Rehearing Denied May 28, 1945
Miss Ruth Weyand, of Washington, D.C., for National Labor Relations Board.
Mr. A. C. Wheeler, of Gainesville, Ga., for respondent Le Tourneau Co.
Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.
In the Republic Aviation Corporation case, the employer, a large and rapidly growing military aircraft manufacturer, adopted, well before any union activity at the plant, a general rule against soliciting which read as follows: [324 U.S. 793, 795] 'Soliciting of any type cannot be permitted in the factory or offices.'
The Republic plant was located in a built-up section of Suffolk County, New York. An employee persisted after being warned of the rule in soliciting union membership in the plant by passing out application cards to employees on his own time during lunch periods. The employee was discharged for infraction of the rule and, as the National Labor Relations Board found, without discrimination on the part of the employer toward union activity.
Three other employees were discharged for wearing UAW-CIO union steward buttons in the plant after being requested to remove the insignia. The union was at that time active in seeking to organize the pla t. The reason which the employer gave for the request was that as the union was not then the duly designated representative of the employees, the wearing of the steward buttons in the plant indicated an acknowledgment by the management of the authority of the stewards to represent the employees in dealing with the management and might impinge upon the employer's policy of strict neutrality in union matters and might interfere with the existing grievance system of the corporation.
The Board was of the view that wearing union steward buttons by employees did not carry any implication of recognition of that union by the employer where, as here, there was no competing labor organization in the plant. The discharges of the stewards, however, were found not to be motivated by opposition to the particular union, or we deduce, to unionism.
The Board determined that the promulgation and enforcement of the 'no solicitation' rule violated Section 8(1) of the National Labor Relations Act as it interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in their rights under Section 7 and discriminated against the discharged employee [324 U.S. 793, 796] under Section 8(3). 1 It determined also that the discharge of the stewards violated Section 8(1) and 8(3). As a consequence of its conclusions as to the solicitation and the wearing of the insignia, the Board entered the usual cease and desist order and directed the reinstatement of the discharged employees with back pay and also the rescission of 'the rule against solicitation in so far as it prohibits union activity and solicitation on company property during the employees' own time.' 51 N.L.R.B. 1186, 1189. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed, 142 F.2d 193, and we granted certiorari, 323 U.S. 688 , 65 S.Ct. 55, because of conflict with the decisions of other circuits.