Monday, May 19, 2014

United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp. case brief summary

United Steelworkers v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp.
CASE SYNOPSIS: Petitioner union sought a writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which held that a collective bargaining agreement between the union and respondent employer was unenforceable.

OVERVIEW: The union filed suit for specific enforcement of the arbitration provisions of a collective bargaining agreement with the employer. Arbitration was ordered, and the arbitrator awarded reinstatement with back pay, minus pay for a 10-day suspension and such sums as the employees received from other employment. The employer refused to comply, so the union moved for enforcement, and the employer was ordered to comply. The appellate court agreed that the district court had jurisdiction to enforce the award but held that the failure to specify the amounts to be rendered it unenforceable and that the requirement for reinstatement of the discharged employees was unenforceable because the agreement had expired. On certiorari, the United States Supreme Court held that the district court had exceeded its authority in reviewing the merits of the award and that the courts had no business overruling an arbitrator based on a different interpretation of the agreement. In reversing the appellate court's judgment, the Court concluded that although the arbitrator was commissioned to interpret and apply the collective bargaining agreement, he had to use his own judgment in reaching a decision.

OUTCOME: The Court agreed with the appellate court that the district court's judgment should be modified so that the amounts due the employees could be definitely determined by arbitration. In all other respects, the Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, reversed the appellate court's judgment, except for the modification, and remanded the case to the district court for proceedings in conformity with the Court's opinion.

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