National Labor Relations Board v. Virginia Electric & Power Co.

314 U.S. 469 (1941)

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National Labor Relations Board v. Virginia Electric & Power Co.

United States Supreme Court
314 U.S. 469 (1941)

  • Written by Patricia Peters, JD

Facts

The United States Supreme Court upheld the National Labor Relations Act in 1937. Shortly after, on April 26, 1937, the Virginia Electric & Power Company (the company) (defendant) posted a bulletin encouraging employees to deal with the company directly instead of through a union. In response to resulting requests from employees, the company had employee-selected representatives attend meetings led by company officials. At the meetings, which took place on May 24, 1937, company officials read speeches urging the creation of an “inside” organization. Shortly after, the company held meetings at which company employees voted to create an inside union called the Independent Organization of Employees (the Independent). In August, the Independent and the company executed an agreement. In the following months, a company superintendent surveilled meetings of a Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) union and warned employees that they would be fired for “messing with the CIO.” Additionally, the company fired two employees for their activities in outside unions and fired two other employees for refusing to join the Independent. A CIO union and two American Federation of Labor (AFL) unions instituted proceedings with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (plaintiff). The NLRB found that the company had committed unfair labor practices in violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Specifically, the NLRB found that the April 26 bulletin and the May 24 speeches coerced company employees and therefore amounted to unfair labor practices. The NLRB issued an order in accordance with its findings. The company argued that the NLRB findings violated the First Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit set aside the NLRB order. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, J.)

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