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Law School Case Brief

Fibreboard Paper Prods. Corp. v. NLRB - 379 U.S. 203, 85 S. Ct. 398 (1964)


Section 10 of the National Labor Relations Act (Act) charges the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with the task of devising remedies to effectuate the policies of the Act. The NLRB's power is a broad discretionary one, subject to limited judicial review. The relation of remedy to policy is peculiarly a matter for administrative competence. In fashioning remedies to undo the effects of violations of the act, the NLRB must draw on enlightenment gained from experience. The NLRB's order will not be disturbed unless it can be shown that the order is a patent attempt to achieve ends other than those which can fairly be said to effectuate the policies of the Act. 


United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO (the Union), the bargaining representative for a unit of Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation’s (Fibreboard) maintenance employees, gave timely notice of its desire to modify the existing collective bargaining agreement. Four days before the expiration of the contract, Fibreboard informed the Union that it had determined that substantial savings could be effected by contracting out the maintenance work, and that since it had made a definite decision to do so, negotiation of a new agreement would be pointless. On the contract expiration date, the employment of employees represented by the Union was terminated and an independent contractor was engaged to do the maintenance work. The Union filed unfair labor practice charges against Fibreboard, alleging violations of §§ 8 (a)(1), 8 (a)(3) and 8 (a)(5) of the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that, while Fibreboard’s motive was economic rather than antiunion, Fibreboard’s failure to negotiate with the Union concerning its decision to contract out the maintenance work violated § 8 (a)(5) of the Act, which requires bargaining with respect to "wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment." The NLRB ordered reinstatement of the maintenance employees with back pay, and the Court of Appeals granted the NLRB's petition for enforcement


Was Fibreboard required by the Act to bargain with a union representing some of its employees about whether to contract out work in which those employees had been engaged?




The United States Supreme Court held that contracting out of work was a condition of employment which was a mandatory subject of collective bargaining under the Act. The NLRB was charged with enforcing the Act and had the authority to take any action necessary, including reinstatement of employees.

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