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Industrial Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers of America v. National Labor Relations Board

decided: June 22, 1967.

INDUSTRIAL UNION OF MARINE AND SHIPBUILDING WORKERS OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, LOCAL 22, PETITIONERS
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, RESPONDENT



Hastie and Seitz, Circuit Judges, and Body, District Judge.

Author: Hastie

HASTIE, Circuit Judge.

On the petition of an international union and one of its locals for the review of an unfair labor practice decision and order, 159 NLRB No. 95, and a cross-petition of the National Labor Relations Board for enforcement of the order, we here consider the merits of the Board's so-called Skura rule, as recently adopted in Local 138, International Union of Operating Engineers and Charles S. Skura, 1964, 148 NLRB 679, and sanctioned by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in Roberts v. NLRB, 1965, 121 U.S. App. D.C. 297, 350 F.2d 427.

The alleged unfair labor practice in this case is the union's conduct in discharging Edwin Holder from union membership because he had filed with the Board an unfair labor practice charge against the local and its president without first exhausting prescribed and available remedies within the labor organization.

Holder had filed intra-union charges with his local, alleging that the local president had wrongfully caused Holder's employer to discriminate against him because of "certain legally protected activity". Except for the quoted phrase, the present record does not disclose details or even the substance of Holder's complaint. The local considered and dismissed these charges. The International Constitution of the union provided for an appeal from the decision of a local to the General Executive Board of the International. It also required that any member "aggrieved by any action of . . . a local . . . shall exhaust all remedies and appeals within the Union, provided by this Constitution, before he shall resort to any court or other tribunal outside of the Union". Disregarding this requirement and without taking any intra-union appeal from the local's decision, Holder filed with the Board an unfair labor practice charge against the local, alleging the same conduct of which he had unsuccessfully complained to the local. Here again, the present record fails to specify the details of that conduct. The General Counsel refused to issue a complaint and the unfair labor practice charge was dismissed.

Shortly thereafter, Holder was charged before the trial board of his local with violation of the above cited provision of the International Constitution. He was found guilty and expelled from membership. He then appealed to the General Executive Board of the International which confirmed his expulsion.

Holder next initiated the present unfair labor practice proceeding, charging that the labor organization had violated section 8(b) (1)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. ยง 158(b)(1) (A), by coercing him in the exercise of rights guaranteed by section 7 of the Act. Applying the Skura rule, the Board found a violation as charged and issued the unfair labor practice order which is now before us.

Section 8(b)(1)(A) reads in pertinent part as follows:

"It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents --

"(1) to restrain or coerce (A) employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7: Provided, That this paragraph shall not impair the right of a labor organization to prescribe its own rules with respect to the acquisition or retention of membership therein . . ."

Thus, the only rights which this subsection protects are those contained in section 7, which reads in its entirety as follows:

"Employees shall have the rights to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have 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)."

Accordingly, our first inquiry is whether section 7 protects an employee's asserted right to complain to the Board of his union's alleged unfair interference with his "legally protected activity" without first exhausting his remedy within the union as required by the union's constitution.

It will be observed that section 7 says nothing about any right to file charges with the Board. That section is concerned exclusively with an employee's freedom to unionize, to bargain collectively, and to engage in other concerted activities, as well as the concomitant freedom to refrain from participating in such organized or concerted activity. These freedoms are, by necessary implication, attended by a remedial right of the employee to charge coercive abridgement of them in an unfair labor practice proceeding before the Board. Thus, a section 8(b)(1)(A) unfair labor practice can be established here by ...


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