United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corporation

PETITIONER: United Steelworkers of America
RESPONDENT: Enterprise Wheel & Car Corporation
LOCATION: Bonneville Dam

DOCKET NO.: 538
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

CITATION: 363 US 593 (1960)
ARGUED: Apr 28, 1960
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1960

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 28, 1960 in United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corporation

Earl Warren:

-- America, Petitioner, versus Enterprise Wheel & Car Corporation.

Mr. Bredhoff.

Elliot Bredhoff:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case is similar to the two cases that were heard yesterday, the American Manufacturing Company case and the Warrior & Gulf case.

In that, this case involves the interpretation of Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act and the effect of that section has on the enforcement of arbitration provisions of a collective bargaining agreement.

The difference in this case from the others is that those involved questions of enforcing arbitrability under a contract, under grievance and arbitration provisions of the contract whereas this case involves the enforcement of an award already rendered by an arbitrator pursuant to the provisions of the contract.

The real question, I suppose, boils down to, should the courts review de novo an arbitrator's award which interprets and applies the provisions of a contract?

The facts or I believe in large part undisputed, the contract in this case was between the Steel Workers Union and the Enterprise Company at Huntington, West Virginia which ran for a period of one year from April 5th, 1956 to April 5th, 1957.

The critical contract clauses that are involved here are Article IV - Suspension and Discharge, which may be found on -- in the record, the first part of the record.

The record is in two parts in terms of pagination.

In -- in the first part, pages 17 and 18 contained the provisions of Article IV dealing with suspension and discharge.

And it is a typical type of suspension and discharge provision found in collective bargaining agreements.

It provides in summary and for no peremptory discharges.

If an employer wishes to discharge or discipline an employee, he must first invoke a suspension for no more than five days.

He must afford the employee a hearing.

He must present the employee with the statement of the offense and he must make the facts available surrounding the offense at the hearing, which he must afford the employee.

After that hearing, the employer is required to make a determination as to wether to extend or suspend -- sustain the discharge -- the -- the suspension or to convert the suspension into a discharge.

If the suspension is converted into a discharge, then the employee has the right to avail himself of the grievance provisions of the contract which are in Article III, were in Article III of the particular contract before us.

The provisions I've just summarized are the rough equivalent in a collective bargaining agreement of the procedural due process which we know at law.

It's the -- the rough equivalent in the industrial government of a -- under a collective bargaining agreement of the due process that is to be accorded an employee when he's -- when he is to be suspended or discharged by an employer.

Now, under the suspension and discharge provision, before we look at the grievance and arbitration machinery, there is a important provision which states, and this is on page 18 of the record, the first part of the record, "Should it be determined by the company or by an arbitrator in accordance with the grievance procedure that the employee has been suspended unjustly or discharged in violation of the provisions of this agreement, the company shall reinstate the employee and pay full compensation at the employee's regular rate of pay for the time lost."

That is a provision specifying the remedy whenever there is a determination that an employee has been improperly disciplined or discharged by an employer.

It is in a sense unlike most of the other provisions under a collective bargaining agreement where there are no specific remedies stated in the contract, but there are remedies provided through the law of arbitration and through practices and understandings of the parties.

Now, under Article III of that contract which appears on page 16 of the record, there is a provision that any differences which might arise between the company and the union or its members employed by the company as to the meaning and application of the provisions of this agreement require that an earnest effort shall be made to settle such differences immediately.

And then, there are steps set forth as to how those differences are to be resolved, the traditional type of steps at ascending levels of authority between the union and the company.

There's no dispute here, I take it, if there was an arbitrable issue.

Elliot Bredhoff:

There was at first, Justice Harlan, and --

But not now.

Elliot Bredhoff:

And I'll advert to that.

There is no dispute in this case at the present time, that's correct.