Before McLAUGHLIN, STALEY, and HASTIE, Circuit Judges.
This appeal requires that we decide whether arbitration, as prescribed by the parties in a written collective bargaining agreement, can be enforced by a federal court under Section 4 of the Arbitration Act as codified and reenacted as Title 9 of the United States Code,*fn1 and, if so, whether petitioner has made out a claim for relief.
A collective bargaining agreement between appellant, hereinafter designated as Local 1210 or the union, and appellee, hereinafter designated as Greyhound Lines or the company, provided for arbitration of disputes arising thereunder. There came a time when Local 1210 submitted to Greyhound Lines in writing a grievance relating that the company had announced and posted bid sheets for certain new runs without obtaining the approval of the union. In reply the company asserted that it had acted in compliance with the applicable provision of their collective bargaining agreement by consulting with proper representatives of the union prior to the posting and therefore, that no question of violation of the terms of the agreement was presented. A further exchange of letters ensued in which a request by the union for arbitration was refused, the company reiterating its prior stand. The foregoing correspondence was then incorporated by reference into a complaint filed in the district court by Local 1210 in an effort to obtain an order pursuant to Section 4 of the Arbitration Act directing the company to arbitrate the alleged dispute. A motion to dismiss "because the petition fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and because the Court has no jurisdiction under the Arbitration Act" was granted without opinion. This appeal followed.
Our first consideration, the reach of the statute,*fn2 involves two separate questions of the construction to be placed on language which appears in Section 1 of the Arbitration Act,*fn3 as it has been codified and reenacted as Title 9 of the United States Code.*fn4
The text of Section 1, as originally enacted in 1925, appeared without section number immediately after the enacting clause. It began with definitions of the phrase "maritime transactions" and the word "commerce". These definitions were separated by a semi-colon. The second definition, that of "commerce" was followed by a comma and this language: "but nothing herein contained shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce."
The sections which followed contained the operative provisions of the statute. Section 2 declared valid and enforceable written arbitration agreements in maritime transactions or in contracts evidencing transactions in commerce. Section 3 provided for judicial action staying proceedings designed to litigate issues covered by precedent written agreement to submit to arbitration. Section 4 gave district courts power on appropriate petition to compel arbitration where the controversy was with in federal jurisdiction and the written agreement of the parties called for arbitration.
In applying these several provisions of the statute, courts have had occasion to decide whether the phrase "nothing herein contained" as it appeared in the excepting language of the first section meant "nothing in this statute", "nothing in this section", or "nothing in the foregoing definition of commerce". For present purposes, it will not be necessary to distinguish between the last two alternatives.
In cases arising under Section 3, as originally enacted, this court held that the quoted language of exception qualified merely the preceding definition of commerce and only to that extent affected the rest of the Act. Donahue v. Susquehanna Collieries Co., 1943, 138 F.2d 3, 149 A.L.R. 271; Watkins v. Hudson Coal Co., 1945, 151 F.2d 311. We read the words "nothing herein contained" as meaning "nothing in the foregoing definition of commerce". However, in a case arising under the same section, the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit took the opposite view reasoning that the ambiguous phrase meant "nothing in this statute". Gatliff Coal Co. v. Cox, 1944, 142 F.2d 876.
With the Courts of Appeals thus divided on the construction of the exception, Congress, in 1947, reenacted and codified the Arbitration Act as Title 9 of the United States Code. The text was not changed. But the catchline which the compilers of the United States Code had inserted at the beginning of Section 1 of the Arbitration Act when it was included as Section 1 in Title 9 of the Code, and which had not appeared in the original Act, was now "enacted into positive law" as follows: " § 1. 'Maritime transactions' and 'commerce' defined; exceptions to operation of title".
This history considered, the company contends and the district court apparently decided that by the newly enacted catchline to Section 1, Congress resolved the disagreement between circuits and approved the construction theretofore placed on the excepting language by the 6th Circuit. Moreover, since the codification the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has adopted the construction of the 6th Circuit, although upon reasoning which indicates that it would have done so even under the original enactment. International Union United Furniture Workers v. Colonial Hardwood Flooring Co., 4 Cir., 1948, 168 F.2d 33.
Unquestionably, the original text was ambiguous. Enacting a catchline rather than amending the text is an unusual method of removing ambiguity in a text. But in this case we think the enactment serves that purpose. The only alternative would be to declare that the catchline is without significance. But we are unwilling to hold that language enacted by Congress has no meaning when the words used and the circumstances of their employment suggest a meaning that is neither unreasonable nor far fetched.
Accordingly, we conclude that our earlier construction of the exception is inconsistent with the intention of Congress as subsequently made manifest. For that reason we now abandon that construction and hold that the words "nothing herein contained" mean "nothing contained in Title 9". It follows that arbitration of a dispute arising out of a "contract of employment" cannot be required under that Title.
There remains to be considered whether the exception of "contracts of employment * * * of workers engaged in * * * interstate commerce" from the scope of the Act was intended to include collective bargaining agreements. Decision that such inclusion was intended is necessarily implicit in Gatliff Coal Co. v. Cox, supra and International Union United Furniture Workers v. Colonial Hardwood Flooring Co., supra. We did not have occasion to ...