Steelworkers v. Enterprise Car - 363 U.S. 593 (1960)
U.S. Supreme Court
Steelworkers v. Enterprise Car, 363 U.S. 593 (1960)
United Steelworkers of America v. Enterprise Wheel & Car Corp.
Argued April 28, 1960
Decided June 20, 1960
363 U.S. 593
Employees were discharged during the term of a collective bargaining agreement containing a provision for arbitration of disputes, including differences "as to the meaning and application" of the agreement, and a provision for reinstatement with back pay of employees discharged in violation of the agreement. The discharges were arbitrated after the agreement had expired, and the arbitrator found that they were in violation of the agreement and that the agreement required reinstatement with back pay, minus pay for a ten-day suspension and such sums as the employees had received from other employment. Respondent refused to comply with the award, and the District Court directed it to do so. The Court of Appeals held that (a) failure of the award to specify the amounts to be deducted from the back pay rendered the award unenforceable, though that defect could be remedied by requiring the parties to complete the arbitration, (b) an award for back pay subsequent to the date of expiration of the collective bargaining agreement could not be enforced, and (c) the requirement for reinstatement of the discharged employees was unenforceable because the collective bargaining agreement had expired.
Held: The judgment of the District Court should have been affirmed with a modification requiring the specific amounts due the employees to be definitely determined by arbitration. Pp. 363 U. S. 594-599.
(a) Federal courts should decline to review the merits of arbitration awards under collective bargaining agreements. Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., ante, p. 363 U. S. 574. P. 363 U. S. 596.
(b) The opinion of the arbitrator in this case, as it bears upon the award of back pay beyond the date of the agreement's expiration and reinstatement, is ambiguous, but mere ambiguity in the opinion accompanying an award is not a reason for refusing to enforce the award, even when it permits the inference that the arbitrator may have exceeded his authority. Pp. 363 U. S. 597-598.
(c) The question of interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement is a question for the arbitrator, and the courts have no
business overruling his construction of the contract merely because their interpretation of it is different from his. Pp. 363 U. S. 598-599.
(d) The Court of Appeals erred in holding that an award for back pay subsequent to the date of expiration of the collective bargaining agreement could not be enforced, and that the requirement for reinstatement of the discharged employees was unenforceable because the collective bargaining agreement had expired. Pp. 363 U. S. 596, 363 U. S. 599.
(e) The judgment of the District Court ordering respondent to comply with the arbitrator's award should be modified so that the amount due the employees may be definitely determined by arbitration. P. 363 U. S. 599.
69 F. 2d 327, reversed in part.