High Court Rules in Labor Union Case

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Labor unions cannot sue in federal court to cancel a contract on grounds the employer lied to get the union's agreement, the Supreme Court said Monday.

Ruling unanimously in a Pennsylvania dispute, the justices said federal courts are supposed to hear cases involving alleged violations of contracts, not claims of bad-faith bargaining.

"Because the union's complaint alleges no violation of the collective-bargaining agreement, neither we nor the federal courts below have... jurisdiction over this case," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the court. Justice John Paul Stevens, in a separate concurring opinion, noted that the National Labor Relations Board has the primary authority to hear and decide claims of bad-faith bargaining. Monday's decision reversed a federal appeals court ruling that allowed a local unit of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers to take its contract dispute to federal court. The UAW sued over its 1994 contract with a division of AVCO that manufactures aircraft engines at a plant in Williamsport, Pa. During contract negotiations, the union asked the company to disclose any plans to subcontract out work currently being performed by UAW workers. A company official said he knew of no such plans, according to the union. The union made no demands regarding the subcontracting issue, and it ratified a contract in April 1994 that included a no-strike clause. …

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