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
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.
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.
3. This constitutional problem may not be avoided by judicial
creation of federal substantive law. Pp. 348 U. S.
4. In view of the constitutional problem and in the absence of
any positive indication either on the face of the statute or in
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
348 U. S.
Page 348 U. S. 439
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER announced the judgment of the Court and
an opinion in which MR. JUSTICE BURTON and MR. JUSTICE MINTON
Respondent is a Pennsylvania corporation engaged in the
manufacture and sale of electrical equipment in interstate
commerce. Petitioner, an unincorporated labor organization and the
collective bargaining representative of some 5,000 salaried
employees at two of respondent's plants, filed this suit against
respondent in the United States District Court for the Western
District of Pennsylvania to enforce collective bargaining
agreements then in effect between it and respondent. The suit was
brought under § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947,
61 Stat. 156, 29 U.S.C. § 185, and the Federal Declaratory Judgment
Act, 62 Stat. 964, as amended, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202.
More specifically, petitioner alleged that, under the contracts,
respondent was obligated to pay the employees represented by
petitioner their full salary during April, 1951, regardless of
whether they missed a day's work, unless the absence was due to
"furlough" or "leave of absence," and that respondent had violated
the contracts by deducting from the pay of some 4,000 of those
employees their wages for April 3, when they were absent. No reason
who given for their absence, but it was alleged that the reason was
not furlough or leave of absence. The employees were not named, and
were not made parties to the suit. Petitioner requested the court
to interpret the contracts, declare the rights of the parties,
compel respondent to make an accounting (and name the employees
involved and the amounts of unpaid salaries), and enter a judgment
against respondent and in favor of the individual employees for the
Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint on three grounds: the
court lacked jurisdiction over the subject matter, petitioner was
the wrong party plaintiff under
Page 348 U. S. 440
Fed.Rules Civ.Proc. 17(a), and the complaint failed to state a
claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court held
that it had jurisdiction over the subject matter and that
petitioner was a proper plaintiff, but dismissed the complaint for
failure to state a claim for relief, without prejudice to
petitioner's right to amend. It held that, without affirmative
averments as to the cause of the absences from work, it must be
assumed the absences were voluntary, and that the bargaining
contracts did not obligate respondent to pay wages during voluntary
absences. 107 F. Supp. 692.
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, sitting en banc,
three judges dissenting, vacated the district court's order
dismissing the complaint on the merits and directed a dismissal for
lack of jurisdiction. After stating that § 301 "is a grant of
federal question jurisdiction, and thus creates a federal,
substantive right" and reviewing various theories explaining the
relationship between union, employer, and employees under a
collective bargaining agreement, the court adopted an "eclectic
theory," based primarily upon language in J.I. Case Co. v.
Labor Board, 321 U. S. 332
bargaining contract, said the Court, obligates the employer to
include in the contracts of hire with each employee the terms and
conditions which had been settled between the union and the
employer, but the collective contract itself is not a contract of
hire. Not until an employee enters into an individual contract of
hire and performs services does the employer become bound to pay
the particular employee the specified wages. It follows, said the
Court, that, if there was a breach in this case, it was a breach of
the employment contracts with the individual employees who were not
paid. Section 301, on the other hand, grants jurisdiction to
federal courts only over cases involving breaches of the collective
bargaining contract between the union and the employer.
Page 348 U. S. 441
it was concluded, the district court was without jurisdiction of
the suit. 210 F.2d 623.
The dissenting judges agreed that a failure to pay wages might
well constitute a breach of the individual hiring contracts as a
basis of common law suits by the employees. But they deemed the
breach, if any, also a breach of the collective bargaining
contracts, and, as such, cognizable in the federal court under §
301. They concluded that Rule 17(a) permitted the union to sue
alone, without joinder of the employees, to vindicate the rights of
these employees as a class, such employees being beneficiaries of
the collective contracts. They agreed with the district court,
however, that, on this complaint, the bargaining contracts did not
make respondent liable, since the cause of the absences from work
was not alleged. 210 F.2d at 630.
The case was brought here for construction of a section of the
Taft-Hartley Act which has proved a fertile source of difficulty
for the lower courts. 347 U.S. 1010.
1. In dealing with an enactment such as § 301 of the Labor
Management Relations Act, [Footnote
] it is necessary first
Page 348 U. S. 442
to ascertain its jurisdictional scope, more particularly,
whether it extends to the suit at hand. Here, as may not
infrequently be the case, this question turns in large measure on
what sources a federal court would be required to draw upon in
determining the underlying substantive rights of the parties -- in
this case, in deciding whether the union has the contract right
which it asserts. If Congress has itself defined the law or
authorized the federal courts to fashion the judicial rules
governing this question, it would be self-defeating to limit the
scope of the power of the federal courts to less than is necessary
to accomplish this congressional aim. If, on the other hand,
Congress merely furnished a federal forum for enforcing the body of
contract law which the States provide, a serious constitutional
problem would lie at the threshold of jurisdiction. Moreover, if
the function of § 301 is merely that of providing a federal forum
for state law, there are good reasons for finding that, despite the
broad wording of § 301, Congress did not intend to confer
jurisdiction over this type of suit.
Page 348 U. S. 443
If the section is given the meaning its language spontaneously
yields, it would seem clear that all it does is to give procedural
directions to the federal courts.
"When an unincorporated association that happens to be a labor
union appears before you as a litigant in a case involving breach
of a collective agreement,"
Congress in effect told the district judges,
"treat is as though it were a natural or corporate legal person,
and do so regardless of the amount in controversy and do not
require diversity of citizenship."
Since a statute like the Taft-Hartley Act is an organism, § 301
must be placed in the context of the legislation as a whole. So
viewed, however, the meaning which the section by itself affords is
not affected. While some sections of the Act in certain instances
may be relevant in actions for breach of contract, and, as such,
binding also on the States, [Footnote 2
] no provision suggests general application
Page 348 U. S. 444
defined or theretofore available federal substantive law in
actions arising under § 301.
This examination would conclude the construction of the section
by English courts -- that is, by any court reading legislation as
it is written without drawing on parliamentary debates. And
considering that the construction we have found seems plain, the
so-called "plain meaning rule," on which construction is from time
to time rested also in this Court, likewise makes further inquiry
needless, and indeed improper. But that rule has not dominated our
decisions. The contrary doctrine has prevailed. See Boston Sand
& Gravel Co. v. United States, 278 U. S.
, 278 U. S. 48
United States v. Dickerson, 310 U.
, 310 U. S. 561
And so we proceed to an examination of the legislative history to
see whether that raises such doubts that the search for meaning
should not be limited to the statute itself.
Congressional concern with obstacles surrounding union
litigation began to manifest itself as early as 1943. In the first
session of the 78th Congress and thereafter, numerous bills were
introduced proposing various solutions, including federal
incorporation, [Footnote 3
denial of rights under the Wagner Act to contract violators,
] creation of a
cause of action for strikes and other acts in violation of the
collective bargaining contract, [Footnote 5
] and grants of federal jurisdiction
Page 348 U. S. 445
similar to the present § 301. [Footnote 6
] Only one of these, the so-called "Case bill,"
was acted upon. This bill, which passed both Houses in 1946, only
to fail through President Truman's veto, included as § 10 a
provision somewhat similar to the present section. That section
passed the House in the following form:
"SEC. 10. BINDING EFFECT OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING CONTRACTS. --
All collective bargaining contracts shall be mutually and equally
binding and enforceable against each of the parties thereto, any
other law to the contrary notwithstanding. In the event of a breach
of any such contract or of any agreement contained in such contract
by either party thereto, then, in addition to any other remedy or
remedies existing, a suit for damages for such breach may be
maintained by the other party or parties in any State or United
States district court having jurisdiction of the parties."
H.R. 4908, 79th Cong., 2d Sess.
Discussion in that chamber was not enlightening, due perhaps to
the fact that the Case bill had been substituted on the House floor
for the text of a very different bill, and thus had never been
considered in committee. Section 10 was presented as necessary to
achievement of "mutuality" of obligation between employer and
union, but there was no guiding explanation of the nature of the
obstacle to mutuality. The language of the section, however, gave
support to the view that a federal cause of action was to be
After the bill passed the House, hearings were held on it by the
Senate Committee on Education and Labor, during which Senator Taft
pointed out to Representative Case that, in his view, the section
as written failed to deal
Page 348 U. S. 446
with the real problem, which was not substantive enforceability,
but procedural difficulty in obtaining jurisdiction over
unincorporated labor organizations. Mr. Case agreed that the
section should be redrafted to reach that problem. [Footnote 7
] The Committee reported the bill
without § 10, asserting that, as it passed the House, the section
was "based upon a misapprehension as to the legal responsibility of
the parties under such contracts," that such contracts "are at
present legally enforceable in the courts," and that to promote
litigation concerning them would be undesirable. [Footnote 8
] Senators Ball, Taft, and H.
Alexander Smith filed a minority report conceding that collective
agreements "theoretically are legally enforceable contracts," but
contending that action was necessary to overcome practical
obstacles to enforcement arising from the status of unions as
unincorporated associations. They proposed a differently worded
section, later adopted in substance by both Houses, which closely
approximated the wording of the present § 301. [Footnote 9
Page 348 U. S. 447
In introducing this proposed amendment, Senator Taft stated:
". . . All we provide in the amendment is that voluntary
associations shall, in effect, be suable as if they were
corporations, and suable in the Federal courts if the contract
involves interstate commerce, and therefore involves a Federal
question. . . ."
92 Cong.Rec. 5705.
This rather casual non sequitur
seems to suggest
reliance not on the existence or establishment of any substantive
federal law governing collective bargaining contracts to create a
"federal question" in the technical sense relevant to jurisdiction
of district courts, but on the mere power of Congress to enact such
law. [Footnote 10
some statements on the Senate floor by opponents of the amendment
are ambiguous, [Footnote 11
all authoritative materials indicate the strictly procedural aim of
the section. The aim was to open the federal courts to suits on
agreements solely because they were between labor organizations and
employers, without providing federal law for such suits.
In the first session of the 80th Congress, bills introduced
independently in both Houses contained sections strikingly similar
to the final version of § 10 of the Case
Page 348 U. S. 448
bill. [Footnote 12
Discussion was more analytical. While generalities in praise of
mutuality and enforceability reappear, it was evident that the
specific desire was to remove procedural obstacles to suit by and
against the union. Senator Pepper and Secretary of Labor
Schwellenbach deemed the measure one "to provide a Federal forum"
for suits on contracts based on local law. [Footnote 13
] It was assumed that this would
result in mutual enforceability, which, in turn, would further
labor harmony. The testimony of Secretary Schwellenbach (who,
together with the labor unions, opposed § 301), minority reports in
both Houses, [Footnote 14
and opposition statements on the floor of the Senate [Footnote 15
Page 348 U. S. 449
attention to the fact that state law would govern actions under
§ 301, and that this, diversity jurisdiction apart, would raise a
substantial constitutional question. No denial of the first of
these assertions appears. Senator Taft did not justify § 301 as
dependent on federal substantive law governing interpretation of
collective bargaining contracts:
"Mr. President, title III of the bill . . . makes unions suable
in the Federal courts for violation of contract. As a matter of
law, unions, of course, are liable in theory on their contracts
today, but, as a practical matter, it is difficult to sue them.
They are not incorporated; they have many members; in some States,
all the members must be served; it is difficult to know who is to
be served. But the pending bill provides they can be sued as if
they were corporations, and, if a judgment is found against the
labor organization, even though it is an unincorporated
association, the liability is on the labor union and the labor
union funds, and it is not on the individual members of the union,
where it has fallen in some famous cases, to the great financial
distress of the individual members of labor unions."
93 Cong.Rec. 3839.
Legislative history, in its relevant aspects, thus reinforces
the meaning conveyed by the statute itself as a mere procedural
2. From this conclusion inevitably emerge questions regarding
the constitutionality of a grant of jurisdiction to federal courts
over a contract governed entirely by state substantive law, a
jurisdiction not based on diversity of citizenship, yet one in
which a federal court would, as in diversity cases, administer the
law of the State in which it sits. The scope of allowable federal
judicial power that this grant must satisfy is constitutionally
Page 348 U. S. 450
"Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the
Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be
made, under their Authority."
Art. III, § 2.
Almost without exception, decisions under the general statutory
grants of jurisdiction, strikingly similar to the constitutional
wording, have tested jurisdiction in terms of the presence, as an
integral part of plaintiff's cause of action, of an issue calling
for interpretation or application of federal law. [Footnote 16
] Although it has sometimes been
suggested that the "cause of action" must derive from federal law,
] it has been
found sufficient that some aspect of federal law is essential to
plaintiff's success. [Footnote
] The litigation-provoking problem has been the degree to
which federal law must be in the forefront of the case and not be
remote, collateral, or peripheral.
It has generally been assumed that the full constitutional power
has not been exhausted by these general jurisdictional statutes.
] And, in two
lines of decision, under special jurisdictional grants for actions
by or against federally incorporated organizations [Footnote 20
] and trustees in bankruptcy,
jurisdiction has been sustained despite the fact that the
traditional "federal question" theory of jurisdiction has
considerable latitude if satisfied by the
Page 348 U. S. 451
contingent likelihood of presentation of a federal question.
Analysis of these cases in terms of that theory reveals analogies
to § 301. For federal law is, in certain respects, in the
background of any action on a collective bargaining agreement
affecting commerce: § 301 vests rights and liabilities, which under
state law are distributed among the union members, in a legal
"entity" recognized by federal law for purposes of actions on
collective bargaining agreements in the federal courts; in such
actions, the validity of the agreement may be challenged on federal
grounds -- that the labor organization negotiating it was not the
representative of the employees involved, or that subsequent
changes in the representative status of the union have affected the
continued validity of the agreement. [Footnote 22
Federal jurisdiction based solely on the fact of federal
incorporation has, however, been severely restricted by Congress,
] and this Court
has cast doubt on its continued vitality. [Footnote 24
] Whether the precedent might be
extended to meet the substantial difficulties encountered under §
301 would pose a serious constitutional problem.
Recognition of jurisdiction in the bankruptcy cases, despite the
fact that the actions might be governed solely by state law, draws
on the reach of the bankruptcy power, which may reasonably be
deemed to sweep within its scope interests sufficiently related to
the main purpose of bankruptcy to call for organic treatment. To
attempt to reason from these cases to § 301 raises the equally, if
not more serious, question of what, if anything, is encompassed
Page 348 U. S. 452
in jurisdiction over cases "arising under the laws of the United
States" beyond that which traditional "federal question" theory
3. In an effort to avoid these problems, lower federal courts
have given discordant answers. Most have ascribed to § 301 the
creation of "substantive federal rights" or the subjection of
collective agreements to a body of federal common law. [Footnote 26
] We must, of course,
Page 348 U. S. 453
defer to the strong presumption -- even as to such technical
matters as federal jurisdiction -- that Congress legislated in
accordance with the Constitution. Legislation must, if possible, be
given a meaning that will enable it to survive. This rule of
constitutional adjudication is normally invoked to narrow what
would otherwise be the natural but constitutionally dubious scope
of the language. E.g., United States v. Delaware & Hudson
Co., 213 U. S. 366
United States v. Rumely, 345 U. S. 41
the endeavor of lower courts has resulted in adding to the section
substantive congressional regulation, even though Congress saw fit
not to exercise such power, nor to give the courts any concrete
guidance for defining such regulation.
To be sure, the full scope of a substantive regulation is
frequently in dispute, and must await authoritative determination
by courts. Congress declares its purpose imperfectly or partially,
and the judiciary rounds it out compatibly. But, in this case, we
start with a provision which is wholly jurisdictional, and, as
such, bristles with constitutional
Page 348 U. S. 454
problems under Article III. To avoid them, interpolation of
substantive regulation has been proposed. From what materials are
we to draw a determination that § 301 is something other than what
it clearly appears to be? The problem is particularly vexing in
view of the very difficult choice of policy that the alternatives
of state or federal law present and the uncertainty as to the
consequences of the choice. Is the Court justified in creating all
these difficult problems of choice in matters of delicate
legislative policy without any direction from Congress, and merely
for the sake of giving effect to a provision which seems to deal
with a different subject? How far are courts to go in reshaping or
transforming the obvious design of Congress in order to achieve
validity for something Congress has not fashioned? In the words of
Mr. Justice Cardozo, speaking for the whole Court:
"We think the light is so strong as to flood whatever places in
the statute might otherwise be dark. Courts have striven mightily
at times to canalize construction along the path of safety. . . .
When a statute is reasonably susceptible of two interpretations,
they have preferred the meaning that preserves to the meaning that
destroys. . . . 'But avoidance of a difficulty will not be pressed
to the point of disingenuous evasion.' . . . 'Here, the intention
of the Congress is revealed too distinctly to permit us to ignore
it because of mere misgivings as to power.'"
Hopkins Federal Savings & Loan Assn. v. Cleary,
296 U. S. 315
296 U. S.
But, assuming that we would be justified in proceeding further,
the suggestion that the section permits the federal courts to work
out, without more, a federal code governing collective bargaining
contracts does not free us from difficulties.
Such a task would involve the federal courts in multiplying
problems which could not be solved without disclosing that Congress
never intended to raise them.
Page 348 U. S. 455
Application of a body of federal common law would inevitably
lead to one of the following incongruities: (1) conflict in federal
and state court interpretations of collective bargaining
agreements; (2) displacement of state law by federal law in state
courts, not only in actions between union and employer, but in all
actions regarding collective bargaining agreements; or (3)
exclusion of state court jurisdiction over these matters. It would
also be necessary to work out a federal code governing the
interrelationship between the employee's rights and whatever rights
were found to exist in the union. Moreover, if the general
unfolding of such broad application of federal law were designed,
the procedural objectives of Congress would have been accomplished
without the need of any special jurisdictional statute. Federal
rights would be in issue, and, under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and Federal
Rule 17(b), the suit could be brought in any district court by or
against the union as an entity. The only effect of § 301 would then
be to dispense with the requirement of amount in controversy and to
adopt certain other minor procedural rules.
It has been suggested that a more modest role might be assigned
to federal law. The suggestion is that, in view of the difficulties
which originally plagued the courts called upon to identify the
nature of the legal relations created by a collective contract,
] and in view of
Page 348 U. S. 456
statements in the legislative history of § 301 in favor of
enforceability of collective agreements, § 301 may be viewed as a
congressional authorization to the federal courts to work out a
concept of the nature of the collective bargaining contract,
leaving detailed questions of interpretation to state law.
This is an excessively sophisticated attribution to Congress.
Evidence is wholly wanting that Congress was aware of the diverse
views taken of the collective bargaining agreement or, in any
event, that they were interfering with any federal objective.
Moreover, once the right of the union to enter into contracts is
granted by state law, these problems are really questions of
interpretation of the language of ambiguously drawn contracts. If
federal law undertook to resolve these ambiguities, it would become
inextricably involved in questions of interpretation of the
language of contracts. Discrepancies between federal and state
court treatment, while not so inevitable as where federal law
undertook the entire task of interpretation, would result. And any
difference between state and federal theories of enforceability
would present opportunities for forum-shopping.
To turn § 301 into an agency for working out a viable theory of
the nature of a collective bargaining agreement smacks of
unreality. Nor does it seem reasonable to view that section as a
delivery into the discretionary hands of the federal judiciary,
finally of this Court, of such an important, complicated and subtle
field. These difficulties may be illustrated by a discussion of the
holding of the Court of Appeals in the present case. Its "eclectic
theory" of the nature of a collective agreement has no support in
the statute, and, on the contrary, it is in some ways repugnant to
it. (1) For example, the National Labor Relations Act seeks in §
9(a) to preserve the "right" of an individual employee to take up
grievances with his employer; but no one has ever suggested
Page 348 U. S. 457
that these grievances may not be taken up by the union. (2) It
excludes from the court stage the party that is recognized in the
required preliminary stages. The union that is empowered to
negotiate and settle the controversy before suit is barred from
bringing suit when settlement is not reached. (3) This would tend
to impair the union's power to negotiate a mutually satisfactory
settlement. As a practical matter, the employees expect their union
not just to secure a collective agreement, but, more particularly,
to procure for the individual employees the benefits promised. If
the union can secure only the promise, and is impotent to procure
for the individual employees the promised benefits, then it is
bound to lose their support. And if the union cannot ultimately
resort to suit, it is encouraged to resort to strike action.
Perhaps the prime example of an individual cause of action, as
distinguished from a union cause, under the Court of Appeals'
"eclectic theory" would be the case of the discharge of a single
employee. To make the situation vivid, assume that there is no
dispute whatever as to the propriety of the alleged ground for the
discharge, and that the only matter in controversy is the question
of fact whether the employee did or did not commit the offense
alleged. Yet precisely such incidents often pull the trigger of
work stoppages. When stoppages do occur, they most frequently
involve a grievance with respect to one employee or a few employees
much smaller in number than those involved in the stoppage. That
such stoppages are wildcat and officially unauthorized merely
emphasizes the fact of group interest in the incident. It is a
matter of industrial history that stoppages of work because of
disciplinary penalties against individuals, or because of failure
to pay the rates claimed, or because of the promotion or layoff of
one employee rather than another, or for similar reasons, have been
frequent occurrences. A legal rule denying standing to the union
Page 348 U. S. 458
protect individual rights under what is to be deemed a contract
with individuals would encourage such indiscipline. And this is
true even though the ultimately desirable social policy is to make
it a matter of industrial habit to rely for a remedy for such
grievances not on stoppage of work or on lawsuits, but on the
grievance procedure within an industry. There is, in fact, a strong
group interest in procuring for the employee the benefit promised,
as well as the promise in the collective agreement. If the union
can represent and press that group interest, the stoppage may be
avoided; if it cannot, the group resorts to wildcat self-help. The
holding below cannot eliminate this group interest; it can
stimulate its manifestation by way of a strike.
Is the line which the Court of Appeals has drawn the result of
interpretation of the particular contract, or of a rule of law
beyond the power of the parties to alter? If it is the former, then
the line can be obliterated by express language in the contract,
and the unions can be trusted to find suitable language. They were
quick to secure amendment to their constitutions or statutes in
order to avoid the decision of this Court in Elgin, Joliet
& Eastern Ry. Co. v. Burley, 325 U.
, 327 U. S. 327
661. [Footnote 28
] If it is
the latter, what is the basis for the rule? It is not to be found
in fear that the employee
Page 348 U. S. 459
may not be able to sue. To hold that the union may sue, it is
not necessary to hold that the employee may not sue in any forum,
and vice versa. At least when the union and the employee are in
agreement, there is no reason why either or both should not be
permitted to sue. Such is the situation under § 9(a) of the
National Labor Relations Act with respect to the adjustment of
grievances without suit. When the employee and the union are in
disagreement, the question is not which may sue, but, rather, the
extent to which the one may conclude the other.
Speculative reflection reveals other possible substantive
additions which might be made to § 301. When tested against the
limitations which must restrict judicial elaboration of
legislation, however, all meritorious possibilities are either too
specialized to reach this case or too insignificant an addition to
dissipate the constitutional doubts which have revealed
4. In the present case, however, serious constitutional problems
may be avoided, and indeed must be, through the orthodox process of
limiting the scope of doubtful legislation. We cannot adopt the
reasoning of the Court of Appeals in reaching our conclusion that §
301 does not extend jurisdiction to the present case. That court
relied upon an assumed federal concept of the nature of a
collective bargaining agreement which is not justified either in
terms of discoverable congressional intent or considerations
relevant to the function of the collective agreement in the field
of labor relations. The same objections do not, however, prevail
against the view that, whether or not the applicable substantive
law -- in our view, state law -- would recognize a right in the
union, Congress did not intent to burden the federal courts with
suits of this type.
Considering the nature of a collective bargaining contract,
which involves the correlative rights of employer,
Page 348 U. S. 460
employee and union, we might be disposed to read § 301 as
allowing the union to sue in this case. With due regard to the
constitutional difficulties which would be raised, and in view of
the fact that such an interpretation would bring to the federal
courts an extensive range of litigation heretofore entertained by
the States, we conclude that Congress did not will this result.
There was no suggestion that Congress, at a time when its attention
was directed to congestion in the federal courts, particularly in
the heavy industrial areas, intended to open the doors of the
federal courts to a potential flood of grievances based upon an
employer's failure to comply with terms of a collective agreement
relating to compensation, terms peculiar in the individual benefit
which is their subject matter and which, when violated, give a
cause of action to the individual employee. The employees have
always been able to enforce their individual rights in the state
courts. [Footnote 29
have not been hampered by the
Page 348 U. S. 461
rules governing unincorporated associations. To this extent, the
collective bargaining contract has always been "enforceable."
Nowhere in the legislative history did Congress discuss or show
any recognition of the type of suit involved here, in which the
union is suing on behalf of employees for accrued wages. Therefore,
we conclude that Congress did not confer on the federal courts
jurisdiction over a suit such as this one.
MR. JUSTICE HARLAN took no part in the consideration or decision
of this case.
Section 301 provides:
"SEC. 301. (a) Suits for violation of contracts between an
employer and a labor organization representing employees in an
industry affecting commerce as defined in this Act, or between any
such labor organizations, may be brought in any district court of
the United States having jurisdiction of the parties, without
respect to the amount in controversy or without regard to the
citizenship of the parties."
"(b) Any labor organization which represents employees in an
industry affecting commerce as defined in this Act and any employer
whose activities affect commerce as defined in this Act shall be
bound by the acts of its agents. Any such labor organization may
sue or be sued as an entity and in behalf of the employees whom it
represents in the courts of the United States. Any money judgment
against a labor organization in a district court of the United
States shall be enforceable only against the organization as an
entity and against its assets, and shall not be enforceable against
any individual member or his assets."
"(c) For the purposes of actions and proceedings by or against
labor organizations in the district courts of the United States,
district courts shall be deemed to have jurisdiction of a labor
organization (1) in the district in which such organization
maintains its principal office, or (2) in any district in which its
duly authorized officers or agents are engaged in representing or
acting for employee members."
"(d) The service of summons, subpoena, or other legal process of
any court of the United States upon an officer or agent of a labor
organization, in his capacity as such, shall constitute service
upon the labor organization."
"(e) For the purposes of this section, in determining whether
any person is acting as an 'agent' of another person so as to make
such other person responsible for his acts, the question of whether
the specific acts performed were actually authorized or
subsequently ratified shall not be controlling."
Section 1 of the Act states the congressional aim to be the
enumeration of "legitimate rights" of employers and employees and
the definition of practices to be outlawed in the interest of
furthering industrial peace. No inference pertinent to the
jurisdictional content of § 301 can be drawn from this introductory
generalization. No other provision of the Act indicates that
substantive federal law was to guide the determination of the
contractual rights and liabilities that are to flow from a
collective bargaining contract. Section 302 contains a highly
specialized restriction on the legality of employers' agreements to
make payments to employee representatives. Section 303 provides a
federal right to recover damages suffered as a result of improper
boycotts. Section 8 enumerates unfair labor practices; these may in
some instances become relevant to the validity or interpretation of
a collective agreement. Certain procedural safeguards are placed
about the collective bargaining agreement: an obligation to confer
in good faith on questions arising under it; a duty to follow
certain steps prior to terminating or modifying the agreement
unilaterally. §§ 8(d), 204(a)(2). And a limited number of
substantive rights conferred under the Act may incidentally involve
the interpretation of the collective agreement. E.g.,
9(a). It is significant, however, that breach of contract is not an
"unfair labor practice." A proposal to that end was contained in
the Senate bill, but was deleted in conference with the
"Once parties have made a collective bargaining contract, the
enforcement of that contract should be left to the usual processes
of the law, and not to the Labor Board."
H.R.Conf.Rep.No.510, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 42. The Act expressly
defers to state law on the question of legality of the union shop
provision. §§ 8(a)(3), 14(b).
H.R. 1781, 78th Cong., 1st Sess.; H.R. 4960, 79th Cong., 1st
Sess.; S. 2488, S.J.Res. 133; H.J.Res. 318, 79th Cong., 2d Sess.;
S.J.Res. 8; H.J.Res. 43, 80th Cong., 1st Sess.
S. 1641, 79th Cong., 1st Sess.
S. 1656, 79th Cong., 1st Sess.; S. 123; H.R. 267, 1430, 80th
Cong., 1st Sess.
S. 55, 404; H.R. 725, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. Under S. 937, 80th
Cong., 1st Sess., a system of federal labor courts to hear all
cases arising out of collective bargaining contracts would have
Hearings before a Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on
Education and Labor on H.R. 4908, 79th Cong., 2d Sess. 11.
S.Rep.No.1177, 79th Cong., 2d Sess. 8.
Part 2 at 3-4, 10-14. The section which they
proposed was as follows:
"SEC. ___. (a) Suits for violation of a contract concluded as
the result of collective bargaining between an employer and a labor
organization if such contract affects commerce as defined in this
Act may be brought in any district court of the United States
having jurisdiction of the parties."
"(b) Any labor organization whose activities affect commerce as
defined in this Act shall be bound by the acts of its duly
authorized agents acting within the scope of their authority from
the said labor organization and may sue or be sued as an entity and
in behalf of the employees whom it represents in the courts of the
United States: Provided,
That any money judgment against
such labor organization shall be enforceable only against the
organization as an entity and against its assets, and shall not be
enforceable against any individual member or his assets."
During the hearings on the Taft-Hartley bill, Senator Taft
suggested that the fact that the collective bargaining agreement
was the product of the exercise of federally created rights and
duties was an adequate justification for federal jurisdiction.
Hearings before Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, on S.
55 and S.J.Res. 22, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 57.
the statements of Senators Murray and Magnuson
which seemed to suggest that § 10 would create "Federal rights." 92
Cong.Rec. 5708, 5720, 5411-5415. Senator Murray, however, appears
to have been thinking only of the procedural and jurisdictional
rights admittedly conferred by § 10. Senator Magnuson spoke before
Senator Taft introduced the amendment containing § 10, and may not
have understood that it differed considerably from the House
H.R. 3020, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. § 302; S. 1126, 80th Cong., 1st
Sess. § 301.
Hearings before Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare on
S. 55 and S.J.Res. 22, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 58. During these
hearings, Secretary Schwellenbach stated:
"Since the field of necessary legislative action is so narrow, I
see no reason why the gates of the Federal courts should be opened
so wide as to invite litigation, as is done by this proposed
section. Speaking as a lawyer and former member of the Federal
judiciary, I have an objection to the abandonment in this field of
the requirement of the $3,000 amount in controversy as a
prerequisite to Federal jurisdiction. This is a right which has
been jealously guarded by the Congress and by the Federal courts.
To have them cluttered up with a great mass of petty litigation
involving amounts less than $3,000 would bring them back to the
position which they occupied during prohibition days, when they
became just a little bit above the level of the average police
court insofar as criminal work was concerned."
"I do not see why it is necessary in this field to abandon the
diversity of citizenship requirement. In fact, I doubt that it can
be abandoned constitutionally. The Constitution, as you know,
limits suits in the Federal courts to cases arising under the
Constitution and the laws of the United States or involving
diversity of citizenship."
H.Rep.No.245, 80th Cong., 1st Sess. 108-110; S.Rep.No.105, 80th
Cong., 1st Sess., Part 2, 13-15.
93 Cong.Rec. 4033, 4906 (Senator Murray); id.
E.g., Gully v. First Nat. Bank in Meridian,
299 U. S. 109
See American Well Works Co. v. Layne & Bowler Co.,
241 U. S. 257
241 U. S.
Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust Co.,
255 U. S. 180
Mishkin, The Federal "Question" in the
District Courts, 53 Col.L.Rev. 157, 160; Shulman and Jaegerman,
Some Jurisdictional Limitations on Federal Procedure, 45 Yale L.J.
393, 405, n. 47; Wechsler, Federal Jurisdiction and the Revision of
the Judicial Code, 13 Law & Contemp.Prob. 216, 225.
Osborn v. Bank of the United
9 Wheat. 738; Pacific Railroad Removal
Cases, 115 U. S. 1
Schumacher v. Beeler, 293 U. S. 367
Williams v. Austrian, 331 U. S. 642
Cf. LaCross Telephone Corp. v. Wisconsin Employment
Relations Board, 336 U. S. 18
62 Stat. 934, 28 U.S.C. § 1349:
"The district courts shall not have jurisdiction of any civil
action by or against any corporation upon the ground that it was
incorporated by or under an Act of Congress unless the United
States is the owner of more than one-half of its capital
See Gully v. First Nat. Bank in Meridian, 299 U.
, 299 U. S.
For some of the views advanced concerning the power of Congress
to confer jurisdiction despite the absence of any "federal
question" in the traditional sense, see National Mutual Ins.
Co. v. Tidewater Transfer Co., 337 U.
, 337 U. S. 600
Textile Workers Union v. American Thread
Co., 113 F.
; Hart and Wechsler, The Federal Courts and the
Federal System, 744-747; Wechsler, Federal Jurisdiction and the
Revision of the Judicial Code, 13 Law & Contempt.Prob. 216,
224; Mishkin, The Federal "Question" in the District Courts, 53
Col.L.Rev. 157, 184.
At least one federal court has held that state law is to be
applied, perhaps on the theory of federal incorporation of state
law as federal law. Insurance Agents' International Union v.
Prudential Ins. Co., 122 F.
; see Textile Workers Union v. American Thread
Co., 113 F.
, 140 (suggestion of such a possibility). Cf.
International Woodworkers v. McCloud River Lumber
Co., 119 F.
(state law applied where jurisdiction was based on
diversity as well as § 301); Isbrandtsen Co. v. Local
107 F. Supp. 72, aff'd,
204 F.2d 495 (diversity
again present; on appeal, federal and state law found to be the
same and question of applicable law avoided); John Hancock
Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. United Office & Professional
Workers, 93 F. Supp.
(removal to federal court denied on ground that, even if §
301 gives federal rights, the complaints were framed with reference
solely to state law).
Most federal courts, however, hold that § 301 created federal
substantive rights and, when called upon to choose between state
and federal law, apply the latter. E.g., United Electrical,
Radio & Machine Workers v. Oliver Corp.,
205 F.2d 376;
Milk and Ice Cream Drivers and Dairy Employees Union v.
Gillespie Milk Products Corp.,
203 F.2d 650;
Shirley-Herman Co. v. International Hod Carriers Union,
182 F.2d 806; International Plainfield Motor Co. v. Local
Union, 123 F.
; Waialua Agr. Co. v. United Sugar
Workers, 114 F.
; Ludlow Mfg. & Sales Co. v. Textile Workers
Union, 108 F. Supp.
; Pepper & Potter, Inc. v. Local
977, 103 F.
; Fay v. American Cytoscope Makers,
Inc., 98 F. Supp.
; Textile Workers Union v. Aleo Mfg.
Co., 94 F. Supp.
; Wilson & Co. v. United Packinghouse
Workers, 83 F. Supp.
; Colonial Hardwood Flooring Co. v. International
Union, 76 F. Supp.
168 F.2d 33; International Union v.
Dahlem Const. Co.,
193 F.2d 470 (semble
Rock Drilling, Local Union No. 17 v. Mason & Hanger Co.,
217 F.2d 687, 691; Schatte v. International Alliance,
F.2d 158, 164. Cf. Textile Workers Union v. Arista Mills
193 F.2d 529 (refusal to pass on whether substantive
federal rights created; federal law apparently viewed as applicable
to issue raised in any event).
At least two courts have drawn a distinction between the law to
be applied to matters of "substantive right" and "remedy."
Hamilton Foundry & Machine Co. v. International Molders
193 F.2d 209 (federal rights created but state statute
of frauds applied); Textile Workers Union v. American Thread
Co., 113 F.
(whether or not federal law applies to other matters,
federal law regarding enforcement of arbitration clauses
The collective agreement was variously viewed as: (1) the mere
formulation of usage or custom relevant to the interpretation of
the individual employment contract; (2) a contract between the
employer and the individual member employees, negotiated by the
union as the employees' agent; (3) a contract between the union and
employer for the benefit of the individual employees; and, (4) as
held by the court below, a contract between the union and employer
giving the union certain rights, including the right to insist that
the employer contract with his employees consistently with the
terms of the agreement, but giving the union no right to enforce
obligations running to individuals under their contracts of
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers amended their Standing
Rules to provide for automatic consent of all members to the
Brotherhood's prosecution of grievances at their Tenth Triennial
Convention in March and April, 1947. The Brotherhood of Locomotive
Firemen and Enginemen added a similar provision to their
Constitution at their 35th Convention in 1947. The Order of Railway
Conductors and Brakemen amended their "statute" in a similar
fashion in 1946. The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, at their
1946 Convention, adopted a new General Rule which empowered the
Brotherhood to prosecute grievances "Except in individual cases
where the member or members involved serve seasonable written
notice on the Brotherhood to the contrary."
For examples of such suits by employees in state courts prior to
1947, when the Taft-Hartley Act was passed, see Gulla v.
164 App.Div. 293, 149 N.Y.S. 952; H. Blum &
Co. v. Landau,
23 Ohio App. 426, 155 N.E. 154; Mastell v.
140 Ark. 408, 215 S.W. 583; McGregor v. Louisville
& N. R. Co.,
244 Ky. 696, 51 S.W.2d 953; O'Jay Spread
Co. v. Hicks,
185 Ga. 507, 195 S.E. 564 (class suit);
Rentschler v. Missouri Pac. R. Co.,
126 Neb. 493, 253 N.W.
694; Volquardsen v. Southern Amusement Co.,
So. 678; Yazoo & M.V. R. Co. v. Sideboard,
4, 133 So. 669; Cross Mountain Coal Co. v. Ault,
461, 9 S.W.2d 692; and Hall v. St. Louis-San Francisco R.
224 Mo.App. 431, 28 S.W.2d 687. See also Moore v.
Illinois Central R. Co., 312 U. S. 630
J. I. Case Co. v. Labor Board, 321 U.
, 321 U. S. 336
I Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective Bargaining (1940, 1947
Cum.Supp.) §§ 166-168; II Williston, Contracts (rev. ed. 1936), §
And such suits are still being entertained. E.g., Dufour v.
Continental Southern Lines, Inc., 68 So. 2d
; Donahoo v. Thompson,
270 S.W.2d 104;
Marranzano v. Riggs Nat. Bank,
87 U.S.App.D.C. 195, 184
F.2d 349; MacKay v. Loew's, Inc.,
182 F.2d 170 (diversity
case); II Williston, Contracts, § 379A (1954 Cum.Supp.).
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN, with whom MR. JUSTICE CLARK joins,
We agree with the decision, but not with all that is said in the
opinion. The only question we see here is one of statutory
interpretation. For us, 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. Thus viewed, it becomes unnecessary for us either to make
labor policy or to raise constitutional issues.
MR. JUSTICE REED, concurring.
My analysis of this case leads me to concur on grounds stated
later without the extensive comment and broad treatment given by
the opinion of MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER.
What is there said as to the substantive law to be applied in §
301 actions will be pertinent in cases which are deemed to have
been properly brought under that section -- that is, where there is
set forth the
Page 348 U. S. 462
violation of a collective bargaining agreement based on the
failure of either the employer or the union to carry out its
undertakings with the other. It is appropriate, therefore, for me
to state my views as to the law which will be applied in those
actions and in so doing to express my disagreement with the
constitutional doubts raised by the opinion of MR. JUSTICE
Assuming that the purpose of § 301 was to make unions suable as
if corporations, with provisions for venue and service, it also
gave jurisdiction to federal district courts over certain matters
related to interstate commerce, and thus within the legislative
powers of Congress. Labor Board Cases, 301 U. S.
. The Labor Management Relations Act, 1947, is directed
primarily to federal regulation of labor relations affecting
commerce through the means of collective bargaining. While all
contract questions that may arise in § 301 actions are not covered
by the federal statute, the Act furnishes some substantive law
which will be applied in those cases. It sets forth guiding
principles which will bear on contracts made under it, and it also
controls the machinery for reaching those agreements. It points out
many things the parties may or may not do in commerce, just as
other Acts, such as the Interstate Commerce Act do. Thus, the
contracts sued upon in § 301 actions will have been entered into in
accordance with federal law; and although federal law does not set
forth explicitly just what constitutes a breach, § 301, by granting
federal jurisdiction over actions between employers and unions on
collective bargaining contracts, does make breaches of them by
either of those parties actionable. The fact that unions may make
contracts under state law does not bar the Federal Government from
legislation in its field. In case of conflict, federal law
prevails. It is as true in federal laws, as it is in state laws,
that the power to enact gives power to interpret. Jones v.
Prairie Oil & Gas Co., 273 U. S. 195
Page 348 U. S. 463
It may be that, in proper litigation under § 301, it will be
necessary for federal courts to draw largely on state law for the
solution of issues. In such instances, state law is relied upon
because its application is not contrary to federal policy, but
supplements and fulfills it. Board of Comm'rs v. United
States, 308 U. S. 343
308 U. S. 351
It has been held that a suit in equity on a federal right in a
federal court does not necessarily follow a state statute of
limitation. Holmberg v. Armbrecht, 327 U.
. The general rule is that federal interpretation
controls a federal act. Jerome v. United States,
318 U. S. 101
318 U. S.
The fact that a considerable amount of state law may be applied
in suits under § 301 should not affect the validity of the statute.
This Court sustained the jurisdictional grant of § 23, sub. a, of
the Bankruptcy Act, 44 Stat. 664, despite the fact that causes of
action brought thereunder were created and governed solely by state
law. Schumacher v. Beeler, 293 U.
; Williams v. Austrian, 331 U.
. See also Osborn v. Bank of the United
9 Wheat. 738; and Pacific Railroad
Removal Cases, 115 U. S. 1
115 U. S. 11
the Federal Tort Claims Act. Since Congress has
legislative power over labor matters affecting interstate commerce,
it may grant jurisdiction to the federal courts to try incidents of
that activity that raise legal issues, and dictate what law should
be applied. The application of federal law raises no constitutional
problem. If state law is to be applied, it is state law operating
at the direction of, and by the permission of, Congress. State law
is, in effect, incorporated by reference. Since the contract
entered into through provisions of the Labor Act creates rights
over which Congress has legislative authority, a breach of the
contract is likewise within its power. Congress, by § 301, has
manifested its purpose to vest jurisdiction over breaches, to a
certain extent, in the federal courts. Whether the rules of
substantive law applied by the federal courts are derived from
Page 348 U. S. 464
or state sources is immaterial. The rules are truly federal, not
state. The cause of action for breach of contract is thus a cause
of action arising under federal law, the source of federal judicial
power under Art. III of the Constitution.
From the recognition of the power of Congress to regulate
matters affecting commerce in Houston & Texas Ry. Co. v.
(The Shreveport Doctrine), 234 U.
, 234 U. S. 351
(1914), to Labor Board Cases, 301 U. S.
(1937), questions as to the power of Congress over
local incidents of national commerce plagued advocates of legal
changes with doubts as to the constitutional power of Congress to
regulate labor relations effectually. With the full recognition of
the integration of the local with the national, the power to use
national authority in commerce, when needed, was established. I see
no occasion, at this late date, to allow the fog of another day to
obscure the national interest in these problems -- this time by
reason of Article III of the Constitution. Cf.
2 of MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER's opinion.
The reason, I think, that this union cannot recover from the
employer in this suit under § 301 is that the claim for wages for
the employees arises from separate hiring contracts between the
employer and each employee. The union does not undertake to do work
for the employer, or even to furnish workers. The duty, if any
there be, to pay wages to an employee arises from the individual
contract between the employer and employee, not from the collective
bargaining agreement. Therefore, there is set out no violation of a
contract between an employer and a labor organization, as is
required to confer jurisdiction under § 301. The facts show an
alleged violation of a contract between an employer and an employee
-- a situation that is not covered by the statute.
The interpretation contained in the preceding paragraph conforms
to the words of the section, and avoids suggesting
Page 348 U. S. 465
constitutional limitations that would cripple the creation of a
national system for the enforcement of statutes concerning labor
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurs,
I agree with MR. JUSTICE REED that Congress, in the
Taft-Hartley, Act created federal sanctions for collective
bargaining agreements, made the cases and controversies concerning
them justiciable questions for the federal courts, and permitted
those courts to fashion from the federal statute, from state law,
or from other germane sources, federal rules for the construction
and interpretation of those collective bargaining agreements.
My dissent is from the refusal of the majority to allow the
union standing to bring this suit. The complaint alleged that, by
reason of a collective bargaining agreement, the employer was
obligated to pay each employee, whom the union represents, his full
salary during April, 1951, regardless of whether he missed a day's
work, unless the employee's absence was due to "furlough" or "leave
of absence." The complaint further alleged that the employer had
violated the collective bargaining contract by deducting from the
pay of some 4,000 employees their wages for April 3 on account of
their absence, that absence not being a "furlough" or "leave of
absence" within the meaning of the collective bargaining agreement.
The union requested a declaration of rights under the collective
bargaining agreement. Though the employees affected were not
parties to the suit, the complaint prayed for an accounting of the
amount owed each employee and a judgment in favor of the individual
employees for the unpaid wages.
We make mountains out of molehills in not allowing the union to
be the suing as well as the bargaining agency for its members as
respects matters involving the construction
Page 348 U. S. 466
and enforcement of the collective bargaining agreement.
Individual contracts of employment result from each collective
bargaining agreement. But those contracts are the resultant of the
collective bargaining system, a system that continues to function
and operate after the contracts and made. The concept of collective
bargaining contained in the statute, 29 U.S.C. § 159(a), includes,
of course, the negotiation of the collective agreement and the
settling of the terms of the individual contracts. But the
collective bargaining relationship does not end there. To be sure,
the Taft-Hartley Act provides that there shall be no changes in the
provisions of the agreement during its terms, 29 U.S.C. § 158(d).
But that does not mean that the collective bargaining agent drops
out of the picture once the agreement is made. We know enough of
trade union practices to know that the advent of collective
bargaining has produced a permanent, organized relationship between
the union and the employer, involving a day-to-day administration
of the collective agreement. The Act indeed extends the right of
collective bargaining that far. For it specifically provides
". . . to bargain collectively is the performance of the mutual
obligation of the employer and the representative of the employees
to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect
to wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or
the negotiation of an agreement, or any question arising
. . . ,"
61 Stat. 142, 29 U.S.C. § 158(d) (italics added).
The processing of grievances is recognized by the Act as a
function which the labor organization performs or may perform. For
29 U.S.C. § 152(5) defines "labor organization" as an agency which
deals with employers, inter alia, "concerning grievances." As the
Labor Board stated in Hughes Tool Co.,
104 N.L.R.B. 318,
326, "The adjustment of grievances,
Page 348 U. S. 467
viewed in the larger aspect, constitutes, to a great degree, the
actual administration of a collective bargaining contract."
The administration of the collective agreement is its life and
meaning. The adjustment and settlement of grievances, the
development of an administrative practice concerning the collective
agreement, give it force and authority
The right of individual employees to present their own
grievances is recognized by the Act. 29 U.S.C. § 159(a). But, even
when they desire to speak for themselves, rather than through the
union, Congress attached two important conditions. First,
any adjustment of the individual grievance must not be
"inconsistent with the terms of a collective bargaining contract or
agreement then in effect." Second,
the union must be given
"opportunity to be present at such adjustment." Id.
It is plain, I think, that the grievance procedure is a part of
the collective bargaining process. And a lawsuit is one of the
ultimates of a grievance. A lawsuit, like negotiation or
arbitration, resolves the dispute and settles it.
In short, the union represents the interests of the community of
employees in the collective bargaining agreement. The wide range of
its interests are envisaged by the Act, which gives the collective
bargaining agency exclusive authority to bargain "in respect to
rates of pay, wages, hours of employment, or other conditions of
employment." 29 U.S.C. § 159(a). The range of its authority is the
range of its interests. What the union obtains in the collective
agreement it should be entitled to enforce or defend in the forums
which have been provided. When we disallow it that standing, we
fail to keep the law abreast of the industrial developments of this