Monday, May 19, 2014

United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co. case brief summary


PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Petitioner sought review of a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the dismissal of petitioner's complaint to compel arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement because contracting was strictly a function of management that was excluded from the agreement.
OVERVIEW: The court reversed a decision that held that contracting non-employees to perform company duties was a function that was strictly a function of management, which was exempted from the arbitration provision of a collective bargaining agreement between petitioner and respondent. The court disagreed with the lower courts that contracting out grievances were excepted from the grievance procedure of the agreement. Although the agreement exempted from arbitration matters that were strictly a function of management, the contracting function did not fall into this category because the agreement did not exclude contracting out nor was there any showing that the parties designed the phrase "strictly a function of management" to encompass any and all forms of contracting out. The grievance alleged that the contracting out was a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. There was, therefore, a dispute as to the meaning and application of the provisions of the agreement, which the parties agreed would be determined by arbitration. Whether contracting out violated the agreement was a question for the arbiter, not for the courts.
OUTCOME: The court reversed the dismissal of petitioner's complaint to compel arbitration.

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