United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp, No. 538

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFRANKFURTER; BLACK; WHITTAKER
Citation80 S.Ct. 1358,363 U.S. 593,4 L.Ed.2d 1424
Decision Date20 June 1960
Docket NumberNo. 538
PartiesUNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, Petitioner, v. ENTERPRISE WHEEL AND CAR CORP

363 U.S. 593
80 S.Ct. 1358
4 L.Ed.2d 1424
UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA, Petitioner,

v.

ENTERPRISE WHEEL AND CAR CORP.

No. 538.
Argued April 28, 1960.
Decided June 20, 1960.

Page 594

Mr. Elliott Bredhoff and David E. Feller, Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. William C. Beatty, Huntington, W.Va., for respondent.

Opinion of the Court by Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, announced by Mr. Justice BRENNAN.

Petitioner union and respondent during the period relevant here had a collective bargaining agreement which provided that any differences 'as to the meaning and application' of the agreement should be submitted to arbitration and that the arbitrator's decision 'shall be final and binding on the parties.' Special provisions were included concerning the suspension and discharge of employees. The agreement stated:

'Should it be determined by the Company or by an arbitrator in accordance with the grievance procedure that the employee has been suspended unjustly or discharged in violation of the provisions of this Agreement, the Company shall reinstate the employee and pay full compensation at the employee's regular rate of pay for the time lost.'

Page 595

The agreement also provided:

'* * * It is understood and agreed that neither party will institute civil suits or legal proceedings against the other for alleged violation of any of the provisions of this labor contract; instead all disputes will be settled in the manner outlined in this Article III—Adjustment of Grievances.'

A group of employees left their jobs in protest against the discharge of one employee. A union official advised them at once to return to work. An official of respondent at their request gave them permission and then rescinded it. The next day they were told they did not have a job any more 'until this thing was settled one way or the other.'

A grievance was filed; and when respondent finally refused to arbitrate, this suit was brought for specific enforcement of the arbitration provisions of the agreement. The District Court ordered arbitration. The arbitrator found that the discharge of the men was not justified, though their conduct, he said, was improper. In his view the facts warranted at most a suspension of the men for 10 days each. After their discharge and before the arbitration award the collective bargaining agreement had expired. The union, however, continued to represent the workers at the plant. The arbitrator rejected the contention that expiration of the agreement barred reinstatement of the employees. He held that the provision of the agreement above quoted imposed an unconditional obligation on the employer. He awarded reinstatement with back pay, minus pay for a 10-day suspension and such sums as these employees received from other employment.

Respondent refused to comply with the award. Petitioner moved the District Court for enforcement. The District Court directed respondent to comply. 168 F.Supp. 308. The Court of Appeals, while agreeing that

Page 596

the District Court had jurisdiction to enforce an arbitration award under a collective bargaining agreement,1 held that the failure of the award to specify the amounts to be deducted from the back pay rendered the award unenforceable. That defect, it agreed, could be remedied by requiring the parties to complete the arbitration. It went on to hold, however, that an award for back pay subsequent to the date of termination of the collective bargaining agreement could not be enforced. It also held that the requirement for reinstatement of the discharged employees was likewise unenforceable because the collective bargaining agreement had expired. 269 F.2d 327. We granted certiorari. 361 U.S. 929, 80 S.Ct. 371.

The refusal of courts to review the merits of an arbitration award is the proper approach to arbitration under collective bargaining agreements. The federal policy of settling labor disputes by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards. As we stated in united Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 1347, the arbitrators under these collective agreements are indispensable agencies in a continuous collective bargaining process. They sit to settle disputes at the plant level disputes that require for their solution knowledge of the custom and practices of a particular factory or of a particular industry as reflected in particular agreements.2

Page 597

When an arbitrator is commissioned to interpret and apply the collective bargaining agreement, he is to bring his informed judgment to bear in order to reach a fair solution of a problem. This is especially true when it comes to formulating remedies. There the need is for flexibility in meeting a wide variety of situations. The draftsmen may never have thought of what specific remedy should be awarded to meet a particular contingency. Nevertheless, an arbitrator is confined to interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreement; he does not sit to dispense his own brand of industrial justice. He may of course look for guidance from many sources, yet his award is legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement. When the arbitrator's words manifest an infidelity to this obligation, courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award.

The opinion of the arbitrator in this case, as it bears upon the award of back pay beyond the date of the agreement's expiration and reinstatement, is ambiguous. It may be read as based solely upon the arbitrator's view of the requirements of enacted legislation, which would mean that he exceeded the scope of the submission....

To continue reading

Request your trial
3894 practice notes
  • Service Employees International Union v. County of Napa, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 19, 1979
    ...1403; Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Co., supra, 363 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409; and Steelworkers v. Enterprise Corp. (1960) 363 U.S. 593, 80 S.Ct. 1358, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424. The Steelworkers Trilogy has effectively become a part of California law. (See Posner v. Grunwald-Marx, Inc.......
  • Bruno v. United Steelworkers of America, No. 91-CV-287.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • January 29, 1992
    ...by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards." Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 596 4 L.Ed.2d 1424, 80 S.Ct. 1358 1360 (1960). As long as the arbitrator's award "draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreeme......
  • Pennsylvania State Police v. Pennsylvania State Troopers' Ass'n (Betancourt)
    • United States
    • Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 8, 1993
    ...courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award. United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 80 S.Ct. 1358, 1361, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424 (1960) quoted in FOP Lodge No. 5 (Wilson), 129 Pa.Commonwealth Ct. at 396, 565 A.2d at 1234-35. (Emphasis 8 ......
  • Barrowclough v. Kidder, Peabody & Co., Inc., No. 83-5777
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 18, 1985
    ...have been held to be subject to arbitral resolution. See The Steelworkers Trilogy, United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S.Ct. 1358, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424 (1960); United Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409 (1960......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3886 cases
  • Service Employees International Union v. County of Napa, AFL-CI
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 19, 1979
    ...1403; Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Co., supra, 363 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409; and Steelworkers v. Enterprise Corp. (1960) 363 U.S. 593, 80 S.Ct. 1358, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424. The Steelworkers Trilogy has effectively become a part of California law. (See Posner v. Grunwald-Marx, Inc.......
  • Bruno v. United Steelworkers of America, No. 91-CV-287.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
    • January 29, 1992
    ...by arbitration would be undermined if courts had the final say on the merits of the awards." Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 596 4 L.Ed.2d 1424, 80 S.Ct. 1358 1360 (1960). As long as the arbitrator's award "draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreeme......
  • Pennsylvania State Police v. Pennsylvania State Troopers' Ass'n (Betancourt)
    • United States
    • Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
    • November 8, 1993
    ...courts have no choice but to refuse enforcement of the award. United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel and Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 597, 80 S.Ct. 1358, 1361, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424 (1960) quoted in FOP Lodge No. 5 (Wilson), 129 Pa.Commonwealth Ct. at 396, 565 A.2d at 1234-35. (Emphasis 8 ......
  • Barrowclough v. Kidder, Peabody & Co., Inc., No. 83-5777
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 18, 1985
    ...have been held to be subject to arbitral resolution. See The Steelworkers Trilogy, United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp., 363 U.S. 593, 80 S.Ct. 1358, 4 L.Ed.2d 1424 (1960); United Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574, 80 S.Ct. 1347, 4 L.Ed.2d 1409 (1960......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles

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