United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company

PETITIONER: United Steelworkers of America
RESPONDENT: Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company
LOCATION: Superior Court of Bibb County

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1958-1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 363 US 574 (1960)
ARGUED: Apr 27, 1960
DECIDED: Jun 20, 1960

Facts of the case


Media for United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 27, 1960 in United Steelworkers of America v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company

Earl Warren:

Number 443, United Steelworkers of America versus Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company.

Mr. Feller you may proceed.

David E. Feller:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is a little more difficult case than the one which we have just been through, a little more difficult.

And the difficulty is two-fold.

One is in the nature of the grievance.

Now, this is the kind of grievance which -- that seems to raise hackles among management people, arbitrators, creates more confusion than I think any other single type of grievance.

And also the -- there is some language in the arbitration agreement which does not appear in the usual or standard form of arbitration.

We think that for the same reasons which we set forward in the first case, the American Manufacturing, the Court should come to the result here.

But it will take us a little more time I think to dispose of these difficulties.

Now, to the facts, in this case, there was a contract, again, executed in 1956.

The Company is the Warrior & Gulf Navigation Company which operates a barge line.

It's a wholly owned subsidiary of United States Steel.

It has a terminal at Chickasaw, Alabama.

The unit involved and this is important as it bears on the grievance, the nature of the grievance, was not a production unit in the usual manufacturing established but a maintenance unit.

This was a unit and the contract covered people whose job was to repair these barges as they came into the terminal from time to time.

In 1958, the union filed a grievance essentially claiming that what the Company was doing was having its repair work done instead of at its own terminal.

At other terminals nearby, contracting out, it's the word it used, to work to other employers.

And that this violated the agreement constituted, they said “a partial lockout,” it was the word of the grievance, because there were people who were laid off by Warrior & Gulf who did this kind of work, who could do this kind of work and who had in fact done this kind of work until the Company selected to have someone else do the work instead of -- of the employees of the collective bargaining unit.

The employer of the Company refused to arbitrate the grievance and a lawsuit was filed asking that the grievance be arbitrated.

Let me say a word about the grievance because this applies to both cases and indeed in all cases.

I will not treat the grievance the actual language of grievance as defining the scope of the contract claim.

Now, the Court of Appeals, even the dissenting judge treated it that way.

Grievances in the nature as being appalled by a workman not by staff representative the union usually, that work.

They're certainly aren't to be construed with the strictness which under the federal rules even the complaints drafted by lawyers no longer are treated.

And there's no provision for amendment.

And grievance really is just the starting paper which starts it off, the claims are defined and refined as the grievance procedure goes along.

In any case they filed a grievance saying that the Company had violated the agreement by contracting out this work.

The Company refused to arbitrate and it went to the Court.

In it's defense, in the --