not believed that a collective bargaining agreement can divest
courts of established jurisdiction, at least unless that is
clearly and mutually agreed upon by both parties. Certainly
the cases holding that courts will defer to arbitration where
that has been agreed upon are inapposite where, as here,
arbitration is expressly rejected.
To accept the proposition that either a reservation of right
to "economic recourse," or the resort to such, in any dispute
over the meaning of a collective bargaining agreement ousts a
court of existing jurisdiction to construe the agreement on
application of either party (either before, during, or after
there has been some resort to economic recourse) would simply
mean that no signed collective bargaining agreement of this
type could have any more meaning or sanctity as a contract
than either party wished to accord to it at any given time. To
the extent that any language in Standard Food Products Corp.
v. Brandenburg, 436 F.2d 964 (C.A.2 1970), and Haynes v. U.S.
Pipe & Foundry Co., 362 F.2d 414 (C.A.5 1966), may be
considered authority for that proposition, such language is
misleading, as is all the other obiter dicta quoted by
defendant in argument on this point. Nothing which this court
has found in the still developing federal case law in support
of responsible collective bargaining requires or even suggests
such a proposition.
If economic recourse is in fact resorted to and does in fact
bring agreement in any dispute, there obviously will not be
litigation, or any pending litigation presumably will be
dismissed as settled when any such agreement is achieved; but
neither of those circumstances can mean that, if the economic
pressure does not bring agreement between parties on the
meaning of a written collective agreement they already have
mutually accepted, a court should or must refuse to construe
the agreement for them at the instance of either party thereto
or of an employee covered thereby.
Either party which chooses to exercise its unquestioned
right to economic warfare to enforce a certain interpretation
of an agreement must do so at the peril, at least, of a
judicial construction of the agreement that its interpretation
is erroneous under the law. It is not necessary to decide at
this time the full implications of and the extent of
enforceability of such judicial interpretation under
hypothetical circumstances; but failure to so decide and
declare by no means requires abdication of clear statutory
jurisdiction. International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft
etc., Local 391 v. Webster Electric Co., 299 F.2d 195 (C.A.7
1962), is fully in accord with this view, even if not "on all
fours" on the facts.
Defendant's arguments on the possible adverse effect on
future grievance settlements and on judicial business of the
court's availability to interpret agreements in these
circumstances is pure speculation. It fails completely when it
is recognized that such availability does not displace
economic recourse, at least pending judicial construction of
the agreement; that judicial availability does not require
either party to use it, and presumably neither will unless
value is believed achievable thereby; and that the primary
reason for the very existence of civil courts is to provide an
available alternative to more destructive means of dispute
settlement. This court decides that it has authority to
construe the collective bargaining agreement between the
parties as requested by plaintiff here; and that it should not
abstain from so doing simply to maintain "economic recourse"
as the only available means of settlement of such dispute.
It seems crystal clear to this court that any holding to the
contrary would be a distinct setback for collective bargaining
in general and for the efficacy of the many collective
agreements which are being achieved constantly in
labor-management relations without requiring arbitration of
later disputes over interpretation. The federal courts, in
of collective bargaining as a sound means of approaching
labor-management peace, should not say to parties in the
circumstances existing here, "You're simply going to have to
fight it out — the courts are closed so far as you are
Accordingly, it is ordered that defendant's motion for
summary judgment is denied.
It is further ordered that plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment is allowed, and the court does hereby declare that
subparagraph (c) of the second paragraph of Article XXIII of
the agreement between the parties dated April 1, 1967 was in
effect in accordance with its terms after April 1, 1970, so as
not to require wages higher than "the wage rates of the old
contract" during any period or on any work described in said
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