National Labor Relations Board v. United Steelworkers of America (NuTone and Avondale)

357 U.S. 357 (1958)

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National Labor Relations Board v. United Steelworkers of America (NuTone and Avondale)

United States Supreme Court
357 U.S. 357 (1958)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Two cases were consolidated for the Supreme Court’s review. In NuTone, Inc., a steelworkers union began a campaign to organize the employees of NuTone, which manufactured electrical devices. During the campaign, NuTone distributed antiunion literature to its employees while at the same time enforcing a rule that prohibited employees’ signs, soliciting, and campaigning on company time. The no-solicitation rule was applicable to all employees, regardless of their union views. The National Labor Relations Board (the board) found that NuTone had committed a number of unfair labor practices during the campaign but dismissed the allegation that the company had discriminatorily enforced its no-solicitation rule. The court of appeals modified the board’s order, concluding that it was an unfair labor practice to prohibit employees’ organizational literature while the company itself engaged in the same conduct. In Avondale, an organizational campaign was initiated by a textile-workers’ union at Avondale Mills (Avondale). Among other conduct, Avondale solicited employees to withdraw their support of the union while at the same time enforcing a rule that prohibited employees from soliciting union membership at the company’s plants. The board ordered Avondale to cease its unfair labor practices. The court of appeals enforced the board’s order, except as to a finding that Avondale’s no-solicitation rule was discriminatory. The Supreme Court was called on to decide whether an imbalance in communication channels between employers and organizing unions, on the one hand, and voting employees, on the other hand, constituted an unfair labor practice.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Frankfurter, J.)

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