WILLIAM E. ARNOLD CO. v.
CARPENTERS DISTRICT COUNCIL OF JACKSONVILLE AND VICINITY ET AL.
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA.
Argued March 20, 1974.
Decided May 20, 1974.
When respondent unions called a jurisdictional-dispute strike against petitioner employer, petitioner brought this suit, which is within the purview of 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, in a Florida trial court to enjoin respondents' breach of a no-strike clause in the collective-bargaining agreement containing a binding settlement procedure. That court issued a temporary restraining order against the strike, and its action was upheld by an intermediate appellate court. The Florida Supreme Court reversed, holding that since the unions' breach was also arguably an unfair labor practice under 8 (b) (4) (i) (D) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) involving jurisdictional disputes, the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was exclusive. Held:
BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
John Paul Jones argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the brief were Daniel R. Coffman, Jr., and Allan P. Clark.
Joseph S. Farley, Jr., argued the cause and filed a brief for respondents. *
[ Footnote * ] Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by Solicitor General Bork, Peter G. Nash, John S. Irving, Patrick Hardin, and Norton J. Come for the United States, and by Gerard C. Smetana, Jerry Kronenberg, and Milton Smith for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.
MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Florida Supreme Court held that the Florida District Court of Appeal erred in refusing to issue a writ of prohibition to restrain the Circuit Court for Duval County from exercising its jurisdiction over a suit within the purview of 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). 1 The suit sought to enjoin respondent unions' breach of a no-strike clause contained in a [417 U.S. 12, 14] collective-bargaining agreement, which breach arguably is also an unfair labor practice under the Act. The State Supreme Court stated: "It is unquestionable that state courts do have jurisdiction to enforce a collective-bargaining agreement and to enjoin a strike in violation of a `no-strike' clause contained therein, but not when the strike is also arguably an unfair labor practice prohibited by federal law." 279 So.2d 300, 302 (1973). We granted certiorari to decide whether the holding of the Florida Supreme Court was consistent with decisions of this Court, including Teamsters Local v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95 (1962), and Smith v. Evening News Assn., 371 U.S. 195 (1962). 414 U.S. 1063 (1973). We reverse.
Article VI of a collective-bargaining agreement between petitioner, William E. Arnold Co., and respondents, Carpenters District Council of Jacksonville and Vicinity and its affiliate, Local 627 (Carpenters), provides:
When an activity is either arguably protected by 7 or arguably prohibited by 8 of the NLRA, the pre-emption doctrine developed in San Diego Building Trades Council v. Garmon, 359 U.S. 236 (1959), and its progeny, teaches that ordinarily "the States as well as the federal courts must defer to the exclusive competence [417 U.S. 12, 16] of the National Labor Relations Board if the danger of state interference with national policy is to be averted." Id., at 245. When, however, the activity in question also constitutes a breach of a collective-bargaining agreement, the Board's authority "is not exclusive and does not destroy the jurisdiction of the courts in suits under 301." Smith v. Evening News Assn., 371 U.S., at 197 . This exception was explicitly reaffirmed in Motor Coach Employees v. Lockridge, 403 U.S. 274, 297 -298 (1971). It was fashioned because the history of 301 reveals that "Congress deliberately chose to leave the enforcement of collective agreements `to the usual processes of the law,'" Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S. 502, 513 (1962). Thus, we have said that the Garmon doctrine is "not relevant" to actions within the purview of 301, Teamsters Local v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S., at 101 n. 9, which may be brought in either state or federal courts, Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, supra, at 506.
Indeed, Board policy is to refrain from exercising jurisdiction in respect of disputed conduct arguably both an unfair labor practice and a contract violation when, as in this case, the parties have voluntarily established by contract a binding settlement procedure. See, e. g., The Associated Press, 199 N. L. R. B. 1110 (1972); Eastman Broadcasting Co., 199 N. L. R. B. 434 (1972); Laborers Local 423, 199 N. L. R. B. 450 (1972); Collyer Insulated Wire, 192 N. L. R. B. 837 (1971). The Board said in Collyer, "an industrial relations dispute may involve conduct which, at least arguably, may contravene both the collective agreement and our statute. When the parties have contractually committed themselves to mutually agreeable procedures for resolving their disputes during the period of the contract, we are of the view that those procedures should be afforded full opportunity to [417 U.S. 12, 17] function. . . . We believe it to be consistent with the fundamental objectives of Federal law to require the parties . . . to honor their contractual obligations rather than, by casting [their] dispute in statutory terms, to ignore their agreed-upon procedures." Id., at 842-843. The Board's position harmonizes with Congress' articulated concern that, "[f]inal adjustment by a method agreed upon by the parties is . . . the desirable method for settlement of grievance disputes arising over the application or interpretation of an existing collective-bargaining agreement. . . ." 203 (d) of the LMRA, 29 U.S.C. 173 (d).
Furthermore, when the particular contract violation also involves an arguable violation of 8 (b) (4) (i) (D) of the NLRA concerning jurisdictional disputes, as in this case, the Board has recognized added policy justifications for deferring to the contractual dispute settlement mechanism agreed upon by the parties. Section 10 (k) of the NLRA, 29 U.S.C. 160 (k), establishes a special procedure for the Board's resolution of charges involving jurisdictional disputes:
The Board's practice and policy of declining to exercise its concurrent jurisdiction over arguably unfair labor practices which also violate provisions of collective-bargaining agreements for voluntary adjustment of disputes highlight the congressional purpose that 301 suits in state and federal courts should be the primary means for "promoting collective bargaining that [ends] with agreements not to strike." Textile Workers v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448, 453 (1957). The assurance of swift and effective judicial relief provides incentive to eschew economic weapons in favor of binding grievance procedures and no-strike clauses.
The Carpenters contend, however, that state court jurisdiction over collective-bargaining disputes should be limited to claims for damages, rather than injunctive relief. See Brief for Respondents 7-9. We disagree. To be sure, Lucas, Smith, and Lockridge, all supra, involved only damages claims, but nothing in the opinions in those cases remotely suggests that state court jurisdiction should turn upon the particular type of relief sought. [417 U.S. 12, 19] Indeed, Avco Corp. v. Aero Lodge 735, 390 U.S. 557, 561 (1968), disposes of the argument. We there said: "The nature of the relief available after jurisdiction attaches is, of course, different from the question whether there is jurisdiction to adjudicate the controversy. . . . Any error in granting or designing relief `does not go to the jurisdiction of the court.' Swift & Co. v. United States, 276 U.S. 311, 331 ." Moreover, the policy reasons against extension of the Garmon doctrine to suits within the scope of 301 are particularly compelling when the relief sought is specific performance of a no-strike obligation, rather than damages. What we said in Boys Markets v. Clerks Union, 398 U.S. 235, 248 (1970), is pertinent here:
Therefore, we reject the argument of Carpenters that the availability of effective equitable relief should be limited to the federal courts. We have previously expressed our agreement with Chief Justice Traynor of the California Supreme Court that "whether or not Congress could deprive state courts of the power to give such [injunctive] remedies when enforcing collective-bargaining agreements, it has not attempted to do so either in the Norris-La Guardia Act or section 301," McCarroll v. Los Angeles County Dist. Council of Carpenters, 49 Cal. 2d 45, 63, 315 P.2d 322, 332 (1957). See Boys Markets v. Clerks Union, supra, at 247. Rather, the jurisdiction given federal courts under 301 was "not to displace, but to supplement, the thoroughly considered jurisdiction of the courts of the various States over contracts made by labor organizations," Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S., at 511 .
We do not, of course, pass upon the propriety of the injunctive relief sought in the present case. That is a question to be resolved on remand. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Florida is reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
[ Footnote 2 ] Section 8 (b) (4) makes it an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents: