AT & T Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers of America

475 U.S. 643 (1986)

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AT & T Technologies, Inc. v. Communications Workers of America

United States Supreme Court
475 U.S. 643 (1986)

Facts

AT & T Technologies, Inc. (AT&T) (plaintiff) was a telephone company whose employees formed a union, Communications Workers of America (the union) (defendant). The parties executed a collective-bargaining agreement that contained the following provisions: Article 8 stated that any differences regarding interpretation of the agreement would be referred to arbitration (the arbitration clause); Article 9 expressly stated that it was not subject to the arbitration clause and provided that AT&T was free to exercise management functions, including hiring and terminations; and Article 20 outlined the order in which AT&T would eliminate employees in the event of a lack of work requiring layoffs. Article 20 made no reference to the arbitration clause. In 1981, AT&T laid off 79 workers from its Chicago location, then transferred approximately 79 workers from other locations to Chicago. The union challenged the decision, contending that AT&T violated Article 20 because there was not a lack of work at the Chicago location, and sought arbitration. AT&T refused, arguing that under Article 9, its decision to lay off workers was not arbitrable. The union filed suit in federal court, and both parties moved for summary judgment. The district court ruled in favor of the union, finding that the union’s argument had more merit and that it was for an arbitrator, rather than a court, to decide whether the issue was arbitrable. The court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

Concurrence (Brennan, J.)

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