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General Building Contractors Association v. Pennsylvania

United States Supreme Court
458 U.S. 375 (1982)


Local 542 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (the Union) (defendant) maintained collective bargaining agreements with construction industry employers (defendants) requiring that the employers hire operating engineers only from among those referred by the Union. The Union referred these operating engineers from lists that classified the engineers according to their recent construction experience. Engineers could only gain access to the lists by participating in an apprenticeship program administered by the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC). These workers were prohibited from seeking work with employers who were parties to the collective bargaining agreements except through the Union’s referrals. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) (plaintiff) and a class of racial minorities seeking work as operating engineers (plaintiffs) sued the Union and the employers who were parties to the collective bargaining agreements, alleging that the exclusive hiring arrangement was being operated in a racially discriminatory manner. The district court ruled that the Union and the JATC was being administered in a racially discriminatory manner. The district court ruled that the signatory employers were not aware of the discrimination but had violated the applicable statutes. Based on this, the district court ordered injunctive relief against the employers, requiring that the employers meet detailed minority utilization goals and submit detailed quarterly reports describing the extent of their compliance with the district court’s order. The employers were also ordered to share in the financial cost of implementing the overall remedial decree. The employers appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which affirmed. The employers then petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, J.)

Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

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