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Bridgeport Fittings, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

decided: June 5, 1989.

BRIDGEPORT FITTINGS, INCORPORATED, PETITIONER, CROSS-RESPONDENT,
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, RESPONDENT, CROSS-PETITIONER



Petition for review of a decision and order of the National Labor Relations Board which held that petitioner Bridgeport Fittings, Inc., violated the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to bargain with a union certified to represent a group of its employees and which ordered petitioner to bargain on request. The National Labor Relations Board cross-petitions for enforcement of its order. Petition for review denied. Petition for enforcement granted.

Pierce and Altimari, Circuit Judges, and Robert J. Kelleher, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Pierce

PIERCE, Circuit Judge

Bridgeport Fittings, Inc. ("the Company") petitions for review of a decision and order of the National Labor Relations Board ("the Board") which held that the Company violated §§ 8(a)(1) and (a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act ("the Act"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(1), 158(a)(5) (1982), by refusing to bargain with the Bridgeport Fittings Employees Association ("the BFEA"), a labor organization which the Board certified as the collective bargaining representative of a group of the Company's employees. The Board petitions for enforcement of its order directing the Company to bargain with the BFEA upon request.

We conclude that none of the Company's numerous challenges to the Board's certification of the BFEA establishes that the Board abused its discretion during the representation proceeding. Hence, we deny the petition for review and enforce the order.

BACKGROUND

The Company, a Connecticut corporation, manufactures electrical fittings at its plant in Stratford, Connecticut. For approximately forty-seven years, until the events at issue, Local 2015 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO ("the IBEW") served as the collective bargaining representative of a group of employees at the Company's plant. On February 21, 1984, an employee of the Company, one Derwin Gonzalez, filed a petition with the Board seeking to have the IBEW decertified. Gonzalez was an in-plant organizer for Local 1040 of the Brewery and Soft Drink Workers, Liquor Drivers, and New and Used Car Workers, ("Local 1040"), an organization affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("the Teamsters"). Two days after Gonzalez filed his petition, Local 1040 filed a petition for certification as the representative of the Company's production and maintenance workers.

Shortly after these petitions were filed, the employees of the Company who constituted Local 1040's in-plant organizing committee were informed that, because of a "no-raid" pact between the Teamsters and the IBEW, Local 1040 would be withdrawing its petition. These employees then formed the BFEA. Following its formation, the BFEA admitted employees to membership, collected voluntary contributions, conducted meetings at which officers were elected, and established a bank account.

After a hearing, in which the BFEA intervened, the Acting Regional Director of Region One of the Board ("the Director") issued a decision dated July 3, 1984, in which he granted Local 1040's request to withdraw its petition and, despite the Company's and the IBEW's objections, held that the BFEA was eligible to appear on a representation election ballot. The Director ordered that an election be held to determine whether the members of the bargaining unit wished to be represented by the IBEW, the BFEA, or neither organization.

On July 24, 1984, the Company filed with the Board a request for review of the Director's decision, arguing that the BFEA was no more than a "front" for the Teamsters and therefore should be barred from the election. In its request, the Company alleged that it had newly discovered evidence that, at a meeting of the BFEA in June 1984 ("the June meeting"), Gonzalez, who had been elected vice-president of the BFEA, announced that if the BFEA won the election it would cede its certification to Local 1040.

On August 1, 1984, the election was held and, by order of the Board, the ballots were impounded. On August 3, 1984, the Board granted the Company's request for review "solely with respect to the alleged 'newly discovered' evidence arising out of [the June] meeting," remanded for further hearing on this issue, and denied the request "in all other respects."

In response to the Board's remand, the Director conducted another hearing ("the reopened hearing"), during which the Company was given an ample opportunity to present evidence that the BFEA was a front for the Teamsters. The Director then issued a supplemental decision, dated October 26, 1984, affirming his original decision. In the supplemental decision, the Director wrote that the evidence adduced at the reopened hearing was insufficient to support a finding that the BFEA intended, if it won the election, to cede its certification to Local 1040.

On January 15, 1985, the election ballots were counted. The tally showed that 210 of the approximately 235 eligible employees cast valid votes. Of these 210 valid votes, 138 were in favor of the BFEA, 66 were in favor of the IBEW and 6 favored not having either organization as the bargaining representative. On January 21, 1985, the Company filed objections to the conduct of the election and argued that the election results must be set aside on the grounds, inter alia, that confusion and fear tainted the election process; that members of the BFEA disclaimed the BFEA's interest in representing the employees; and that the BFEA was merely a front for Local 1040. The IBEW also filed objections.

After an investigation into the Company's and the IBEW's objections, the Director issued a second supplemental decision dated May 17, 1985. In the decision, he considered all of the objections and, finding them to be without merit, certified the BFEA as the employees' representative. The Company filed numerous exceptions to the Director's second supplemental decision and both the Company and the IBEW requested a review by the Board.

On October 21, 1985, the Board denied these requests, holding that they raised no substantial issues warranting review. Chairman Dotson dissented from this denial, on the ground that the ballot used in the election was defective. On November 1, 1985, the Company filed a motion for reconsideration. Well over two years later, in a decision dated March 23, 1988, the Board denied the motion for reconsideration, holding that the ballot used in the election was not so defective as to warrant overturning the election.

While the motion for reconsideration was pending, the BFEA, on or about April 2, 1986, requested that the Company bargain with it. The Company refused to bargain and continues to refuse to bargain. In a complaint dated June 16, 1986, the General Counsel of the Board charged that the Company's refusal to bargain constituted an unfair labor practice under the Act.

After the Board issued its denial of the Company's motion for reconsideration, the General Counsel moved for summary judgment on the charge against the Company. In a decision and order dated October 13, 1988, the Board granted the motion for summary judgment, held that the Company violated § § 8(a)(1) and (a)(5) of the Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(a)(1) and 158(a)(5), and ordered the Company to bargain with the BFEA upon request. The Company then ...


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