American President Lines v. ILWU

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
  • Date Filed: 07-12-2013
  • Case #: 11-36080
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tallman for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and N. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

Section 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act does not preclude an employer from bringing a claim against a union for “unfair labor practices,” even if the employer fails to file a petition to vacate an arbitration award.

Under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, American President Lines (“APL”) employed longshore workers represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”) in particular Alaskan ports. When APL hired workers represented by another union, ILWU filed a grievance according to the arbitration terms of the collective bargaining agreement. After several rounds of arbitration, APL filed suit against ILWU, claiming that ILWU violated § 303 of the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) by engaging in “unfair labor practices” that coerced APL to sign an agreement during arbitration. The district court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that APL lack statutory standing under the LMRA because the claim had already been decided through arbitration. On appeal, ILWU argued that APL had failed to exhaust the arbitration process by failing to file a petition to vacate the arbitrator’s award. The Ninth Circuit disagreed, reversing the district court’s holding. The panel held that APL had statutory standing under § 303 because nothing in the statute precluded APL from filing, and congressional intent indicated that the purpose behind § 303 was to provide a judicial forum for an employer to bring an action for damages against a labor union. Additionally, for standing purposes, the panel held that APL had sufficiently alleged damages due to ILWU’s unfair labor practices. VACATED AND REMANDED for consideration on the merits.

Advanced Search