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American Ship Building Co. v. National Labor Relations Board - 380 U.S. 300, 85 S. Ct. 955 (1965)


An employer violates neither § 8(a)(1) nor § 8(a)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, respectively codified at 28 U.S.C.S. §§ 158(a)(1),(3), when, after a bargaining impasse has been reached, he temporarily shuts down his plant and lays off his employees for the sole purpose of bringing economic pressure to bear in support of his legitimate bargaining position. 


After the contract between unions and the employer, the American Ship Building Company that operates four shipyards on the Great Lakes, expired and the negotiations had reached an impasse after more than three months, the American Ship Building Company locked out the unions, asserting that the lockout was necessary because the unions had called for strikes many times before and because the employer was concerned that the unions would call a strike during the busy season. The United States Court of Appeals for the District Of Columbia Circuit enforced the order of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which had held that the employer had committed unfair labor practices under §§ 8(a)(1) and (3) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), codified at 28 U.S.C.S. §§ 158(a)(1)(3). The American Ship Building Company filed a petition for certiorari review.


Did the employer violate § 8(a)(1) when the employer locked out the union because the employer was concerned that the union would strike during the busy season?




The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that the employer had not violated § 8(a)(1) because there was no evidence that the employer was hostile to the collective bargaining process and because the unions' right to bargain collectively did not include the right to control the timing and duration of work stoppages. Because the Court found that the employer had not acted on the basis of a proscribed purpose and that the purpose and effect of the lockout were simply to bring economic pressure upon the unions, the Court held that there was no violation of § 8(a)(3).

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