Ford Motor Co. v. Nlrb, 441 U.S. 488 (1979)

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Author: Justice Blackmun

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Ford Motor Co. v. Nlrb, 441 U.S. 488 (1979)

MR JUSTICE BLACKMUN, concurring in the result.

I am in accord with much -- indeed with most -- of what the Court pronounces in its opinion, and I join its judgment.

My concern is with the last two sentences of the penultimate paragraph of the Court’s opinion. Ante at 503. The Court there says that, "[i]n any event" an employer, by initiating or altering a subsidy to a third-party supplier, "can always affect prices," and "will typically have the right to change suppliers at some point in the future." Thus, to this extent, "the employer holds future, if not present, leverage over in-plant food services and prices." To me, this language seems to say that Ford’s control over prices under the facts of this case is really irrelevant to the "mandatory subject" inquiry, and seems to imply that an employer must bargain about prices even if he has no actual control over them at all. Any employer, of course, could achieve some measure of future control over prices by initiating a subsidy or by changing suppliers. That future possibility, however, should not be enough.

If the employer has no control over prices, bargaining about them is futile. If the employer rents space in a corner of the plant to a restaurateur, and thereafter maintains a "hands off" attitude and has no input into the food operation, it is difficult for me to see how bargaining about food prices makes any sense. The employer has no more control over prices by virtue of its landlord status than it has over prices charged at the hamburger shop across the street. If the employer really has no control over prices, moreover, it is not obvious that the prices charged "settle an aspect of the relationship between the employer and employees," Chemical & Alkali Workers v. Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co., 404 U.S. 157, 178 (1971), a precondition for mandatory bargaining status. The pertinent relationship is then between the restaurateur and the employees. If the employer has no control over prices and services whatsoever, and if he nevertheless is required to bargain about them because in the future he might be able to exercise some control over them, the employer’s "managerial decisionmaking" may well be usurped, and we are close to the basic concern of the concurrence in Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. v. NLRB, 379 U.S. 203, 222 (1964).

I think it is unwise to go out of our way to hold -- if the Court does so here -- that an employer with no present actual influence or control over food prices should be forced to bargain about them because of the mere possibility that he might have "future leverage." That situation is not presented in this case, and I see no need for the Court to decide it. For now, I prefer only a general rule that food prices are mandatorily bargainable so long as the employer, as here, has some measure of actual influence over the prices charged.

I thus join the Court in the result it reaches in this case. I would reserve other situations for another day.

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Chicago: Blackmun, "Blackmun, J., Concurring," Ford Motor Co. v. Nlrb, 441 U.S. 488 (1979) in 441 U.S. 488 441 U.S. 505. Original Sources, accessed July 12, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4B6D1JNY4DDUSV3.

MLA: Blackmun. "Blackmun, J., Concurring." Ford Motor Co. v. Nlrb, 441 U.S. 488 (1979), in 441 U.S. 488, page 441 U.S. 505. Original Sources. 12 Jul. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4B6D1JNY4DDUSV3.

Harvard: Blackmun, 'Blackmun, J., Concurring' in Ford Motor Co. v. Nlrb, 441 U.S. 488 (1979). cited in 1979, 441 U.S. 488, pp.441 U.S. 505. Original Sources, retrieved 12 July 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4B6D1JNY4DDUSV3.