Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp, No. 51

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFRANKFURTER; HARLAN; WARREN; REED; DOUGLAS
Citation75 S.Ct. 489,348 U.S. 437,99 L.Ed. 510
Decision Date28 March 1955
Docket NumberNo. 51
PartiesASSOCIATION OF WESTINGHOUSE SALARIED EMPLOYEES v. WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP

348 U.S. 437
75 S.Ct. 489
99 L.Ed. 510
ASSOCIATION OF WESTINGHOUSE SALARIED EMPLOYEES

v.

WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC CORP.

No. 51.
Argued Nov. 17 and 18, 1954.
Decided March 28, 1955.
Rehearing Denied May 9, 1955.

See 349 U.S. 925, 75 S.Ct. 657.

[Syllabus from 437-438 intentionally omitted]

Page 438

Mr.David E. Feller, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. Mahlon E. Lewis, Pittsburgh, Pa., for respondent.

Page 439

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER announced the judgment of the Court and an opinion in which Mr. Justice BURTON and Mr. Justice MINTON join.

Respondent is a Pennsylvania corporation engaged in the manufacture and sale of electrical equipment in interstate commerce. Petitioner, an unincorporated labor organization and the collective bargaining representative of some 5,000 salaried employees at two of respondent's plants, filed this suit against respondent in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to enforce collective bargaining agreements then in effect between it and respondent. The suit was brought under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 61 Stat. 156, 29 U.S.C. § 185, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185, and the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, 62 Stat. 964, as amended, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2201, 2202.

More specifically, petitioner alleged that under the contracts respondent was obligated to pay the employees represented by petitioner their full salary during April 1951, regardless of whether they missed a day's work, unless the absence was due to 'furlough' or 'leave of absence,' and that respondent had violated the contracts by deducting from the pay of some 4,000 of those employees their wages for April 3, when they were absent. No reason who given for their absence, but it was alleged that the reason was not furlough or leave of absence. The employees were not named and were not made parties to the suit. Petitioner requested the court to interpret the contracts, declare the rights of the parties, compel respondent to make an accounting (and name the employees involved and the amounts of unpaid salaries), and enter a judgment against respondent and in favor of the individual employees for the unpaid wages.

Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on three grounds: the court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter, petitioner was the wrong party plaintiff under

Page 440

Fed.Rules Civ.Proc. 17(a), 28 U.S.C.A., and the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court held that it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and that petitioner was a proper plaintiff but dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim for relief, without prejudice to petitioner's right to amend. It held that, without affirmative averments as to the cause of the absences from work, it must be assumed the absences were voluntary, and that the bargaining contracts did not obligate respondent to pay wages during voluntary absences. 107 F.Supp. 692.

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, sitting en banc, three judges dissenting, vacated the district court's order dismissing the complaint on the merits, and directed a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. After stating that § 301 'is a grant of federal-question jurisdiction and thus creates a federal, substantive right' (210 F.2d 625) and reviewing various theories explaining the relationship between union, employer and employees under a collective bargaining agreement, the court adopted an 'eclectic theory,' based primarily upon language in J.I. Case Co. v. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 332, 64 S.Ct. 576, 88 L.Ed. 762. The bargaining contract, said the Court, obligates the employer to include in the contracts of hire with each employee the terms and conditions which had been settled between the union and the employer, but the collective contract itself is not a contract of hire. Not until an employee enters into an individual contract of hire and performs services does the employer become bound to pay the particular employee the specified wages. It follows, said the Court, that if there was a breach in this case, it was a breach of the employment contracts with the individual employees who were not paid. Section 301, on the other hand, grants jurisdiction to federal courts only over cases involving breaches of the collective bargaining contract between the union and the employer. There-

Page 441

fore, it was concluded, the district court was without jurisdiction of the suit. 210 F.2d 623.

The dissenting judges agreed that a failure to pay wages might well constitute a breach of the individual hiring contracts as a basis of common-law suits by the employees. But they deemed the breach, if any, also a breach of the collective bargaining contracts and as such cognizable in the federal court under § 301. They concluded that Rule 17(a) permitted the union to sue alone, without joinder of the employees, to vindicate the rights of these employees as a class, such employees being beneficiaries of the collective contracts. They agreed with the district court, however, that, on this complaint, the bargaining contracts did not make respondent liable, since the cause of the absences from work was not alleged. 210 F.2d at page 630.

The case was brought here for construction of a section of the Taft-Hartley Act which has proved a fertile source of difficulty for the lower courts. 347 U.S. 1010, 74 S.Ct. 868, 98 L.Ed. 1134.

1. In dealing with an enactment such as § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act,1 it is necessary first

Page 442

to ascertain its jurisdictional scope, more particularly, whether it extends to the suit at hand. Here, as may not infrequently be the case, this question turns in large measure on what sources a federal court would be required to draw upon in determining the underlying substantive rights of the parties—in this case, in deciding whether the union has the contract right which it asserts. If Congress has itself defined the law or authorized the federal courts to fashion the judicial rules governing this question, it would be self-defeating to limit the scope of the power of the federal courts to less than is necessary to accomplish this congressional aim. If, on the other hand, Congress merely furnished a federal forum for enforcing the body of contract law which the States provide, a serious constitutional problem would lie at the threshold of jurisdiction. Moreover, if the function of § 301 is merely that of providing a federal forum for state law, there are good reasons for finding that, despite the broad wording of § 301, Congress did not intend to confer jurisdiction over this type of suit.

Page 443

If the section is given the meaning its language spontaneously yields, it would seem clear that all it does is to give procedural directions to the federal courts. 'When an unincorporated association that happens to be a labor union appears before you as a litigant in a case involving breach of a collective agreement,' Congress in effect told the district judges, 'treat is as though it were a natural or corporate legal person and do so regardless of the amount in controversy and do not require diversity of citizenship.'

Since a statute like the Taft-Hartley Act is an organism, § 301 must be placed in the context of the legislation as a whole. So viewed, however, the meaning which the section by itself affords is not affected. While some sections of the Act in certain instances may be relevant in actions for breach of contract and as such binding also on the States,2 no provision suggests general application of

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defined or theretofore available federal substantive law in actions arising under § 301.

This examination would conclude the construction of the section by English courts, that is, by any court reading legislation as it is written without drawing on parliamentary debates. And considering that the construction we have found seems plain, the so-called 'plain meaning rule,' on which construction is from time to time rested also in this Court, likewise makes further inquiry needless and indeed improper. But that rule has not dominated our decisions. The contrary doctrine has prevailed. See Boston Sand & Gravel Co. v. United States, 278 U.S. 41, 48, 49 S.Ct. 52, 53, 54, 73 L.Ed. 170; United States v. Dickerson, 310 U.S. 554, 561, 60 S.Ct. 1034, 1038, 84 L.Ed. 1356. And so we proceed to an examination of the legislative history to see whether that raises such doubts that the search for meaning should not be limited to the statute itself.

Congressional concern with obstacles surrounding union litigation began to manifest itself as early as 1943. In the first session of the 78th Congress and thereafter numerous bills were introduced proposing various solutions, including federal incorporation,3 denial of rights under the Wagner Act to contract violators,4 creation of a cause of action for strikes and other acts in violation of the collective bargaining contract,5 and grants of federal juris-

Page 445

diction similar to the present § 301.6 Only one of these, the so-called 'Case bill,' was acted upon. This bill, which passed both Houses in 1946, only to fail through President Truman's veto, included as § 10 a provision somewhat similar to the present section. That section passed the House in the following form:

'Sec. 10. Binding effect of collective—bargaining contracts. All collective-bargaining contracts shall be mutually and equally binding and enforceable against each of the parties thereto, any other law to the contrary notwithstanding. In the event of a breach of any such contract or of any agreement contained in such contract by either party thereto, then, in addition to any other remedy or remedies existing, a suit for damages for such breach may be maintained by the other party or parties in any State or United States district court having jurisdiction of the parties.'...

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249 practice notes
  • Cowan v. Keystone Emp. Profit Sharing Fund, No. 78-1212
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 21, 1978
    ...law for the case to be heard in a federal court. See Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 348 U.S. 437, 449-59, 75 S.Ct. 489, 99 L.Ed. 510 (1955). State law claims may be entertained only if they arise out of the same nucleus of facts as a federal c......
  • Menhorn v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., No. 82-6084
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 3, 1984
    ...to apply state law would be of doubtful validity. See Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 348 U.S. 437, 442, 452-54, 75 S.Ct. 489, 491, 496-97, 99 L.Ed. 510 (1955); Cowan v. Keystone Employee Profit Sharing Fund, 586 F.2d 888, 894 (1st Cir.1978). W......
  • Wilson & Co. v. United Packinghouse Wkrs. of America, Civ. No. 664.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • February 29, 1960
    ...of contract set forth in Count II. In the case of Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 1955, 348 U.S. 437, 75 S.Ct. 489, 99 L.Ed. 510, reference is made to some of the legislative history relating to Section 301. When that particular provision was u......
  • McCarroll v. Los Angeles County District Council of Carpenters
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • September 13, 1957
    ...of the law and not to the National Labor Relations Board. See Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 348 U.S. 437, 443-444 note 2, 75 S.Ct. 488, 99 L.Ed. 510 (Mr. Justice Frankfurter concurring); Cox and Seidman, Federalism and Labor Relations, 64 Harv.L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
250 cases
  • Cowan v. Keystone Emp. Profit Sharing Fund, No. 78-1212
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 21, 1978
    ...law for the case to be heard in a federal court. See Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 348 U.S. 437, 449-59, 75 S.Ct. 489, 99 L.Ed. 510 (1955). State law claims may be entertained only if they arise out of the same nucleus of facts as a federal c......
  • Menhorn v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., No. 82-6084
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 3, 1984
    ...to apply state law would be of doubtful validity. See Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 348 U.S. 437, 442, 452-54, 75 S.Ct. 489, 491, 496-97, 99 L.Ed. 510 (1955); Cowan v. Keystone Employee Profit Sharing Fund, 586 F.2d 888, 894 (1st Cir.1978). W......
  • Wilson & Co. v. United Packinghouse Wkrs. of America, Civ. No. 664.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • February 29, 1960
    ...of contract set forth in Count II. In the case of Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp., 1955, 348 U.S. 437, 75 S.Ct. 489, 99 L.Ed. 510, reference is made to some of the legislative history relating to Section 301. When that particular provision was u......
  • McCarroll v. Los Angeles County District Council of Carpenters
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • September 13, 1957
    ...of the law and not to the National Labor Relations Board. See Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 348 U.S. 437, 443-444 note 2, 75 S.Ct. 488, 99 L.Ed. 510 (Mr. Justice Frankfurter concurring); Cox and Seidman, Federalism and Labor Relations, 64 Harv.L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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