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Mastro Plastics Corp. v. Labor Board, 350 U.S. 270 (1956)

Mastro Plastics Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board

No. 19

Argued October 17, 1955

Decided February 27, 1956

350 U.S. 270


1. In the collective bargaining contract here involved, the union's undertaking "to refrain from engaging in any strike or work stoppage during the term of this agreement" did not waive the employees' right to strike solely in protest against unfair labor practices of their employers. Pp. 350 U. S. 279-284.

(a) The words "any strike" do not exclude all room for interpretation or necessarily include all strikes, even those against unlawful practices destructive of the foundation upon which collective bargaining must rest. Pp. 350 U. S. 281-283.

(b) Section 13 of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, providing that

"Nothing in this Act, except as specifically provided for herein, shall be construed so as either to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike, or to affect the limitations or qualifications on that right,"

does not preclude reliance upon the Act for support of this interpretation of the strike waiver clause. Pp. 350 U. S. 283-284.

2. In the circumstances of this case, including the express finding of the National Labor Relations Board that the purpose of the strike here involved was not to "terminate or modify" the existing collective bargaining contract, but was solely to protest against the employers' unfair labor practices designed to oust the employees' bargaining representative, held that § 8(d) of the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, did not deprive the individual strikers of their status as employees, even though they struck within the 60-day waiting period prescribed by § 8(d)(4) following the union's written notice of its desire to modify its existing contract with the employers. Pp. 350 U. S. 284-289.

(a) Since the 60-day waiting period prescribed by § 8(d)(4) begins to run upon the giving of notice of a desire to "terminate or modify" an existing contract and its purpose is to relieve the parties during the renegotiation period from the economic pressure of a strike or lockout in relation to the subjects of the negotiations, the provision that any employee who engages in a strike

Page 350 U. S. 271

during such waiting period shall lose his status as an employee should be construed as referring to strikes relating to the subjects of the negotiations, and not to strikes designed solely to protest against unfair labor practices of the employers. Pp.- 350 U. S. 285-286.

(b) A different construction would produce incongruous results. Pp. 350 U. S. 286-287.

(c) Much more explicit language would be needed to deprive employees of their right to strike in protest against violations of §§ 7 and 8 (a), which protect their freedom of concerted action and freedom of choice of representatives. P. 350 U. S. 287.

(d) While the relevant legislative history provides no conclusive answer to the problem of interpretation here involved, it is consistent with the conclusion here reached. Pp. 350 U. S. 287-289.

(e) The cross-references to §§ 8, 9 and 10 of the Act in the loss of status clause do not require a different result. P. 350 U. S. 289.

214 F. 2d 462, affirmed.

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