United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry v. Local 334, United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry

PETITIONER: United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry
RESPONDENT: Local 334, United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry
LOCATION: Home of George Summers

DOCKET NO.: 80-710
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 452 US 615 (1981)
ARGUED: Apr 29, 1981
DECIDED: Jun 22, 1981

ADVOCATES:
Jonathan G. Axelrod - for respondents
John Axelrod - on behalf of the Respondents
Laurence Stephen Gold - on behalf of the Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry v. Local 334, United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 29, 1981 in United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry v. Local 334, United Association of Journeymen & Apprentices of the Plumbing & Pipefitting Industry

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in United Association of Journeymen of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry v. Local 334.

Mr. Gold, I think you may proceed when you are ready.

Laurence Stephen Gold:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case which is here on a writ of certiorari to the 3rd Circuit concerns the status of suits brought on national union constitutions under Section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947.

That provision states, and I quote from page 2 of our opening brief, the blue brief:

"Suits for violations of contracts between an employer and a labor organization representing employees in an industry affecting commerce as defined in the Act or between any such labor organizations may be brought in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the parties. "

This case, as that makes clear, is about the second clause of that section.

At the present time, three courts of appeals, the 2nd, 4th, and 6th have taken the position that national union constitutions are within that jurisdictional grant.

One court of appeals, the 10th, has taken the opposite view, and six other courts of appeals have taken the view that the jurisdictional question depends on whether the actions affect labor management relations and have stated that test in widely varying ways.

William H. Rehnquist:

Mr. Gold, isn't there a certain undesirability in the test advanced by the last six circuits that you mentioned, you don't know when you go into court whether there is jurisdiction or not, depending on a whole bunch of factors?

Laurence Stephen Gold:

Our position, Mr. Justice Rehnquist, in part for the consideration you just stated, is that national constitutions fit the language of the statute, fit the purposes of Section 301, and are within the section.

We do not believe that the better view is that the parties by their pleadings or the courts by going though a factual inquiry should be deciding this matter on a case by case basis.

We think that that complicates the administration of the law and is not necessary in any way to carry out the proper view of the statute.

Byron R. White:

Well, there is that other view that the union constitution shouldn't ever be within this.

Laurence Stephen Gold:

Yes.

Byron R. White:

That would make it simple too, wouldn't it?

Laurence Stephen Gold:

That's right.

There is no doubt that the risks of disagreeing with Mr. Justice Rehnquist, or of agreeing with him, are there.

There are two different straightforward views, one, yes, and one, no.

We believe that for the reasons I am going to state yes is the proper answer rather than no.

Obviously, if the Court doesn't agree that yes is the answer and maybe would be a better answer as far as we're concerned than no, but we do think that yes is the proper approach.

William H. Rehnquist:

Yes wouldn't preclude a state action, would it?

Laurence Stephen Gold:

No, under Dowd Box v. Courtney the jurisdiction under 301 is the jurisdiction both in the federal courts and in the state courts.

Section 301 does not displace state court jurisdiction.

It supplements it with federal court jurisdiction.

The Court has so held.

Potter Stewart:

But the state is obligated to apply federal substantive law?

Laurence Stephen Gold:

That's correct, Mr. Justice Stewart.

Potter Stewart:

In that case or in Lucas Flour, I've forgotten which.

Laurence Stephen Gold:

Yes, under Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, the Section 301 law is federal.