Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

PETITIONER:Granite Rock Co.
RESPONDENT:International Brotherhood of Teamsters et al.
LOCATION: Granite Rock Company

DOCKET NO.: 08-1214
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 561 US 287 (2010)
GRANTED: Jun 29, 2009
ARGUED: Jan 19, 2010
DECIDED: Jun 24, 2010

Garry G. Mathiason – for the petitioner
Peter D. Nussbaum – for the respondent International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Robert Bonsall – for the respondent Teamsters Local 287

Facts of the case

Granite Rock Co. filed suit against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters under the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) in a California federal district court. Granite Rock argued that a Teamsters strike constituted a breach of a no-strike clause in their collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”). The district court dismissed the case, finding that Granite Rock failed to state a claim, and denied Granite Rock’s request to compel arbitration in order to determine if the CBA had been ratified.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that while Granite Rock’s claim against the Teamsters was outside the scope of the LMRA, the dispute should be arbitrated. The court reasoned that both parties consented to arbitration when Teamsters asserted the arbitration clause in its filings and when Granite Rock sued under the contract which included the arbitration clause.


1) Does a federal court have jurisdiction to determine whether a collective bargaining agreement was formed when it is disputed whether any binding contract exists, but no party makes an independent challenge to the arbitration clause?

2) Does the LMRA provide a cause of action against an international union that is not a direct signatory to one of its local’s collective bargaining agreements, but causes a strike that breaches the CBA for its own benefit?

Media for Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – January 19, 2010 in Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – June 24, 2010 in Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

Justice Thomas has the opinion of the Court in two cases this morning.

Clarence Thomas:

First case in which I have the opinion is 08-1214, Granite Rock Company versus the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

This case comes to us on the writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Petitioner Granite Rock is a California Company that that employs members of the respondent unions, Teamsters local and its parent respondent International Brotherhood of Teamster.

I will refer to former as local and the later as IBT.

Granite Rock’s relationship with local is governed by a collective bargaining agreement or CBA that Granite Rock negotiated with local on July 2nd, 2004.

This case arose out of a strike that local initiated, Granite Rock sued the Union and in District Court claiming that strike violated the CBAs No Strike clause.

Granite Rock also sued IBT for interfering with the CBA.

Local and IBT moved to dismiss Granite Rock suit.

The District Court granted IBT’s motion to dismiss finding that a Federal Court can not recognize a tort claim for interference with the CBA by a non-signatory.

Local in turn argued that its strike did not violate the CBA’s No Strike Provision because its members had not yet voted to ratify the CBA and thus the CBA was not yet enforceable.

Local also argued that Granite Rock’s No Strike claim did not belong in Federal Court because the CBA required all disputes arising under its provision to go to arbitration.

The District Court agreed with local that Granite Rock’s No Strike claim was arbitratable but held that there was a factual question about when the CBA was ratified and this question was before that Court not an Arbitrator to resolve.

After Jury found that the CBA was ratified on July 2nd, the court sent Granite Rocks No-Strike claim to arbitration.

All parties appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s dismissal of Granite Rocks claims against IBT but reversed the District Court’s arbitration rule.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk, we reversed in part, affirm in part.

We reversed the Court of Appeal’s arbitration ruling because it does not accord with our decisions that arbitration is strictly a matter of agreement, thus a Court may not order parties to arbitrate the particular dispute unless the court is satisfied that the parties agreed to arbitrate that dispute.

The record and arguments probably before us do not establish that Granite Rock agreed to do so.

We affirm the District Court, the Court of Appeals refusal to recognize new Federal tort claim under the Labor Management Relations Act, that Granite Rock alleges against IBT even assuming that the Act authorizes us to recognize the claim, the record does not support Granite Rock’s argument that such a claim would be necessary to supplement other means of addressing IBT’s alleged interference with the CBA.

Justice Sotomayor has filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justice Stevens joins.