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National Labor Relations Board v. Gissel Packing Co.

United States Supreme Court
395 U.S. 575 (1969)


Facts

In 1952, a union organized a strike at the Sinclair Company (defendant) that lasted three months and lost employee support. When another union began organizing Sinclair employees in 1965, its president urged employees not to join. The president emphasized that the earlier strike almost put Sinclair out of business and called the union “strike-happy,” warning it would make unreasonable demands necessitating a strike that would permanently close the plant. The president stressed that the age and limited skills of the employees would make it difficult to find other jobs. The president also attributed the closing of other plants in the area to unionism without any factual basis. The union lost the election by one vote and filed objections, claiming that Sinclair’s president implicitly threatened employees with job loss. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (plaintiff) set aside the results, finding that Sinclair committed unfair labor practices by making implicit threats and refusing to bargain with the union. Sinclair appealed, arguing that its president had a right to state opinions about unionism protected under both the First Amendment and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Warren, C.J.)

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