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PAC Tell Group, Inc. v. National Labor Relations Board

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

December 23, 2015

PAC TELL GROUP, INC., d/b/a U.S. Fibers, Petitioner,
v.
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Respondent, UNITED STEEL, PAPER AND FORESTRY, RUBBER, MANUFACTURING, ENERGY, ALLIED-INDUSTRIAL AND SERVICE WORKERS INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 7898, Intervenor. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner,
v.
PAC TELL GROUP, INC., d/b/a U.S. Fibers, Respondent.

Argued: October 27, 2015

Amended: March 15, 2016

On Petition for Review and Cross-Application for Enforcement of an Order of the National Labor Relations Board. (10-CA-139779)

ARGUED:

Reyburn Williams Lominack, III, FISHER & PHILLIPS LLP, Columbia, South Carolina, for Petitioner/Cross-Respondent.

Julie Brock Broido, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Washington, D.C., for Respondent/Cross-Petitioner. Mariana Padias, UNITED STEELWORKERS UNION, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Intervenor.

ON BRIEF:

Michael D. Carrouth, Jonathan P. Pearson, FISHER & PHILLIPS LLP, Columbia, South Carolina, for Petitioner/Cross-Respondent.

Richard F. Griffin, Jr., General Counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, Deputy General Counsel, John H. Ferguson, Associate General Counsel, Linda Dreeben, Deputy Associate General Counsel, Michael Randall Hickson, Attorney, NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Washington, D.C., for Respondent/Cross-Petitioner.

Before KEENAN, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

BARBARA MILANO KEENAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

In this appeal, we consider the National Labor Relations Board's (the Board) determination that four individuals employed by U.S. Fibers, who were engaged in pro-union activity before a union election, were not supervisors within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 152(11) (the Act). Under our deferential standard of review, we conclude that the Board's decision is supported by substantial evidence. We also agree with the Board's conclusion that the four individuals did not engage in objectionable conduct sufficient to set aside the results of the election under the Board's third-party misconduct standard. For these reasons, we deny U.S. Fibers' petition for review of the Board's final order, and grant the Board's cross-application for enforcement of its order.

I.

U.S. Fibers (the employer) recycles polyester fibers at a plant located in Trenton, South Carolina. As relevant here, the employer utilized a tiered management structure as follows: Ted Oh served as vice president of operations, Kevin Corey as director of manufacturing, Glenn Jang as production manager, and Kyong Kang as production and quality assurance manager. These positions indisputably qualify as managerial in nature. At issue in this case is the alleged supervisory status under the Act of four individuals, Jose Lal, David Martinez, Eduardo Sanchez, and Adauco Torres, who were designated by management as "supervisors" (the putative supervisors). The putative supervisors each oversaw the daily work performed by between 22 and 40 hourly workers during each 12-hour shift. These groups working each shift were subdivided into smaller teams of between three and five persons. Each team was assigned a "team lead" who was more skilled and experienced than the other members of the team. The "team leads" reported to the putative supervisors.

The United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied-Industrial and Service Workers International Union, Local 7898 (the union) filed an election petition with the Board, seeking to represent certain employees at the employer's Trenton plant. The Board directed an election over the employer's objection that the putative supervisors should not be included in the bargaining unit because of their alleged supervisory status. See 29 U.S.C. § 152(3). The union won the election by a twelve-vote margin, with four contested ballots cast by the putative supervisors.

The employer filed objections to the results of the election, arguing that the putative supervisors had engaged in objectionable conduct and that the results of the election should be set aside. The regional director of the Board concluded that the employer had failed to establish that Lal, Martinez, Sanchez, and Torres were supervisors as defined in the Act. The Board adopted the regional director's reasoning and affirmed his decision. The Board also rejected the employer's alternative contention that the results of the election should be set aside under the Board's standard for ...


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