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Affiliated Food Distributors Inc. v. Local Union No. 229

August 14, 1973

AFFILIATED FOOD DISTRIBUTORS, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
LOCAL UNION NO. 229, AFFILIATED WITH THE INTERNATIONAL BROTHERHOOD OF TEAMSTERS, CHAUFFEURS, WAREHOUSEMEN AND HELPERS OF AMERICA, APPELLEE.



(D.C. Civil Action No. 71-513) APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Author: Stapleton

Before: ALDISERT and ADAMS, Circuit Judges; and STAPLETON, District Judge.

Opinion OF THE COURT

STAPLETON, District Judge.

The sole question on this appeal is whether the appellant-employer is bound to arbitrate its damage claim against the appellee-union for breach of a no-strike clause. Appellant, Affiliated Food Distributors, Inc. ("Affiliated") brought this action pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C.A. ยง 185 (1965). On motion of the appellee, Local Union No. 229, the district court ordered a stay of the action pending arbitration. Affiliated appealed from this interlocutory order,*fn1 and urges that the collective bargaining agreement between the parties does not require arbitration of its damage claim. We agree and reverse.

There is a clear congressional policy favoring private, extra-judicial resolution of labor-management disputes.*fn2 In furtherance of this policy, the Supreme Court of the United States issued the following mandate in United Steel Workers of America v. Warrior and Gulf Nav. Co., 363 U.S. 574, 582, 80 S. Ct. 1347, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1409 (1960):

An order to arbitrate the particular grievance should not be denied unless it may be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation that covers the asserted dispute. Doubts should be resolved in favor of coverage.

However, even in the presence of this clear congressional policy, it remains the rule that parties are bound to arbitrate only those disputes which, under a fair construction of their collective bargaining agreement, they have bound themselves to arbitrate. As the Supreme Court noted in Atkinson v. Sinclair Refining Co., 370 U.S. 238, 241, 8 L. Ed. 2d 462, 82 S. Ct. 1318 (1962):

Under our decisions whether or not the Company was bound to arbitrate, as well as what issues it must arbitrate, is a matter to be determined by the Court on the basis of the contract entered into by the parties.... '[Arbitration] is a matter of contract and a party cannot be required to submit to arbitration any dispute which he has not agreed so to submit.'

At the heart of this matter, therefore, is the intention of the parties when they negotiated and signed their collective bargaining agreement. The parties chose the following words to evidence their agreement regarding arbitration:

Article XXIII - Arbitration

Any difference, grievance, or dispute between the Company and the Union arising out of, or relating to this Agreement, or its interpretation or application, or the enforcement thereof, except as otherwise specifically provided herein, shall be subject to the following procedure:

A. Any grievance which arises may be taken up by the Union (Stewards) with a representative of the department involved, or with an official of the Company. Grievances must be presented in writing.

B. In the event that the grievance should not have been resolved within three (3) working days, the Business Representative of the Union shall take the subject matter up with the Employer. If the Business Representative of the Union and the Employer cannot reach a satisfactory agreement within three (3) working days, the subject matter shall be referred to arbitration immediately. The arbitrator may be selected by mutual agreement between the Company and the Union. If no agreement is reached on the ...


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