Labor Law – Collective Bargaining – Duty of Employer to Furnish Information Relating to Ability to Pay

A regional negotiating committee of the International Woodworkers of America, AFL-CIO, sent questionnaires to some six hundred employers with whom it had bargaining relations. The committee desired information to assist in measuring wage demands for bargaining with employers in the Pacific northwest lumber and plywood industries. The information requested related to each employee, his job classification, hourly rates, seniority rights, paid holidays, vacations, and annual hours. The employers were also requested to furnish figures showing the annual board-foot production of their respective operations and related sales totals expressed in dollars. The employers declined to provide the data despite repeated requests from the union. After negotiations had commenced and the employers still refused, the union filed charges before the NLRB of an unfair labor practice under section 8(a)(5) of the NLRA. The Trial Examiner found that the refusal to supply the requested information was a refusal to bargain collectively. Held, the employers violated section 8(a)(5) by refusing to furnish the individual wage and employment information. Although this information was requested by the international union, it was intended to be used by the locals. There was no violation, however, in refusing to provide the production and sales totals since the employers at no time claimed inability to pay the wage demands. Pine Industrial Relations Committee, Inc., 118 N.L.R.B. No. 142, 40 L.R.R.M. 1315 (1957).