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Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Relations Comm. - 880 F. Supp. 246 (S.D.N.Y. 1995)


Upon a finding of reasonable cause, a court determines whether the injunctive relief requested by the National Labor Relations Board is "just and proper." Injunctive relief is "just and proper" to (1) prevent irreparable injury to the party injured by the unfair labor practice, (2) restore or preserve the status quo that existed prior to the violation; (3) protect the NLRB's ability to issue a final remedy, or (4) protect the public interest in the collective bargaining process.


Upon the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the twenty-eight (28) Major League Clubs (collectively, the “Owners”) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (the “Players”), the Owners informed the Players that they would unilaterally eliminate salary arbitration for certain reserve players, competitive bargaining for certain free agents and the anti-collusion provision of the expired collective bargaining agreement. The Players instituted a complaint for unfair labor practices against the Owners before the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). After the NLRB concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) had occurred, it filed the present petition seeking for preliminary injunction.


In the action for unfair labor practices between owners and players of major league baseball, was injunctive relief for petitioner NLRB just and proper under the circumstances?




The court determined that there was reasonable cause for petitioner NLRB to believe that the owners had violated § 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 158(a)(1) and (5), because the provisions sought to be unilaterally changed were mandatory subjects of bargaining. The court concluded that injunctive relief was warranted because the public interest in the process of collective bargaining would be irreparably harmed if the injunction were denied as would be certain personal rights of the players.

As for the applicable standard of review: In reviewing a reasonable cause determination by the National Labor Relations Board, a district court must give "appropriate deference" to the specialized knowledge of the Board. The Board's view of the facts should be sustained unless the court is convinced that it is wrong.  An NLRB legal determination that a violation of § 8(d) has occurred should be upheld unless the Board (1) reached its position by either failing to apply the correct legal standard or by misconstruing the plain language of the correct standard; (2) made a determination so fundamentally inconsistent with the structure of the NLRA that its decision can be viewed as an attempt to usurp major policy decisions by Congress; or (3) is attempting to move into an area of regulation which Congress has not committed to it.

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