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Bell Aerospace Co. v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
475 F.2d 485 (1973)


Facts

Bell Aerospace Co. (Bell) (plaintiff) employed buyers to supply its factories. Bell’s buyers wished to unionize but could not, because buyers were considered managerial employees by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (defendant). The NLRB had prohibited managerial employees from unionizing, deeming those employees too entwined with management to come within the protections of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 553, federal agencies could make new rules by a process called notice-and-comment rulemaking. Federal agencies could also informally make rules through adjudication, or the process of determining licenses and benefits on a case-by-case basis. In response to agitation to unionize by the buyers at Bell, the NLRB reversed its positions regarding the status of buyers and managerial employees. By way of adjudication, the NLRB determined that buyers were not managerial employees and that even managerial employees could, with certain limitations, unionize.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Friendly, C.J.)

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