370 U.S. 254 (1962), 598, Drake Bakeries Incorporated v. Local 50, American

Docket Nº:No. 598
Citation:370 U.S. 254, 82 S.Ct. 1346, 8 L.Ed.2d 474
Party Name:Drake Bakeries Incorporated v. Local 50, American
Case Date:June 18, 1962
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 254

370 U.S. 254 (1962)

82 S.Ct. 1346, 8 L.Ed.2d 474

Drake Bakeries Incorporated

v.

Local 50, American

No. 598

United States Supreme Court

June 18, 1962

Bakery & Confectionery Workers International, AFL-CIO

Argued April 18, 1962

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, an employer sued a union for damages alleged to have resulted from the union's action in encouraging its members to strike or not to report for work on a certain day in violation of a no-strike clause contained in a collective bargaining agreement between the employer and the union. The contract provided for compulsory, final and binding arbitration, at the request of either party, of

all complaints, disputes or grievances arising between [the parties] involving questions of interpretation or application of any clause or matter covered by this contract or any act or conduct or relation between the parties hereto, directly or indirectly.

The union moved that the suit be stayed pending arbitration of the dispute, and it supported this motion by an affidavit denying that it had instigated a strike or encouraged its members not to work on the day in question.

Held: the District Court properly stayed the action pending completion of arbitration. The contract here involved obligates the employer to arbitrate its claim for damages for forbidden strikes by the union, and there are no circumstances in this record which would justify relieving the employer of its duty to arbitrate the consequences of this one-day strike, intertwined as it is with the union's denials that there was any strike or any breach of contract. Pp. 255-267.

(a) The employer's claim against the union for damages for an alleged strike in violation of the contract is clearly within the scope of the arbitration provisions of the contract here involved. Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., ante, p. 238, distinguished. Pp. 256-260.

(b) In the circumstances of this case, the alleged one-day strike was not such a breach or repudiation of the arbitration clause by the union that the employer was excused from arbitrating its claim for damages resulting therefrom. Pp. 260-266.

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(c) On the record in this case, it cannot be said that the union is not entitled to a stay because it did not proceed with sufficient dispatch in seeking arbitration of the employer's damage claim against it. Pp. 266-267.

294 F.2d 399, affirmed.

Per curiam opinion.

MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The petitioning company brought this action for damages in the District Court under § 301(a) of the Taft-Hartley Act, alleging that the respondent union had violated the no-strike clause of the collective bargaining contract between the union and the company. The sole question in the case is whether the District Court was correct in holding that the employer's claim was an arbitrable matter under the contract, and in ordering a stay of the action pending completion of arbitration. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court by an equally divided vote.1 This Court granted certiorari (368 U.S. 975), and set the cause for argument immediately following Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., ante, p. 238, decided this day.

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The company's business is baking and selling cakes and other bakery products. On December 16, 1959, the company notified the union and its employees that, because Christmas and New Year's would fall on Fridays, and because it was desirable to have fresh bakery products to sell on the Mondays following the holidays, employees would not work on the Thursdays before Christmas and New Year's, but would work on the Saturdays following those holidays. Meetings between the union and the company on December 18 and December 22 ensued, the company's position being that it was exercising management's prerogative in rescheduling work, the union's that the proposed work schedule violated the collective bargaining contract and that the employees were not obligated to work on December 26 or January 2. A compromise arrangement was worked out for December 26, and 80 out of 190 employees reported on that day, a sufficient number to allow production to proceed. Further conversations On December 28 were not fruitful, however, and on Saturday, January 2, the company was unable to produce its goods because only 26 employees reported for work. The company promptly filed this damage action on January 4, 1960, alleging that the union instigated and encouraged its members to strike or not to report for work on January 2, all in violation of the no-strike clause contained in the collective bargaining contract. No answer has been filed by the union, but the union's affidavit in support of the motion for stay stated what its answer would contain and specifically denied that the union had instigated a strike or encouraged its members not to work on January 2.

As was true in Atkinson, supra, the issue of arbitrability is a question for the courts and is to be determined by the contract entered into by the parties. " . . . [A] party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which he has not agreed so to submit." United Steelworkers

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v. Warrior & Gulf Nav. Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582. But the contract here is much different from the agreement in Atkinson. Under Article V2 of the contract:

The parties agree that they will promptly attempt to adjust all complaints, disputes or grievances arising between them involving questions of interpretation or application of any clause or matter covered by this contract or any act or conduct or relation between the parties hereto, directly or indirectly.

This is broad language, indeed, and the procedure thereafter provided in Article [82 S.Ct. 1349] V does not, as it did in Atkinson, exclude claims or complaints of the employer. It is provided that in the first instance the union will be represented by a committee and the shop chairman, and the employer by the shop manager. Failing adjustment at this stage, the issue is required to be submitted in writing by "the party claiming to be aggrieved to the other party,"

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whereupon the union and the plant manager are to attempt to reach a satisfactory agreement. If agreement is not reached within seven days from the time the issue is submitted in writing, either party "shall have the right to refer the matter to arbitration. . . ."

Article V does not stop with disputes "involving questions of interpretation or application of any clause or matter" covered by the contract. The adjustment and arbitration procedures are to apply to all complaints, all disputes, and all grievances involving any act of either party, or any conduct of either party, or any relation between the parties, directly or indirectly. The company asserts that there was a strike by the union in violation of the no-strike clause. It therefore has a "complaint" against the union concerning the "acts" or "conduct" of the union. There is also involved a "dispute" between the union and the company, for the union denies that there was a strike at all, denies that it precipitated any strike, denies that the employees were obligated under the contract to work on that January 2, and itself claims that the employer breached the contract in scheduling work for the holidays.3 Article V, on its face, easily reaches the employer's claim against the union for damages caused by an alleged strike in violation of the contract.

The company earnestly contends that the parties cannot have intended to arbitrate so fundamental a matter as a union strike in breach of contract, and that only an

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express inclusion of a damage claim by the employer would suffice to require arbitration. But it appears more reasonable to us to expect such a matter, if it is indeed so fundamental and so basic to the company under the contract, to have been excluded from the comprehensive language of Article V if the parties so intended. In Article VII,4 which contains the no-strike provisions, the parties prohibited strikes, insulated [82 S.Ct. 1350] the union, its officers and members from damages for strikes which...

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