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United Parcel Service Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

decided: April 18, 1983.



Gibbons, Hunter and Rosenn, Circuit Judges. Rosenn, Circuit Judge, Concurring and Dissenting.

Author: Hunter


HUNTER, Circuit Judge:

On May 21, 1982, the National Labor Relations Board ("Board") issued a decision and order holding that United Parcel Service, Inc. ("UPS") had committed certain unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 151-169 (1976 & Supp. V 1981) ("Act"). The Board held that UPS had violated section 8(a)(1) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1) (1976), by promulgating, maintaining, and enforcing an unlawfully broad no-distribution of literature rule. It also held that UPS had violated sections 8(a)(1), 8(a)(3), and 8(a)(4) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(1), (a)(3), (a)(4) (1976), by unlawfully discharging Robert W. Bowlds and David E. Perkins, two UPS employees.

This action is a petition for review and a cross-application for enforcement of that order. For the reasons stated herein we will enforce in part, and we will remand in part.


A. Driver Robert Bowlds

Bowlds was originally hired by UPS in 1965.For the six or seven years prior to the instant unfair labor proceeding, he worked as a "feeder driver" out of UPS's Owensboro, Kentucky facility.*fn1 Bowlds also served as the Teamsters Local 89 steward at the Owensboro terminal.*fn2 In his position as steward Bowlds filed grievances, participated in grievance hearings, and assisted the Professional Drivers Council ("PROD"), a Teamsters' organization. Since 1975 Bowlds had also been a member of "UPSurge," a nationwide organization of UPS employees dedicated to improving their wages, hours, and working conditions. Bowlds testified that he had been openly involved with both UPSurge and PROD at the Owensboro terminal*fn3 and had distributed their literature in the presence of UPS supervisors. App. at 413a-15a, 419a-23a.*fn4

Bowlds had a running history of disputes with UPS. On April 24, 1978, UPS discharged Bowlds, assertedly because he falsified his timecard and overextended his rest breaks.*fn5 On May 8, 1978, as a result of a contractual grievance proceeding, Bowlds was reinstated, and the discharge was converted into a suspension. On May 24, 1978, Bowlds was issued a "final warning" for taking excessive time on his breaks. That warning was rescinded on June 14, 1978, also after a grievance proceeding. On August 4, 1978, UPS discharged Bowlds for a second time, again asserting that he had overextended his breaks and falsified his timecard.On October 3, 1978, a grievance panel reduced the discharge to a "Disciplinary Suspension and Final Warning."

Both the May 24, 1978 final warning letter and the August 4, 1978 discharge were the subject of an unfair labor practice proceeding brought by the General Counsel against UPS. The Board held that those actions violated sections 8(a)(1) and 8(a)(3) the Act. United Parcel Service, Inc., 252 N.L.R.B. 1015, 1019 (1980), enforced, 677 F.2d 421 (6th Cir. 1982) (" United Parcel Service I ").*fn6 The Board issued a cease and desist order, awarded Bowlds back pay, and ordered the May 24, 1978 warning letter expunged from his file. United Parcel Service I, 252 N.L.R.B. at 1016, 1023.

UPS claims that in July and August of 1979 it again became concerned about Bowlds' consistent late arrival at the Owensboro Center. The Company decided to observe Bowlds on the night of August 27-28 during one of his normally scheduled runs.*fn7 According to the supervisors who trailed him, Bowlds overstayed his allotted rest periods on that run by forty-three minutes. On the next night the Company suspended Bowlds allegedly for overextending his breaks and falsifying his timecard. Three days later UPS informed Bowlds that he was discharged.

B. Driver David Perkins

Perkins has been employed at UPS's Campbellsville, Kentucky facility as a feeder driver since 1971 and, like Bowlds, has actively been involved with union activity. He testified that he had openly distributed UPSurge and PROD material at Campbellsville several times, and that he had collected money and solicited signatures for the class action suit brought by Bowlds against UPS.

On February 14, 1979, Perkins filed a grievance protesting UPS's alleged failure to assign him sufficient work. That grievance was resolved against him. App. at 90a; 648a-50a. Perkins testified that two weeks later he had a conversation with Tom Mouser, the Campbellsville Terminal Manager, about obtaining some work pants. According to Perkins, Mouser stated: "Perkins, we're trying to figure out a way to fire your ass anyway. We won't have to get you any." App. at 652a. That statement was made in front of two other employees, Bobby Pierce and Eddy O'Banion, who both corroborated Perkins' version of events. App. at 150a; 224a-25a, 234a-35a, 652a-53a.

Perkins also stated that in February or March of 1979, Mouser approached him at the Campbellsville facility and brought up the subject of UPSurge. He testified:

[Mouser] asked me if I had been distributing some papers around Campbellsville, and I said yes. And I told him we had the right to as long as the man wasn't on the clock working.

And he responded, "Well, I'd rather you didn't do it."

App. at 643a. At the time Mouser made his statement, Perkins was not distributing literature. Perkins testified that despite Mouser's statement, he continued to distribute UPSurge material at least two more times over the next few months. App. at 644a-45a.

UPS contends that throughout the summer of 1979, Perkins habitually returned late to Campbellsville after completing his regularly scheduled route. In conjunction with its observation of Bowlds, UPS decided to observe Perkins on the night of August 27-28.Company supervisors testified that they followed Perkins to a rest stop where they observed him overstay his rest break. On the next evening Perkins' supervisor told him that he was suspended for overextending ...

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