STEELWORKERS V. WARRIOR & GULF CO., 363 U. S. 574 (1960)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Co., 363 U.S. 574 (1960)

United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co.

No. 443

Argued April 27, 1960

Decided June 20, 1960

363 U.S. 574


This suit under § 301 (a) of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, was brought by a labor union to compel arbitration of a grievance based upon the employer's practice of contracting out work while laying off employees who could have performed such work. The collective bargaining agreement between the parties contained "no strike" and "no lock-out" provisions, and set up a grievance procedure culminating in arbitration. It provided that "matters which are strictly a function of management shall not be subject to arbitration," but it also provided that,

"Should differences arise . . . as to the meaning and application of the provisions of this Agreement, or should any local trouble of any kind arise,"

the grievance procedure should be followed. The Court of Appeals ruled that deciding whether to contract out work was "strictly a function of management" within the meaning of the agreement, and it sustained a judgment of the District Court dismissing the complaint.

Held: It erred in doing so, and the judgment is reversed. Pp. 363 U. S. 575-585.

(a) In a suit under §301(a), judicial inquiry must be strictly confined to the question whether the reluctant party did agree to arbitrate the grievance or to give the arbitrator power to make the award he made; an order to arbitrate the particular grievance should not be denied unless it may be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation that covers the asserted dispute; and doubts should be resolved in favor of coverage. Pp. 363 U. S. 582-583.

(b) In the absence of any express provision excluding a particular grievance from arbitration, only the most forceful evidence of a purpose to exclude the claim from arbitration can prevail, particularly where, as here, the exclusion clause is vague, and the arbitration clause quite broad. Pp. 363 U. S. 583-585.

(c) Since, in this case, the parties had agreed that any dispute "as to the meaning of this Agreement" would be determined by

Page 363 U. S. 575

arbitration, it was for the arbitrator, not the courts, to decide whether the contracting out here involved violated the agreement. P. 363 U. S. 585.

269 F.2d 633, reversed.

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