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U.S. Supreme Court

Employees v. Westinghouse Elec. Co., 348 U.S. 437 (1955)

Association of Westinghouse Salaried Employees v.

Westinghouse Electric Corp.

No. 51

Argued November 17-18, 1954

Decided March 28, 1955

348 U.S. 437


Under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act and the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, petitioner, an unincorporated labor organization, brought suit in a federal district court in Pennsylvania against respondent, a Pennsylvania corporation engaged in interstate commerce, to enforce a collective bargaining agreement between them. Petitioner alleged that it was the collective bargaining representative of a group of respondent's employees, and that respondent had violated the agreement by refusing to pay 4,000 of them for work on one day when they were absent. It asked the court to interpret the contract, declare the rights of the parties, compel respondent to make an accounting, and enter judgment for the unpaid wages against respondent and in favor of the individual employees, who were not made parties to the suit.

Held: the federal court did not have jurisdiction of the suit. Pp. 439-465.

210 F.2d 623 affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, in an opinion joined by MR. JUSTICE BURTON and MR. JUSTICE MINTON, concluded that:

1. Neither the text of § 301 nor its legislative history implies the existence or the establishment of a body of general federal substantive law for application in suits under it. Pp. 348 U. S. 441-449.

2. In the present suit, there is neither diversity of citizenship nor a "federal question" in the traditional sense. Therefore, a serious constitutional question would arise if § 301 were construed to authorize this suit in a federal court. Pp. 348 U. S. 449-452.

3. This constitutional problem may not be avoided by judicial creation of federal substantive law. Pp. 348 U. S. 452-459.

4. In view of the constitutional problem and in the absence of any positive indication either on the face of the statute or in its chanrobles.com-red

Page 348 U. S. 438

legislative history that such suits were contemplated, § 301 will not be construed to grant a federal court jurisdiction over this suit. Pp. 348 U. S. 459-461.


MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN, in a concurring opinion joined by MR. JUSTICE CLARK, concluded that the only question involved is one of statutory interpretation, and that the language of § 301 is not sufficiently explicit, nor its legislative history sufficiently clear, to indicate that Congress intended to authorize a union to enforce in a federal court the uniquely personal right of an employee for whom it had bargained to receive compensation for services rendered his employer. P. 348 U. S. 461.


MR. JUSTICE REED, concurring, concluded that:

1. A cause of action for breach of a contract made under the National Labor Relations Act between a union and an employer is a cause of action arising under federal law, and Congress may constitutionally give a federal court jurisdiction over it. Pp. 348 U. S. 461-464.

2. In this case, the claim for wages arises from separate hiring contracts between the employer and each employee, not from the collective bargaining agreement between the employer and the union. Therefore, it does not involve such a violation of a contract between an employer and a union as is required to confer jurisdiction under § 301. Pp. 348 U. S. 464-465.

A suit brought by petitioner against respondent under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act was dismissed on the merits by the District Court. 107 F. Supp. 692. The Court of Appeals directed a dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. 210 F.2d 623. This Court granted certiorari. 347 U.S. 1010. Affirmed, p. 348 U. S. 461. chanrobles.com-red

Page 348 U. S. 439


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