Define the term hot cargo clause

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Reference no: EM131281298

Under The Landrum-Griffin Act amendments enacted in 1959, Section 8(b)(4)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act became Section 8(b)(4)(B) and Section 8(e) was added. The questions here are whether, in the circumstances of this case, the Metropolitan District Council of Philadelphia and Vicinity of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, AFL-CIO (hereafter the Union), committed the unfair labor practices prohibited by Section 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B). Frouge Corporation, a Bridgeport, Connecticut, concern, was the general contractor on a housing project in Philadelphia. Frouge had a collective bargaining agreement with the Carpenters' International Union under which Frouge agreed to be bound by the rules and regulations agreed upon by local unions with contractors in areas in which Frouge had jobs. Frouge was therefore subject to the provisions of a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and an organization of Philadelphia contractors, the General Building Contractors Association, Inc.

A sentence in a provision of that agreement entitled Rule 17 provides that "... No member of this District Council will handle ... any doors ... which have been fitted prior to being furnished on the job ..." Frouge's Philadelphia project called for 3,600 doors. Customarily, before the doors could be hung on such projects, "blank" or "blind" doors would be mortised for the knob, routed for the hinges, and beveled to make them fit between jambs. These are tasks traditionally performed in the Philadelphia area by the carpenters employed on the jobsite. However, precut and prefitted doors ready to hang may be purchased from door manufacturers.

Although Frouge's contract and job specifications did not call for premachined doors, and "blank" or "blind" doors could have been ordered, Frouge contracted for the purchase of premachined doors from a Pennsylvania door manufacturer which is a member of the National Woodwork Manufacturers Association, petitioner in No. 110 and respondent in No. 111. The Union ordered its carpenter members not to hang the doors when they arrived at the jobsite. Frouge thereupon withdrew the prefabricated doors and substituted "blank" doors which were fitted and cut by its carpenters on the jobsite.

The National Woodwork Manufacturers Association filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the Union alleging that by including the "will not handle" sentence of Rule 17 in the collective bargaining agreement the Union committed the unfair labor practice under Section 8(e) of entering into an "agreement ... whereby the employer ... agrees to cease or refrain from handling ... any of the products of any other employer....," and alleging further that in enforcing the sentence against Frouge, the Union committed the unfair labor practice under Section 8(b)(4)(B) of "forcing or requiring any person to cease using ... the products of any other ... manufacturer...."

The Landrum-Griffin Act amendments of 1959 were adopted only to close various loopholes in the application of Section 8(b)(4)(A) which had been exposed in Board and court decisions....This loophole closing measure ... did not expand the type of conduct which Section 8(b)(4)(A) condemned. Although the language of Section 8(e) is sweeping, it closely tracks that of Section 8(b)(4) (A), and just as the latter and its successor Section 8(b)(4)(B) did not reach employees' activity to pressure their employer to preserve for themselves work traditionally done by them, Section 8(e) does not prohibit agreements made and maintained for that purpose.... The Woodwork Manufacturers Association and amici who support its position advance several reasons, grounded in economic and technological factors, why "will not handle" clauses should be invalid in all circumstances.

Those arguments are addressed to the wrong branch of government. It may be that the time has come for a reevaluation of the basic content of collective bargaining as contemplated by the federal legislation. But that is for Congress.... The determination whether the "will not handle" sentence of Rule 17 and its enforcement violated Section 8(e) and 8(b)(4)(B) cannot be made without an inquiry into whether, under all the surrounding circumstances, the Union's objective was preservation of work for Frouge's employees, or whether the agreements and boycott were tactically calculated to satisfy union objectives elsewhere.

Were the latter the case, Frouge, the boycotting employer, would be a neutral bystander, and the agreement or boycott would, within the intent of Congress, become secondary. There need not be an actual dispute with the boycotted employer, here the door manufacturer, for the activity to fall within this category, so long as the tactical object of the agreement and its maintenance is that employer, or benefits to other than the boycotting employees or other employees of the primary employer thus making the agreement or boycott secondary in its aim. The touchstone is whether the agreement or its maintenance is addressed to the labor relations of the contracting employer vis-á-vis his own employees. This will not always be a simple test to apply. But "[h]owever difficult the task of drawing of lines more nice than obvious, the statute compels the task."

That the "will not handle" provision was not an unfair labor practice in this case is clear. The finding of the Trial Examiner, adopted by the Board, was that the objective of the sentence was preservation of work traditionally performed by the jobsite carpenters. This finding is supported by substantial evidence, and therefore the Union's making of the "will not handle" agreement was not a violation of Section 8(e). Similarly, the Union's maintenance of the provision was not a violation of Section 8(b)(4)(B). The Union refused to hang prefabricated doors whether or not they bore a union label, and even refused to install prefabricated doors manufactured off the jobsite by members of the Union. This and other substantial evidence supported the finding that the conduct of the Union on the Frouge jobsite related solely to preservation of the traditional tasks of the jobsite carpenters. The judgment is affirmed in No. 110, and reversed in No. 111. It is so ordered.

Case Questions

1. Define the term hot cargo clause.

2. Why was Section 8(e) of the Landrum-Griffin Act made law?

3. What test did the Supreme Court set out for determining whether the "will not handle" clause and its enforcement were in violation of Section 8(e) and Section 8(b)(4)(B)?

4. State the findings of the Supreme Court concerning the objective of the union's "will not handle" clause.

Reference no: EM131281298

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