Textile Workers Union v. American Thread Co., Civ. A. No. 52-503.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
Citation113 F. Supp. 137
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 52-503.
Decision Date05 June 1953

113 F. Supp. 137


Civ. A. No. 52-503.

United States District Court D. Massachusetts.

June 5, 1953.

113 F. Supp. 138

Jacob Minkin, New Bedford, Mass., for plaintiff.

Francis J. Vaas, A. Lane McGovern and Ropes, Gray, Best, Coolidge & Rugg, Boston, Mass., for defendant.

WYZANSKI, District Judge.

This is a suit under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, commonly called the Taft-Hartley Act, 61 Stat. 156, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185, to order defendant to submit to arbitration the question whether under certain provisions of a collective bargaining contract with plaintiff it is liable for separation pay.

Section 301(a) provides that "Suits for violation of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce * * * may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties * * *."

Since 1948 defendant, an employer, has had contracts with plaintiff, "a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce." The 1948 contract provided in Article VII that "any * * * controversy of any nature * * * between the Union and the Company, which has not been satisfactorily adjusted within fifteen (15) working days after the initiation of conferences between representatives of the Union and the Company shall be promptly referred to arbitration * * *. Questions involving changes in the * * * provisions of this Agreement shall not be subject to * * * arbitration." March 29, 1951 the parties, in two separate but substantially identical memoranda covering defendant's Hampton Yarn Division and Merrick Mills, modified and extended the

113 F. Supp. 139
1948 contract. In each memorandum it was agreed that there shall be retirement separation pay which "shall become effective upon approval by the appropriate governmental authority and shall not be retroactive"; the parties "shall select by mutual agreement a new permanent arbitrator" (presumably in lieu of the person named in Article VII of the 1948 contract); and, as modified, the 1948 contract shall "continue in full force and effect * * * until March 15, 1953."

Defendant separated from employment ten persons whose cases are still in controversy. Plaintiff claims they are entitled to separation pay. Defendant rejects the claim on the ground that, in its view, the employees were separated before the 1951 memoranda received approval by the appropriate governmental agency. Plaintiff demanded that the controversy be submitted to arbitration; but defendant refused to comply.

Plaintiff, thereupon, brought this suit for specific performance of what it claims is defendant's obligation to submit its claim to arbitration. Defendant contends that there is no arbitrable issue and that, if there were, this Court has no power to direct specific performance of an agreement to arbitrate. Each party moved for summary judgment.

Defendant's first point can readily be answered. As was evident in the discussion at bar, the controversy between the parties turns partly on the question as to when these ten persons were in fact separated from employment. Such factual issues are plainly arbitrable under the contract. Furthermore, issues as to the meaning of the terms in the contract are also arbitrable for the parties have excluded from arbitration only "changes in the terms and provisions" of the contract.

More troublesome is defendant's second point that this Court lacks the power specifically to enforce an arbitration provision in a collective bargaining contract.

Defendant's argument is that the federal courts cannot grant specific performance of arbitration contracts in the absence of statutory authority, Red Cross Line v. Atlantic Fruit Co., 264 U.S. 109, 44 S.Ct. 274, 68 L. Ed. 582; United States Asphalt Refining Co. v. Trinidad Lake Petroleum Co., D.C. S.D.N.Y., 222 F. 1006, and that the Federal Arbitration Act, 61 Stat. 669, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., which excludes "contracts of employment of * * * any * * * class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce" has been held not to give authority for specific performance of arbitration provisions in collective bargaining contracts. Amalgamated Ass'n of Street, Electric Ry. & Motor Coach Employees of America v. Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc., 3 Cir., 192 F.2d 310; International Union United Furniture Workers of America v. Colonial Hardwood Flooring Co., Inc., 4 Cir., 168 F.2d 33; Gatliff Coal Co. v. Cox, 6 Cir., 142 F.2d 876; Boston & Maine Transp. Co. v. Amalgamated Ass'n of Street & Electric Ry. & Motor Coach Employees of America, Division No. 718, D.C.D.Mass., 106 F.Supp. 334. Contra: Lewittes & Sons v. United Furniture Workers of America, D.C.S.D. N.Y., 95 F.Supp. 851. Compare: Sturges & Murphy, Some Confusing Matters Relating to Arbitration Under The United States Arbitration Act., 17 Law & Contemp. Prob. 580, 605-619; Recent Case, 65 Harv. L.Rev. 1239. This Court expressly declines to consider the correctness of the foregoing argument, since § 301 of the Taft-Hartley Act makes it unnecessary to state what authority this Court would have in the absence of statute, or what is the correct construction of the Federal Arbitration Act.

Section 301 is drafted in terms which appear to be exclusively jurisdictional. The statute does not expressly state what law shall be applied to determine the rights of the parties or their remedies.

A substantial majority of the courts that have considered this section have concluded that it is a direction to develop a federal common law in connection with the rights of the parties (and presumably a fortiori in connection with their remedies). See International Union of Operating Engineers v. Dahlem Construction Co., 6 Cir., 193 F.2d 470, 475; Shirley Herman Co. v. International Hod Carriers, 2 Cir., 182 F.2d 806, 809, 17 A.L.R.

113 F. Supp. 140
2d 609; Schatte v. International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Machine Operators, 9 Cir., 182 F.2d 158, 164. Note 57 Yale L.J. 630. But see Mercury Oil Refining Co. v. Oil Workers International Union, 10 Cir., 187 F.2d 980, 983; Paterson Parchment Paper Co. v. International Brotherhood of Paper Makers, 3 Cir., 191 F.2d 252, 253, certiorari denied, 342 U.S. 933, 72 S.Ct. 376, 96 L.Ed. 694. This construction presents no constitutional difficulties. Under Article I § 8, cl. 3 of the Constitution Congress has the power to give to the federal judiciary authority to construct a corpus of common law to regulate commerce. Compare Clearfield Trust Co. v. United States, 318 U.S. 363, 63 S.Ct. 573, 87 L.Ed. 838; D'Oench, Duhme & Co. v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., 315 U.S. 447, 62 S.Ct. 676, 86 L.Ed. 956. And such an exercise of Congressional power is a law of the United States, so that cases arising thereunder may be heard by a duly authorized United States Court established under Article III of the United States Constitution. See Wilson & Co., Inc., v...

To continue reading

Request your trial
58 cases
  • Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 10-CA-038804
    • United States
    • National Labor Relations Board
    • October 28, 2014
    ...[107] Local 205 v. General Electric Co., 233 F.2d 85, 90 (1st Cir.1956)(quoting Textile Workers Local 1029 v. American Thread Co., 113 F.Supp. 137, 142 (D.Mass. 1953)), affd. 553 U.S. 547 (1957). As the Court explained in Boys Markets, Inc. v. Retail Clerks Local 770, 398 U.S. 235, 250 (197......
  • Textile Workers Union of America v. Lincoln Mills of Alabama v. United Textile Workers of America Local 1802 General Electric Company v. Local 205, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, GOODALL-SANFOR
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1957
    ...that point of view is the one rendered by Judge Wyzanski in Textile Workers Union of America (C.I.O.) v. American Thread Co., D.C., 113 F.Supp. 137. That is our construction of § 301(a), which means that the agreement to arbitrate grievance disputes, contained in this collective bargaining ......
  • Seay v. McDonnell Douglas Corporation, 23114.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • June 3, 1970
    ...L.Ed.2d 126 (1968); Chasis v. Progress Mfg. Co., 382 F.2d 773 (3d Cir. 1967); Textile Workers Union of America v. American Thread Co., 113 F. Supp. 137 5 The defendant, IAM, admitted in its answer that it did in fact expend sums from all income including agency fee payments for political pu......
  • Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v. Westinghouse Electric Corp, 51
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 28, 1955
    ...Transfer Co., 337 U.S. 582, 600, 69 S.Ct. 1173, 1182, 93 L.Ed. 1556; Textile Workers Union of America v. American Thread Co., D.C., 113 F.Supp. 137; Hart and Wechsler, The Federal Courts and the Federal System, 744 747; Wechsler, Federal Jurisdiction and the Revision of the Judicial Code, 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT