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Law School Case Brief

United Steelworkers of Am. v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co. - 363 U.S. 574, 80 S. Ct. 1347 (1960)

Rule:

Apart from matters that the parties specifically exclude, all of the questions on which the parties disagree must come within the scope of the grievance and arbitration provisions of the collective agreement. The grievance procedure is, in other words, a part of the continuous collective bargaining process. It, rather than a strike, is the terminal point of a disagreement.

Facts:

Petitioner union, United Steelworkers of America, filed a complaint against respondent company, Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company, to compel arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement. The complaint was dismissed and the dismissal was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The ruling was anchored on the argument that contracting was strictly a function of management that was excluded from the agreement. The union filed a petition seeking certiorari review.

Issue:

Does contracting out grievances fall outside the grievance procedure of the collective bargaining agreement?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The United States Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of the union's complaint to compel arbitration. 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.

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