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National Labor Relations Board v. Clapper's Manufacturing Inc.

decided: March 8, 1972.

NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, PETITIONER
v.
CLAPPER'S MANUFACTURING, INC., RESPONDENT



Van Dusen and James Hunter, III, Circuit Judges, and Layton, Senior District Judge.

Author: Hunter

James HUNTER, III C. J.:

The National Labor Relations Board ("Board") determined that the respondent-employer, Clapper's Manufacturing, Inc., ("Clapper's") had committed unfair labor practices within the meaning of Sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(2) of the National Labor Relations Act, ("Act") 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1) and (2). The Board now seeks the customary enforcement order.

Clapper's is engaged in the manufacturing of plastic laminated furniture tops in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. In the early spring of 1968, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners ("Union") began what became a heated and protracted campaign to organize the company's employees. Clapper's vigorously sought to counteract this effort. The Union petitioned the Board for an election which was subsequently held on November 22, 1968. The Union was defeated by a vote of 86-57. Objections to the election as well as additional charges of unfair labor practices were filed by the Union and pursuant to the parties' stipulation, the Regional Director of the Board set aside the results and ordered that another election be held on June 20, 1969. Upon losing this second election the Union filed objections and on July 8, 1969, filed charges of additional unfair labor practices. These latter objections were consolidated for hearing with the unfair labor practice cases initiated by the November 1968 and July 1969 charges.

In opposing the instant application for enforcement, Clapper's contends that (1) statements made by company president, Dale Clapper, and his supervisory personnel were not violative of Section 8(a)(1); (2) there was no interference with any "labor organization" as defined by Section 2(5) of the Act; and (3) the case should be remanded for further hearing since the procedure followed by the Trial Examiner in excising portions of certain pretrial affidavits of Board witnesses deprived the company of due process. We find no merit to these contentions.

I

Section 8(a)(1), 29 U.S.C. § 158 prohibits an employer from interfering with, restraining or coercing his employees in the exercise of those rights guaranteed by Section 7 of this Act.*fn1 After reviewing the Trial Examiner's evaluation of the relevant events and often conflicting testimony of the parties,*fn2 the Board concluded that Clapper's, through the actions of Dale Clapper and various supervisory personnel, violated Section 8(a)(1) on the following occasions:

1. Coercive Interrogations

On June 29, 1969 -- the evening before the second election -- Dale Clapper questioned employee Alfred Murray as to "how [he thought] the election is going to go" and how several of his fellow employees planned to vote in the upcoming election. On another occasion -- in October of 1968 -- Clapper entered into a discussion with employee Herman Sines and asked him what he thought "about the union business."

2. Threats of Economic Reprisals

In October of 1968, Dale Clapper told employees Herman and Thelma Sines that if the "Union got in, [they] would be the first ones out because Plant #2 would be closed down." On a second occasion that month, supervisor Milton Sines (Thelma's brother-in-law) stated to Mrs. Sines that, if the "Union came in [she] would be out of work altogether because building two would be closed down . . . and that anybody else pushing for the Union would be the first to go when building #2 closed down."

3. Company Surveillance

On the day of the second election, a company supervisor, Walter Lenhart, engaged employee Patricia Ross in a brief conversation which was concluded by his question as to whether "there was anyone else in the plant that [Mrs. Ross] thought he should talk to" and "how [Mrs. Ross] thought the election is going to go." That afternoon Lenhart approached employee Roger Wahl and indicated that ...


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