Labor Law – Arbitration – Restriction of Judicial Intervention Into the Arbitration Process

Respondent company laid off a number of employees as a result of its decision to contract out maintenance work formerly done in the company shop. After the grievance procedure failed to resolve petitioner union’s claim that this violated the contract provision against lockouts, and the company refused the union’s request for arbitration, the union sought specific performance of the promise to arbitrate contained in the collective bargaining contract. In dismissing the plea, the district court found that contracting out work was solely a function of management and therefore not arbitrable because the contract specifically excluded from arbitration “matters which are strictly a function of management.” The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed on the same ground. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed, one Justice dissenting. An order to arbitrate should not be denied unless it may be said with positive assurance that the arbitration clause can not to be interpreted to cover the asserted dispute. United Steelworkers v. Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co., 363 U.S. 574 (1960).