union, wildcat strike


Most collective labor agreements contain a no-strike clause, a promise by the union that it will not authorize a strike in the bargaining unit for the life of the contract. Under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, "parent unions," as parties to collective bargaining contracts, are subject to liability for damages in federal court for breach of no-strike agreements. A parent union, however, cannot be held liable to an employer for a work stoppage not authorized or ratified by it. Such unauthorized work stoppages are commonly referred to as wildcat strikes. Recently, the Supreme Court held in Carbon Fuel Co. v. United Mine Workers, that a no-strike clause implied no obligation on the part of the parent union to take affirmative steps to end wildcat strikes. In a subsequent decision, however, the Sixth Circuit in United Steelworkers of American v. Lorain held that a no-strike provision which included an express promise to "actively discourage an endeavor to ... terminate" all strikes did not create a duty on the part of the international union to attempt to end a wildcat strike. This Note will examine the legislative goals of Section 301 and the implementation of these goals by the courts. Further, it will be argued that the Sixth Circuit's holding in Lorain diverges from these well-recognized goals. Specifically, it will be argued that 1) an express covenant creating a duty on the part of the parent union to take affirmative steps toward ending an unauthorized work stoppage should be enforced given the underlying policies of congressional labor legislation; 2) the Lorain court improperly construed the no-strike agreement, particularly in light of these congressional policies; and 3) enforcement of an affirmative duty to end wildcat strikes would not undermine the union's position as the representative of its membership.



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