Law School Case Brief
NLRB v. Wyman-Gordon Company - 394 U.S. 759, 89 S. Ct. 1426 (1969)
The rule-making provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act are designed to assure fairness and mature consideration of rules of general application. They may not be avoided by the process of making rules in the course of adjudicatory proceedings.
A union that was seeking election as the collective bargaining representative of respondent Wyman-Gordon Company's ("Wyman") production and maintenance employees obtained a National Labor Relations Board ("Board") order requiring Wyman to furnish the union with a list of the names and addresses of the employees who would be eligible to vote in the representation election. After Wyman refused to comply with the Board's order, the Board issued a subpoena requiring that the list be furnished; it also obtained an order from a federal district court requiring Wyman to comply with the subpoena based on the Board's Excelsior rule. The Excelsior rule purported to establish the general principle that a list of employees eligible to vote in a union election be provided to the union within seven days after an election was approved. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed, holding that the Board's order was based on a Board rule that had been adopted through an invalid procedure that was not promulgated in accordance with statutory requirements. The NLRB was granted a writ of certiorari.
Was the Board's Excelsior rule valid?
The Supreme Court of the United States reversed the appellate court's decision and remanded the matter to the district court with directions to reinstate its judgment. The Court agreed with the appellate court that the Excelsior rule was invalid, as it was not promulgated in accordance with applicable administrative laws. However, the Court ruled, Wyman was nevertheless required to produce the employee list because it was specifically directed to do so by the NLRB in an adjudicatory proceeding. The NLRB did not have discretion to promulgate rules in adjudicatory proceedings without complying with the established statutory requirements. The NLRB's mandate to provide the employee list was nevertheless valid, as it was part of an order in a pending case that Wyman was required to obey. The disclosure requirement was substantively valid, and the NLRB was authorized to subpoena employee lists because they were "evidence" within the meaning of § 11 of the National Labor Relations Act.
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