Groves v. Ring Screw Works, Ferndale Fastener Division
After petitioner employees were discharged from their jobs, they and petitioner union invoked the grievance procedures in the collective-bargaining agreements between the union and respondent company. Those agreements provide for voluntary grievance procedures, including arbitration, and reserve the parties' respective rights to resort to economic weapons when the procedures fail to resolve a dispute, but are silent as to judicial remedies. Upon failure of the grievance procedures, petitioners filed an action under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 1947 (LMRA), which provides a judicial remedy for the breach of a collective-bargaining agreement. The District Court granted the company's motion for summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the agreements brought about an inference that a strike or other job action was the perceived remedy for failure of successful resolution of a grievance absent agreed arbitration, such that recourse to the courts under § 301 was barred.
Held: Petitioners may seek a judicial remedy under § 301. While § 301's strong presumption favoring judicial enforcement of collective-bargaining agreements may be overcome whenever the parties expressly agree to a different method for adjustment of their disputes, Congress, in passing the LMRA, envisaged peaceful methods of dispute resolution. Thus, the statute does not favor an agreement to resort to economic warfare rather than to mediation, arbitration, or judicial review. A contract provision reserving the union's right to resort to economic weapons cannot be construed as an agreement to divest the courts of jurisdiction to resolve disputes. Such an agreement would have to be written much more clearly. Pp. 172-176.
882 F.2d 1081 (CA6 1989), reversed and remanded.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
Laurence Gold, Washington, D.C., for petitioners.
Terence V. Page, Birmingham, Mich., for respondent.
Justice STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.