious conduct of the union's agent, who threatened violence if the company's employees did not join the union. The Court assumed that the union conduct was an unfair labor practice, seeking as it did to interfere with the employee's § 7 right not to join a labor union. But it noted the inadequacy of the existing Board procedure to provide suitable remedies for those injured as a result of the conduct, and was impressed by the fact that to hold the state courts pre-empted "will, in effect, grant petitioners immunity from liability for their tortious conduct." The Court found "no substantial reason for reaching such a result." 347 U. S., at 664. Accord, Automobile Workers v. Russell, 356 U.S. 634 (1958); Linn v. Plant Guard Workers, 383 U.S. 53, 61-62 (1966). Again, it is entirely possible that some States will require a greater showing of violence than others before awarding damages, so that behavior that violently seeks to coerce union membership will be prohibited in one State and allowed in another. But the interest in uniformity is subordinated to the larger interests that persons injured by such violence have preserved to them whatever remedies state law may authorize.
To summarize, the "rule" of uniformity that the Court invokes today is at best a tattered one, and at worst little more than a myth. In the name of national labor policy, parties are encouraged by the Board, by Congress, and by this Court to seek other forums if
Until today, Machinists v. Gonzales, supra, had been thought to stand for the proposition that Garmon did not reach cases "when the possibility of conflict with federal policy is . . . remote." 356 U. S., at 621. But with today's emasculation of Gonzales, there is probably little that remains of it. Linn v. Plant Guard Workers, 383 U.S. 53 (1966), was ostensibly based in part on this rationale, id., at 59-61, but it was equally bottomed on Laburnum Construction and other cases upholding state power to regulate matters of "overriding state interest" such as violence or, as in Linn, defamation. I see no reason why this exception has not, for all practical purposes, thus expired. In my view, however, and for the reasons set forth in Part II, Gonzales controls this case.
There are two broad, but overlapping, relationships among employers, labor unions, and union members. On the one hand, there is the relationship between employer and employee, generally termed labor-management relations, which involves the union at virtually every step, where the employees have chosen to be represented by one. The other relationship, union-member relations, involves the affairs between the union and the employee as union member.
In enacting the NLRA in 1935, 49 Stat. 449, Congress defined and prohibited unfair labor practices by employers. Experience under the Act showed that labor organizations were quite as capable as employers of pernicious behavior, and in 1947 Congress enacted the Labor Management Relations Act, 61 Stat. 136, which, among other things, protected employees and employers against certain unfair labor practices by labor organizations that were defined by the Act. Protection given employees, whether union members or not, was primarily job related. Although unions were forbidden to restrain or coerce employees in the exercise of their § 7 rights, Congress expressly negated any intention to "impair the right of a labor organization to prescribe its own rules with respect to the acquisition or retention of membership . . . ." 29 U. S. C. § 158 (b) (1). The unmistakable focus of both the NLRA and the LMRA is on labor-management relations, rather than union-member relations, as such.
If this were not clarity enough, Congress also provided in Title I, the "bill of rights":
Beyond any doubt whatever, although Congress directly imposed some far-reaching federal prohibitions on union conduct, it specifically denied any pre-emption of rights or remedies created by either state law or union constitutions and bylaws. Thus, as to union-member relations, any parallel rights created by the States, either directly or indirectly through enforcement of union constitutions or bylaws, were to stand at full strength. Congress backed up this power by requiring unions to make available to members the constitution and bylaws of the union, as well as financial information. § 201, 73 Stat. 524, 29 U. S. C. § 431.
The LMRDA was a major effort by Congress to regulate the rights and responsibilities of the union-member relationship as such, but, as shown by § 603 (a), it was clearly not an attempt to make federal law the exclusive arbiter of this relationship.
If, as I have attempted to show in Part I, the Board is not the sole arbiter even of federal law and if, as I have also attempted to show, there is room for the operation of state law in certain areas of even labor-management relations, then to me the conclusion is inescapable that in the area of union-member relations, which Congress has not sought to deal with comprehensively and where Congress has preserved state remedies for the very conduct prohibited by federal law, we should be very careful about assuming congressional intention to brush aside local rights and remedies. Indeed, far from pre-empting state law, one of the major thrusts of the LMRDA was to enforce state rights and remedies. At the very least, the inquiry presented by this or any other case dealing with union-member relations cannot be
Like many States, Idaho construes the union-member relation to be a contractual one, defined by the constitution and bylaws of the union. As such, the contracts are enforceable through the State's traditional commonlaw jurisdiction. Here, Lockridge was discharged for alleged nonpayment of dues in accordance with the union constitution and brought suit alleging that he had in fact not been unduly tardy and that the union's action was a breach of the contract. The face of the complaint did not implicate federal law. If the Idaho court were allowed to proceed, it would not have purported to adjudicate an unfair labor practice by reference to federal law but, if it found the conduct unprotected by federal law, see Part III, infra, would have enforced rights and obligations created by the union constitution. The Court nevertheless holds that because the union conduct alleged in the complaint also constitutes, or arguably so, an unfair labor practice, the controversy must be adjudicated by the National Labor Relations Board. I find little in the Court's opinion to convince me that Congress intended this result. With all respect, I agree with Gonzales that this result is at best "abstractly justifiable, as a matter of wooden logic." 356 U. S., at 619.
Furthermore, this Court's decision in Smith v. Evening News, supra, seems contrary to the result reached today. Smith held that suits to enforce the collective-bargaining agreement could be brought in state or federal courts under § 301 notwithstanding the fact that the conduct alleged would also constitute an unfair labor practice. Thus, courts enforcing Smith-type actions are dealing in contract rights, not unfair labor practices. There seems little reason why suits for breach of the union-member contract cannot similarly be brought in state courts (or in federal courts in diversity actions), notwithstanding
Indeed, § 301 actions are governed by federal law and even here the NLRB does not pre-empt the courts. There is even less justification for precluding actions under state law in the area of union-member relations which Congress has expressly said is not an exclusively federal domain.
I find no merit in the argument that Congress passed § 301 though recognizing that some § 301 suits would involve unfair labor practices, but, by not providing analogous federal court jurisdiction for breaches of union constitutions, manifested its expectation that breaches which also involve unfair labor practices should be a matter for Board jurisdiction. Some readily imaginable union actions prohibited by Title I of the LMRDA could be unfair labor practices as well, but by providing for federal suit to enforce the remedies, and leaving state remedies untouched, Congress certainly disavowed, as clearly as if it had said so explicitly, any notion that the Board was to pre-empt other forums in passing on statutory breaches which were also unfair labor practices. Arbitration of grievances is a similar situation, since arbitrators, rather than the Board, construe and enforce contractual rights that are breached in the commission of putative unfair labor practices. See Part I, supra.
I have attempted to show in Part II that invocation of Garmon-type pre-emption is inappropriate where a union member brings suit against a union for breach of the union's constitution or bylaws. Wholly apart from such considerations, however, I cannot agree with the opinion of the Court because it reaffirms the Garmon doctrine as applied to conduct arguably protected under § 7, as well as to that arguably prohibited under § 8.
I believe that the considerations that justify exceptions to the rule of uniformity apply with greater force to § 7 situations and further, that basic concepts of
The Assistant General Counsel of the Board has stated the paradox succinctly:
Though the most natural arena for this conflict occurs when picketers trespass on private property, see Taggart v. Weinacker's, Inc., 397 U.S. 223, 227 (1970) (BURGER, C. J., concurring), Broomfield, Preemptive Federal Jurisdiction Over Concerted Trespassory Union Activity, 83 Harv. L. Rev. 552 (1970), other instances include "quickie" strikes or slowdowns, see NLRB v. Holcombe, 325 F.2d 508 (CA5 1963), or employees' inaccurate complaints to state officials about sanitary conditions in the plant, Walls Mfg. Co. v. NLRB, 116 U. S. App. D. C. 140, 321 F.2d 753 (1963), or collective activity designed to persuade the employer to hire Negroes, NLRB v. Tanner Motor Livery, Ltd., 349 F.2d 1 (CA9 1965), or failure to participate in a union check-off, Radio Officers' Union v. NLRB, 347 U.S. 17, 24-28, 39-42 (1954).
The exceptions to the pre-emption rule are so many and so important as to cast substantial doubt on the Court's uncritical resort to it, as I have attempted to show in Part I. When considered in conjunction with arguably protected activity, however, these exceptions do more than mock the rule; they illustrate substantively why invocation of the rule against such activity is a disservice to the greater interests of national labor policy. For example, the refusal to pre-empt arbitrable disputes serves the policy of encouraging arbitration, a policy universally agreed to be of greater importance than uniformity. See Part I, supra. The policy at stake in § 7 cases is simply to secure a resolution of the dispute rather than none at all. Yet the Court's opinion would insist on pre-empting such disputes from the States even though there is no way to present them to the Board. If the Board refused to hear a dispute alleging an unfair labor practice because it wished to encourage arbitration, but ignored the fact that the parties had no arbitration clause in their contract, we could hardly consider arbitration to have been encouraged. But, with all respect, the Court's opinion today is just as exasperating.
Similarly, in holding that alleged breaches of the union's duty of fair representation were not pre-empted, Vaca v. Sipes, supra, the Court was apprehensive that the worker would be without a forum if the General
Finally, it must be mentioned that in precluding the aggrieved party from a hearing, we are following a particularly disfavored course. The importance in our jurisprudence of the opportunity for a hearing need not be reviewed, but at the very least it teaches that where persons with otherwise justiciable claims cannot obtain a hearing under the law, the law is subject to close scrutiny to discover the circumstances compelling this result. There is precious little in the Garmon doctrine that justifies its existence as to § 7 activities under this test. Certainly neither the evidence of congressional intent nor the presumed but overdrawn interest in uniformity is adequate to justify denial of a hearing.
Most cases concerning the hearing requirement are those where some adverse consequence is visited upon the individual unless he can explain his side of the story, Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535 (1971), or where there is continuing conflict and dissatisfaction with no tribunal available to fashion relief. Cf. Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371 (1971). The problems seem similar to those facing us here. In a § 7 case, the employer is faced with, for example, picketing that turns away customers and suppliers and inflicts progressive economic
The majority's treatment of this important issue is deficient. It says only that treating judicial power to deal with arguably protected activity different from the power to deal with prohibited activity would be "unsatisfactory," since "[b]oth areas equally involve conduct whose legality is governed by federal law, the application of which Congress committed to the Board, not courts." Ante, at 290. I have no quarrel with the first point—by definition federal law will determine if federal law protects the conduct from state proscription; but I hardly see how that alone pre-empts state courts. See Dowd Box, Lucas Flour, Smith v. Evening News, Teamsters Union v. Morton, 377 U.S. 252 (1964). As to the second point, the fact is that Congress has not committed the arguably protected area exclusively to the Board. It has provided no mechanism for § 7 cases to get before the Board except where conduct threatens § 7 rights; nor has its functionary, the Board, opened a path to its door for those who seek to ascertain whether conduct threatening them is truly protected by federal law and hence unassailable under local law. Congress found the noman's land created by Guss unacceptable precisely because there was no way to have rights determined. In terms of congressional intention I find it unsupportable to hold that one threatened by conduct illegal under state law may not proceed against it because it is arguably protected by federal law when he has absolutely no lawful method for determining whether that is actually, as well as arguably, the case. Particularly is this true where the dispute is between a union and its members and the latter are asserting claims under state law based
MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN also dissents for the basic reasons set forth by MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS and MR. JUSTICE WHITE in their respective dissenting opinions.
Further, MR. JUSTICE WHITE apparently regards the remedial aspects of the federal scheme as unimportant to those who designed it. For example, assuming arguendo that petitioner's conduct was prohibited under both federal and state law, he would deem it of no national significance if one State punished such conduct with a jail sentence, and another utilized punitive damages, while the NLRB merely awarded back pay. His position apparently is that Congress considered any state tribunal equally capable, with the Board, of assessing the appropriateness of a given remedy and was unconcerned about disparities in the reactions of the States to unlawful union behavior. This argument, too, seems incompatible with the simple fact that Congress committed enforcement of the federal law here involved to a centralized agency.
For these reasons, MR. JUSTICE WHITE'S analogies do not persuade us. Unlike the problem here under review, Congress did not put enforcement of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 into the hands of the Board. 73 Stat. 519. And it affirmatively expressed an intention that the Board not possess preemptive jurisdiction over suits to enforce collective bargaining agreements. See Part III, infra.
Pending July 1, 1968................................... 7,377 Received fiscal 1969................................... 18,651 On docket fiscal 1969.................................. 26,028 Closed fiscal 1969..................................... 18,939 Pending June 30, 1969.................................. 7,089
Table 8, p. 212, shows that the 18,939 unfair labor practice cases in 1969 were closed as follows:
Before issuance of complaint........................... 16,135 After issuance of complaint, before opening of hearing.. 1,251 After hearing opened, before issuance of Trial Examiner's decision.............................................. 186 After Trial Examiner's decision, before issuance of Board decision.............................................. 134 After Board order adopting Trial Examiner's decision in absence of exceptions................................. 131 After Board decision, before circuit court decree....... 606 After circuit court decree, before Supreme Court action.. 427 After Supreme Court action............................... 69
Of the foregoing—
In only 5.7% did the Board issue orders. Id., at 4.
Before an agency may issue a declaratory order, it must have independent subject matter jurisdiction. But we held in Red Lion, supra, that the FCC's declaratory order in that case could be sustained on any of several grounds including the requirement that the FCC see that the "public interest be served" in granting and renewing licenses. So here, the argument for Board jurisdiction would be that it is empowered to "prevent any person from engaging in any unfair labor practice." 29 U. S. C. § 160 (a). If, as pointed out earlier, the price of not resorting to an adequate forum for resolution of the § 7 status can be the commission of an unfair labor practice, the power of the Board to prevent unfair labor practices gives it jurisdiction to issue such § 7 declaratory orders. Such an order finding certain conduct protected would override state law, but would be reviewable. If the conduct was found unprotected, there would be no barrier to suits based on state law.