Goodall-Sanford, Inc. v. United Textile Workers of America, AFL, Local 1802

PETITIONER: Goodall-Sanford, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United Textile Workers of America, AFL, Local 1802
LOCATION: Congress

DOCKET NO.: 262
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 353 US 550 (1957)
ARGUED: Mar 25, 1957 / Mar 26, 1957
DECIDED: Jun 03, 1957

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Goodall-Sanford, Inc. v. United Textile Workers of America, AFL, Local 1802

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 25, 1957 in Goodall-Sanford, Inc. v. United Textile Workers of America, AFL, Local 1802

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 26, 1957 in Goodall-Sanford, Inc. v. United Textile Workers of America, AFL, Local 1802

Earl Warren:

Number 262, Goodall-Sanford Incorporated versus United Textile Workers of America.

Mr. Feller, you may continue.

David E. Feller:

Thank you, Your Honor.

May it please the Court.

When we -- Your Honors will recall that this is the second of three cases involving the question of whether under Section 301, a union may bring suit to enforce the agreement of the employer to arbitrate grievances arising during the term of that agreement concerning the interpretation and application of that agreement.

When I finished yesterday, I think I was going over the Senate Committee Report to what have -- the Senate said as to the meaning of Section 301.

I was unfortunately didn't have it with me at the moment, but today I do.

And I would like to continue to illustrate what I think is the critical question here and that is this, that although the legislative history of 301 is very unclear in many aspects, precisely, the state of the law that Congress meant to create is very uncertain.

There is one thing that is clear and that is that the objective of Section 301 was to ensure that where you had contracts which had the kind of promise, which is involved in these cases, that is the grievances will be arbitrated, will be handled through the grievance procedure and that there will not be strikes as a method of policing the enforcement of the contract that where you had that kind of a cause, there should not be strikes and legal remedy should be provided to ensure that there would be labor peace during the term of the agreement.

Now, how you get to the result is another question which I will come to, but I want to reiterate again and quote from the Senate Committee report that see they drive of what they were trying to accomplish in this area.

And I'm quoting from Senate Report Number 105 which is the report on the statute which eventually got enacted because the Senate version rather than the House version is different only in language and in one other respect which I'll come to later.

The Senate Committee Report, the first sentence, in dealing with these whole things says, “The committee bill makes collective bargaining contracts equally binding and enforceable on both parties."

This is their topical sentence in which they're telling you what they're doing.

They are making these contracts, binding and enforceable on both parties.

And they go on to say, that this is in according with the purpose of the Wagner Act which required the parties to bargaining with each other, quoting from this Court, describing the Wagner Act, “to the end that an employment contract binding on both party should be made.”

Then they go on to discuss the difficulties that have been involved in suing unions and I will -- there's no question that one of the problems they had was the difficulty in suing unions.

But the reason they were concerned with the difficulty in suing unions again was taken.

It says that -- that “If these contracts are not enforceable, you will not "promote industrial peace."

The chief advantage and the purpose of having a collective bargaining agreement is to ensure that you will have peace during the term of that agreement.

After discussing the procedural difficulties and other difficulties, I will say that there's a misconception that the difficulty was only procedural.

Really, the -- the principal difficulty in suing unions was not procedural as it is illustrated in the New York law where there is a statute making organizations, unincorporated association suable in their common name where you can get service on them.

But the substantive law of the State that since these organizations are not legal entities, all you get when you sue a union in its common name is in fact a suit against all the members and you can't recover for a breach of a collective bargaining agreement unless all of the members are -- are guilty of that breach, because the union per se is not a legal person.

In other words, they have construed their suit statute as a procedural suit, statute only not changing the substantive rule of liability with the respect to one incorporated associations.

They discussed all of these difficulties, difficulties in the touching union assets even where you can sue in the State.

And they say, “We want to make sure that both parties can sue effectively to -- to enforce collective bargaining agreements to the end that you will have industrial peace.”

And they say that there are no -- now, no federal law and this is a quote."

There are no federal laws giving either an employer or even the Government itself any right of action for any breach of these contracts.”

Thus, there is no quote, "substantive right" to enforce in order to make the union suable as such in federal courts.

And then, they conclude.

Statutory recognition of the collective agreement as a valid binding and enforceable contract is a logical and necessary step.