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Barton Brands, Ltd. v. National Labor Relations Board
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
529 F.2d 793 (1976)
Glencoe and Barton Brands, Ltd. (Barton) (defendant) were separate companies, and their employees each comprised a bargaining unit represented by the same union (the union) (defendant). Glencoe, which had six active employees and had laid off 20 others, sold all its assets to Barton, which had hundreds of employees. After the sale, Barton and the union negotiated an integration of the bargaining units into one, including the return of Glencoe’s laid-off employees. Barton planned to build a new facility at the Glencoe plant. Barton’s and Glencoe’s employees believed it would be in their best interest to combine the employees’ seniority on a single list (dovetailing). Glencoe’s employees retained their full seniority, placing certain Barton employees lower on the list than they otherwise would be. Barton employees agreed to dovetailing under the assumption that they would be allowed to transfer to the new plant. Barton did not end up building the new plant, and Barton sold a part of its business, which led to layoffs. Due to job apprehension, bargaining-unit employees began favoring a proposal to move former Glencoe employees down on the seniority list below all Barton employees who were hired before the Glencoe purchase (endtailing). The union initially demurred but ultimately presented the proposal during negotiations over a new collective-bargaining agreement. Barton agreed to endtail former Glencoe employees for purposes of layoffs. Subsequently, 12 former Glencoe employees who would have retained their jobs under dovetailing were laid off under endtailing. A laid-off employee (plaintiff) filed unfair-labor-practice charges against the union and Barton before the National Labor Relations Board (the board). The board found the union breached its duty of fair representation as to the former Glencoe employees in order to advance the political cause of a union official, Ken Cecil. (Cecil was the union’s vice-president, had championed endtailing, and successfully won reelection afterward.) The matter came before the Seventh Circuit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bauer, J.)
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