Operating Engineers v. Flair Builders, Inc.
406 U.S. 487 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Operating Engineers v. Flair Builders, Inc., 406 U.S. 487 (1972)

International Union of Operating Engineers,

Local 150, AFL-CIO v. Flair Builders, Inc.,

No. 71-41

Argued April 10, 1972

Decided May 30, 1972

406 U.S. 487


Petitioner union brought an action in June, 1968, seeking damages and injunctive relief for respondent's alleged breach of their collective bargaining agreement, charging that respondent had "continually violated" the contract since June, 1966, by refusing to abide by any of its terms. The agreement provided for arbitration "of any difference . . . which cannot be settled . . . within 48 hours of the occurrence." The District Court held that respondent "was bound by the memorandum agreement to arbitrate labor disputes within the limits of the arbitration clause," but found the union guilty of laches, and dismissed the action. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: As the District Court found, the parties did agree to arbitrate and, the existence and scope of an arbitration clause being matters for judicial decision, the phrase "any difference" encompasses the issue of laches within the broad sweep of its arbitration coverage. Pp. 490-492.

440 F.2d 557, reversed.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which DOUGLAS, STEWART, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., joined, post, p. 406 U. S. 492.

Page 406 U. S. 488

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