National Labor Relations Board v. Rockaway News Supply Company/Dissent Black

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Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinion

United States Supreme Court

345 U.S. 71

National Labor Relations Board  v.  Rockaway News Supply Company

 Argued: Jan. 14, 1953. --- Decided: March 9, 1953

Mr. Justice BLACK, with whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS and Mr. Justice MINTON concur, dissenting.

Section 7 of the Taft-Hartley Act recognizes a right of employees to work together in 'concerted activities' for their mutual aid and protection. One way some union men help others is to refrain from crossing picket lines. Habitual respect for union picket lines has long been the practice of union men. This practice has been a prized asset of the unions. The Taft-Hartley Act was designed to regulate and restrict the type of concerted activities in which employees could engage. But even that Act did not attempt to deprive unions of the advantage of a policy that required union men to respect picket lines. In § 8(b)(4)(D) of the Act, Congress specifically declared that none of its union-restrictive provisions should be construed to make it unlawful for a man to refuse to cross a picket line thrown up to support a lawful strike. Consequently I agree with the Labor Board that it was an unfair labor practice for this employer to discharge a union employee who refused to cross a picket line. In holding to the contrary I think the Court takes away rights of employees that the Taft-Hartley Act left standing.

I say this despite the fact that the Court's opinion is based upon its interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement. In the first place, I would accept the Labor Board's holding that the contract did not conform to the requirements of the Taft-Hartley law. It seems to me an unwise precedent for the Court to substitute its judgment about ths contract for that of the Board. In the second place, I can find no language in that contract which would justify the discharge of the employee here because he insisted upon respecting a union picket line-a right reserved to each employee by reason of § 8(b)(4) (D) of the Act. Believing that the Court departs from the Act's policy in holding as it does, I would affirm the Board's order.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).