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Sheet Metal Workers' International Association v. Barber-Colman Co.

May 26, 1967

SHEET METAL WORKERS' INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION, LOCAL NO. 573, AFL-CIO ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES
v.
BARBER-COLMAN COMPANY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Hastings, Chief Judge, and Schnackenberg and Cummings, Circuit Judges.

Author: Cummings

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

This suit was brought by two Unions and three employees to compel Barber-Colman Company ("Barber") to arbitrate a dispute arising under an agreement between the Unions and Barber. Federal jurisdiction was conferred by Section 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act (29 USC ยง 185(a)).

In June 1964, the Unions called a strike at four of Barber's plants after negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement had collapsed. The three plaintiff-employees of Barber participated in the strike which persisted until October 15, 1964. The Unions and Barber then agreed in principle upon a new collective bargaining agreement, which was executed on October 21, 1964.

During the strike, the three individual plaintiffs and 17 other Barber employees were discharged on the ground of alleged misconduct in connection with their strike activities. The three individual plaintiffs were indicted by a Winnebago County, Illinois, grand jury on September 15, 1964; the indictment charged them with arson and criminal damage to property. On December 14, 1964, their motion to suppress evidence was granted, and a week later, on motion of the State's Attorney, the indictment was nolle prossed.

On October 15, 1964, Barber and the Unions signed a Settlement Agreement dealing with the three individual employees and the 17 other striking employees who had been charged with violence. The Settlement Agreement provided as follows:

[1] Inasmuch as the company has suspended the following employees pending the determination of their status: Larry Higer, Francis Fry and Elmer Pruitt, and Ronald Bowen, Delmos Graves, Laurence Woolbright, Melvin Morelock, Jr., Frank R. Podeszwa, John Blaser, Clarence North, Virgil Johnson, John H. Lenz, Tom Ward, Dave Bevens, Frederick Joeston, Velmer White, Randolph Gregg, William B. Tratnik, Lawrence Parr, George R. Toon and it is hereby provided as follows:

[2] Higer, Fry and Pruitt can choose to have their status determined by an arbitrator, or can choose to have their status determined by the decision of the criminal court where they are now under indictment. If they choose to have the criminal court decision fix their status then: if any one is found guilty he will be considered discharged, but if he is found innocent, he shall be reinstated to employment with back pay to the date of this agreement. If they select arbitration an arbitrator will be designated by the Company and the Union in the manner provided in Article V.*fn1

[3] Criminal Court proceedings will not affect the status of the other above named employees and shall not be considered in the arbitration procedure hereinafter provided.

[4] All others shall have the right to quit or have their status determined by arbitration. The personnel record of an employee who quits will reflect only the fact that he quit.

[5] If they elect arbitration a different arbitrator shall be selected by the Company and the Union in the manner provided in Article V.

[6] The arbitrator's decision in these cases shall not be used as a basis or a precedent for any future arbitration.

[7] The arbitrator shall be empowered to hear all the cases and to determine whether the employees, or any of them, shall be reinstated to their jobs and ...


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