U.S. v. Allegheny-Ludlum Industries, Inc.

Decision Date18 August 1975
Docket NumberALLEGHENY-LUDLUM,No. 74-3056,74-3056
Citation517 F.2d 826
Parties11 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. 167, 10 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 10,368 UNITED STATES of America et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v.INDUSTRIES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees, Sidney S. Harris et al., Intervenors-Appellants, National Organization For Women, Inc., et al., Movants-Appellants.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit

Oscar W. Adams, Jr., Birmingham, Ala., Kenneth L. Johnson, Baltimore, Md., Bernard D. Marcus, Pittsburgh, Pa., Arthur J. Mandell, Gabrielle K. McDonald, Mark T. McDonald, Houston, Tex., J. Richmond Pearson, Birmingham, Ala., Nathaniel R. Jones, NAACP, New York City, for S. S. Harris and others.

Judith A. Lonnquist, Chicago, Ill., Kenneth L. Johnson, Emily M. Rody, Baltimore, Md., Jack Greenberg, James M. Nabrit, III, Barry L. Goldstein, New York City, for National Organization for Women and others.

William J. Kilberg, Sol. of Labor, U. S. Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., Wayman G. Sherrer, U. S. Atty., Birmingham, Ala., Leonard L. Scheinholtz, Pittsburg, Pa., Robert T. Moore, U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., Francis St. C. O'Leary, Pittsburgh, Pa., William A. Carey, Gen. Counsel, William L. Robinson, Joseph T. Eddins, EEOC, Washington, D. C., for U.S.A. and Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp.

William K. Murray, James R. Forman, Jr., Birmingham, Ala., for U. S. Steel Corp., Allegheny-Ludlum Industries, Republic Steel, Youngstown Corp., Bethlehem Steel, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, Armco Steel, National Steel, Jones-Laughlin.

Michael H. Gottesman, Washington, D. C., Jerome Cooper, Birmingham, Ala., for Steelworkers.

Carl B. Frankel, Asst. Gen. Counsel, United Steelworkers of America, Pittsburgh, Pa., Marshall Harris, Asso. Sol. Labor Relations, Civ. Rights, Dept. of Labor, Washington, D. C., Vincent L. Matera, Pittsburgh, Pa., for U. S. Steel Corp.

Ralph L. McAfee, New York City, for Bethlehem Steel.

David Scribner, New York City, James H. Logan, Pittsburgh, Pa., Elizabeth M. Schnieder, Doris Peterson, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City, for amici curiae.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before THORNBERRY, MORGAN and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

THORNBERRY, Circuit Judge:

These appeals present novel and important issues which require us to consider the scope of the federal government's authority to encourage and negotiate expeditious and efficient settlement of widespead charges of employment discrimination in the nation's steel industry. Some of these issues are procedural in nature; others call into question the substantive legality of the means utilized. Some issues are ripe for decision; others are essentially hypothetical and conjectural. During the interim between the oral argument of these appeals in December, 1974 and the present, we have carefully examined the attacks which have been advanced against the settlement. Our conclusion is that the settlement has not been shown to be in any respect unlawful or improper, and hence its terms, conditions, and benefits must go forward immediately in their entirety.


On April 12, 1974, a complaint was filed in the federal district court for the Northern District of Alabama. The plaintiffs were the United States, on behalf of the Secretary of Labor, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nine major steel companies 1 and the United Steelworkers of America were named as defendants. The suit involved some 240-250 plants at which more than 300,000 persons are employed, over one-fifth of whom are black, Latin American, or female. Alleging massive patterns and practices of hiring and job assignment discrimination on the bases of race, sex, and national origin, the complaint sought to enforce the edicts of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and contractual obligations under Executive Order 11246, as amended, 3 C.F.R. 169 et seq. (1974).

The complaint charged that the companies had violated Title VII and Executive Order 11246 by hiring and assigning employees on impermissible grounds, and by restricting ethnic minorities and females to low-paying and undesirable jobs with scant opportunities for advancement. The complaint also charged the companies and the union with formulating collective bargaining contracts which established seniority systems for promotion, layoff, recall, and transfer so as to deprive minority and female employees of opportunities for advancement comparable to those enjoyed by white males.

The filing of the complaint culminated more than six months of intensive, hard-fought negotiations between, on one side, the EEOC and Departments of Justice and Labor, and on the other the companies and the union. Simultaneously with the filing of the complaint, the parties announced to the court that a tentative nationwide settlement had been reached. The parties multilaterally reduced their agreement to the form of two extensive written consent decrees. Describing the decrees as "a thoughtful and earnest attempt to respond to and to reconcile competition between charges of employment discrimination made on behalf of black, female, and Spanish surnamed workers and applicants," 2 District Judge Pointer signed and entered the documents later that same day. 3

Consent Decree I is aimed at the practices of the union as well as those of the steel companies. It permanently enjoins the defendants from "discriminating in any aspect of employment on the basis of race, color, sex or national origin and from failing or refusing to fully implement" the substantive relief set forth therein. The items covered by Consent Decree I are mainly matters historically encompassed by collective bargaining. The substantive relief falls into three basic categories: (1) immediate implementation of broad plantwide seniority, along with transfer and testing reforms, and adoption of ongoing mechanisms for further reforms of seniority, departmental, and line of progression (LOP) structures, all of which are designed to correct the continuing effects of past discriminatory assignments; (2) establishment of goals and timetables for fuller utilization of females and minorities in occupations and job categories from which they were discriminatorily excluded in the past; and (3) a back pay fund of $30,940,000, to be paid to minority and female employees injured by the unlawful practices alleged in the complaint. 4

Consent Decree II and its accompanying Agreement deal with aspects of employment which are mainly company-controlled and thus not subject to collective bargaining. The companies again are broadly enjoined from any form of unlawful employment discrimination. Also, Consent Decree II requires the companies to initiate affirmative action programs in hiring, initial assignments, promotions, management training, and recruitment of minorities and females.

The decrees must be made to function in varying and peculiar situations in accordance with the parties' ambitious objectives. Furthermore, the parties contemplated that unforeseen interpretive issues will inevitably arise and require resolution. With these considerations in mind, the decrees provide for the establishment of implementation and enforcement procedures through a system of Implementation Committees. These committees are established at each major plant to which the decrees are made applicable. Each committee includes at least two union representatives, one of whom is a member of the largest minority group in the plant, 5 and an equal number of company members. The government is entitled to designate a representative to meet with any Implementation Committee. The Implementation Committees are charged with assuring compliance with Consent Decree I, including changes in local seniority rules and LOPs, as well as the establishment of goals and timetables for affirmative action under paragraph 10. In addition, it is the Implementation Committees' responsibility to furnish employees with information about their rights under the settlement.

The Audit and Review Committee, established under paragraph 13 of Consent Decree I, is the hub mechanism in the decrees' system of continuing review, enforcement, and compliance. It is composed on an industry-wide basis of five management members, five union members, and one government member. It meets regularly to oversee compliance with the decrees and to resolve disputes which come before it, including any questions that the Implementation Committees have been unable to resolve. Matters which the Audit and Review Committee cannot resolve unanimously may be brought before the district court. Furthermore, all parties to the decrees have stipulated on the record that paragraph 20 of Consent Decree I, which vests the district court with continuing jurisdiction for at least five years, permits the court to review fully and, if necessary, correct any action taken pursuant to the decrees, irrespective of whether a party requests such review. Beginning no later than December 31, 1975, the Audit and Review Committee will review the entire experience under Consent Decree I. The committee may then propose remedial steps at any plant in order to overcome deficiencies in either the decree or its results. If the government representative remains dissatisfied with a committee proposal, he may take the matter to the district court. Finally, the Audit and Review Committee is responsibile at least annually for reviews of the various Implementation Committees' performance in establishing and fulfilling affirmative action goals in job assignment, hiring, promotion and seniority, and minority-female recruitment.

As the district court correctly determined, neither decree purports "to bind any individual employee or to prevent the institution or maintenance of private litigation." 6 At the time of the decrees' entry, hundreds of employment discrimination charges...

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