National Labor Relations Board v. Gissel Packing Co.
United States Supreme Court
395 U.S. 575 (1969)
Employers Gissel Packing Co., General Steel Products, Inc., Heck’s, Inc., and the Sinclair Company (defendants) refused to recognize unions with unambiguous authorization cards signed by a majority of employees. Instead the employers campaigned against the unions, threatened employees with reprisals, and two discharged employees. Sinclair’s president claimed unionizing would permanently close the plant, baselessly attributed nearby plants closing to unionism, and stressed that the ages and skills of Sinclair workers would make finding other jobs difficult. After losing two elections, the unions filed unfair-labor-practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (plaintiff). The NLRB found multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), set aside the failed elections, and ordered the employers to bargain with the unions. The employers appealed. In three appeals, the Fourth Circuit affirmed NLRA violations but reversed the bargaining orders, reasoning that authorization cards were unreliable. But the First Circuit concluded that the authorization cards required Sinclair to bargain and that its president could not implicitly threaten job loss. Sinclair argued that it had a protected right to express opinions about unionism under the First Amendment and the NLRA. The Supreme Court consolidated the appeals and granted review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Warren, C.J.)
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