Lechmere, Inc. v. NLRB, 502 U.S. 527, 10 (1992)

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536

LECHMERE, INC. v. NLRB

Opinion of the Court

"[I]n all access cases our essential concern will be [1] the degree of impairment of the Section 7 right if access should be denied, as it balances against [2] the degree of impairment of the private property right if access should be granted. We view the consideration of [3] the availability of reasonably effective alternative means as especially significant in this balancing process." 291 N. L. R. B., at 14.

The Board conceded that this analysis was unlikely to foster certainty and predictability in this corner of the law, but declared that "as with other legal questions involving multiple factors, the 'nature of the problem, as revealed by unfolding variant situations, inevitably involves an evolutionary process for its rational response, not a quick, definitive formula as a comprehensive answer.' " Ibid. (quoting Electrical Workers v. NLRB, 366 U. S. 667, 674 (1961)).

Citing its role "as the agency with responsibility for implementing national labor policy," the Board maintains in this case that Jean Country is a reasonable interpretation of the NLRA entitled to judicial deference. Brief for Respondent 18, and n. 8; Tr. of Oral Arg. 22. It is certainly true, and we have long recognized, that the Board has the "special function of applying the general provisions of the Act to the complexities of industrial life." NLRB v. Erie Resistor Corp., 373 U. S. 221, 236 (1963); see also Phelps Dodge Corp. v. NLRB, 313 U. S. 177, 196-197 (1941). Like other administrative agencies, the NLRB is entitled to judicial deference when it interprets an ambiguous provision of a statute that it administers. See, e. g., NLRB v. Food & Commercial Workers, 484 U. S. 112, 123 (1987); cf. Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 842-843 (1984).

Before we reach any issue of deference to the Board, however, we must first determine whether Jean Country—at least as applied to nonemployee organizational trespassing— is consistent with our past interpretation of 7. "Once we

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