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Howell Chevrolet Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 346 U.S. 482 (1953)

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American Government Topics:  Howell Chevrolet

Howell Chevrolet Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 346 U.S. 482 (1953)
United States Supreme Court

From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
 
Case:   HOWELL CHEVROLET CO. V. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD 

Case #: 346US482


NO. 34.  ARGUED NOVEMBER 12, 1953 - DECIDED DECEMBER 14, 1953 - 204 F.2D
79, AFFIRMED. 


ON THE FACTS IN THIS CASE, THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT HELD
APPLICABLE TO A LOCAL RETAIL AUTOMOBILE DEALER OPERATING AS AN INTEGRAL
PART OF THE MANUFACTURER'S NATIONAL SYSTEM OF DISTRIBUTION.  PP. 482
484. 

HOWELL CHEVROLET CO. V. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD. 

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH
CIRCUIT. 

OPINION OF THE COURT BY MR. JUSTICE BLACK, ANNOUNCED BY MR. JUSTICE
REED. 

THE PETITIONER HOWELL CHEVROLET COMPANY RETAILS CHEVROLET AUTOMOBILES
AND PARTS IN GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA.  AFTER HEARINGS, THE NATIONAL LABOR
RELATIONS BOARD FOUND HOWELL GUILTY OF UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES IN
REFUSING TO BARGAIN WITH ITS EMPLOYEES AND INTIMIDATING THEM IN VARIOUS
WAYS IN VIOLATION OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT AS AMENDED.*  AN
APPROPRIATE ORDER WAS ISSUED.  95 N.L.R.B. 410.  THE COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT ENFORCED THE BOARD'S ORDER, 204 F.2D 79,
REJECTING THE CONTENTION THAT THE ACT COULD NOT BE APPLIED TO HOWELL. 
ON SIMILAR FACTS THE SIXTH CIRCUIT HELD THAT THE LABOR BOARD HAD NO
JURISDICTION OVER A LOCAL FORD AUTOMOBILE DEALER.  LABOR BOARD V. BILL
DANIELS, INC., 202 F.2D 579.  WE GRANTED CERTIORARI TO CONSIDER THE
SINGLE QUESTION PRESENTED BY PETITIONER - WHETHER THE ACT IS APPLICABLE
TO RETAIL AUTOMOBILE DEALERS LIKE HOWELL.  345 U.S. 955. 

*61 STAT. 136, 29 U.S.C. (SUPP. V) SEC. 151 ET SEQ. 

"ANY PERSON" FROM ADVERSELY "AFFECTING COMMERCE" BY UNFAIR LABOR
PRACTICES "TENDING TO LEAD TO A LABOR DISPUTE BURDENING OR OBSTRUCTING
COMMERCE OR THE FREE FLOW OF COMMERCE."  THE BOARD FOUND THAT HOWELL'S
UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES TENDED TO DO THIS.  AMONG OTHERS, THE FOLLOWING
FACTS UNDERLIE THAT FINDING: 

HOWELL BOUGHT ITS NEW CHEVROLETS FROM A GENERAL MOTORS ASSEMBLY PLANT
LOCATED IN CALIFORNIA AND ITS SPARE PARTS AND ACCESSORIES WERE
DELIVERED TO IT FROM GENERAL MOTORS WAREHOUSES IN CALIFORNIA.  FORTY
THREE PERCENT OF ALL THIS MERCHANDISE WAS MANUFACTURED IN OTHER STATES
AND SHIPPED INTO CALIFORNIA FOR ASSEMBLY OR DISTRIBUTION.  DURING 1949
HOWELL'S PURCHASES FROM GENERAL MOTORS EXCEEDED $1,000,000. 

HOWELL'S LOCAL RETAIL ESTABLISHMENT WAS CLOSELY SUPERVISED BY GENERAL
MOTORS.  SWEEPING CONTROL OF THE BUSINESS WAS RESERVED BY GENERAL
MOTORS IN A "DIRECT DEALER SELLING AGREEMENT."  HOWELL HAD TO SIGN THIS
AGREEMENT TO GET HIS "NON-EXCLUSIVE PRIVILEGE OF SELLING NEW CHEVROLET
MOTOR VEHICLES AND CHASSIS" AND "PARTS AND ACCESSORIES."  THE AGREEMENT
REQUIRED HOWELL TO MAKE VARIED AND DETAILED REPORTS ABOUT HIS BUSINESS
AFFAIRS, TO DEVOTE FULL TIME TO CHEVROLET SALES, TO KEEP HIS SALES
FACILITIES AT A LOCATION AND CONDUCT THE BUSINESS IN A MANNER THAT
SATISFIED GENERAL MOTORS, TO PERMIT GENERAL MOTORS TO INSPECT HOWELL'S
BOOKS, ACCOUNTS, FACILITIES, STOCKS AND ACCESSORIES AND TO KEEP SUCH
UNIFORM ACCOUNTING SYSTEMS AS GENERAL MOTORS MIGHT PRESCRIBE.  MANY
OTHER TERMS OF THE AGENCY AGREEMENT ALSO EMPHASIZED THE INTERDEPENDENCE
OF HOWELL'S LOCAL AND GENERAL MOTORS' NATIONAL ACTIVITIES. 

ALL THIS EVIDENCE CAUSED THE BOARD TO CONCLUDE THAT HOWELL WAS "AN
INTEGRAL PART" OF GENERAL MOTORS' NATIONAL SYSTEM OF DISTRIBUTION. 
UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES THE BOARD WAS JUSTIFIED IN FINDING THAT
HOWELL'S REPEATED UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES TENDED TO LEAD TO DISPUTES
BURDENING OR OBSTRUCTING COMMERCE AMONG THE STATES.  IT FOLLOWS THAT
THE BOARD HAD JURISDICTION TO ACT UNDER THE FACTS IT FOUND.  AFFIRMED. 

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS DISSENTS. 



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