GRANITE ROCK CO. v. INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS
October 28, 2013
Granite Rock Co. filed suit against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters under the Labor Management Relations Act 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. 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. (www.oyez.org )
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice John Paul Stevens, concurred in part and dissented in part. She agreed that the LMRA does not recognize a new common-law cause of action. However, she argued that the arbitration provision in the CBA did cover the dispute in question. She reasoned the correct approach was for the Court to simply determine (1) whether the parties had an agreement to arbitrate and (2) whether the agreement covered the dispute.
I agree with the court’s decision. The point of a collective bargaining agreement is to reach an agreement. There are time restrictions placed on the agreement, at which at the end of the specified amount of time, a new agreement will attempt to be made. If an agreement cannot be made, the workers agree not to work without a contract.