MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case we re-examine the holding of Sinclair Refining Co. v. Atkinson, 370 U.S. 195 (1962), that the anti-injunction provisions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act
In February 1969, at the time of the incidents that produced this litigation, petitioner and respondent were parties to a collective-bargaining agreement which provided, inter alia, that all controversies concerning its interpretation or application should be resolved by adjustment and arbitration procedures set forth therein
The following day, since the strike had not been terminated, petitioner filed a complaint in California
At the outset, we are met with respondent's contention that Sinclair ought not to be disturbed because the decision turned on a question of statutory construction which Congress can alter at any time. Since Congress has not modified our conclusions in Sinclair, even though it has been urged to do so,
We do not agree that the doctrine of stare decisis bars a re-examination of Sinclair in the circumstances of this case. We fully recognize that important policy considerations militate in favor of continuity and predictability in the law. Nevertheless, as Mr. Justice Frankfurter
Nor can we agree that conclusive weight should be accorded to the failure of Congress to respond to Sinclair on the theory that congressional silence should be interpreted as acceptance of the decision. The Court has cautioned that "[i]t is at best treacherous to find in congressional silence alone the adoption of a controlling rule of law." Girouard v. United States, 328 U.S. 61, 69
From the time Textile Workers Union v. Lincoln Mills, 353 U.S. 448 (1957), was decided, we have frequently found it necessary to consider various substantive and procedural aspects of federal labor contract law and questions concerning its application in both state and federal courts. Lincoln Mills held generally that "the substantive law to apply in suits under § 301 (a) is federal law, which the courts must fashion from the policy of our national labor laws," 353 U. S., at 456, and more specifically that a union can obtain specific performance of an employer's promise to arbitrate grievances. We rejected the contention that the anti-injunction proscriptions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibited this type of relief, nothing that a refusal to arbitrate was not "part and parcel of the abuses against which the Act was aimed," id., at 458, and that the Act itself manifests a policy determination that arbitration should be encouraged. See 29 U. S. C. § 108.
Serious questions remained, however, concerning the role that state courts were to play in suits involving collective-bargaining agreements. Confronted with some of these problems in Charles Dowd Box Co. v. Courtney, 368 U.S. 502 (1962), we held that Congress clearly intended not to disturb the pre-existing jurisdiction of the state courts over suits for violations of collective-bar-gaining agreements. We noted that the
Shortly after the decision in Dowd Box, we sustained, in Teamsters Local 174 v. Lucas Flour Co., 369 U.S. 95 (1962), an award of damages by a state court to an employer for a breach by the union of a no-strike provision in its contract. While emphasizing that "in enacting § 301 Congress intended doctrines of federal labor law uniformly to prevail over inconsistent local rules." id., at 104, we did not consider the applicability of the Norris-LaGuardia Act to state court proceedings because the employer's prayer for relief sought only
Subsequent to the decision in Sinclair, we held in Avco Corp. v. Aero Lodge 735, supra, that § 301 (a) suits initially brought in state courts may be removed to the designated federal forum under the federal question removal jurisdiction delineated in 28 U. S. C. § 1441. In so holding, however, the Court expressly left open the questions whether state courts are bound by the anti-injunction proscriptions of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and whether federal courts, after removal of a § 301 (a) action, are required to dissolve any injunctive relief previously granted by the state courts. See generally General Electric Co. v. Local Union 191, 413 F.2d 964 (C. A. 5th Cir. 1969) (dissolution of state injunction required). Three Justices who concurred expressed the view that Sinclair should be reconsidered "upon an appropriate future occasion." 390 U. S., at 562 (STEWART, J., concurring).
The decision in Avco, viewed in the context of Lincoln Mills and its progeny, has produced an anomalous situation which, in our view, makes urgent the reconsideration of Sinclair. The principal practical effect of Avco and Sinclair taken together is nothing less than to oust state courts of jurisdiction in § 301 (a) suits where injunctive
On the other hand, to the extent that widely disparate remedies theoretically remain available in state, as opposed to federal, courts, the federal policy of labor law
Furthermore, the existing scheme, with the injunction remedy technically available in the state courts but rendered inefficacious by the removal device, assigns to removal proceedings a totally unintended function. While the underlying purposes of Congress in providing for federal question removal jurisdiction remain somewhat obscure,
It is undoubtedly true that each of the foregoing objections to Sinclair-Avco could be remedied either by overruling Sinclair or by extending that decision to the States. While some commentators have suggested that the solution to the present unsatisfactory situation does lie in the extension of the Sinclair prohibition to state court proceedings,
An additional reason for not resolving the existing dilemma by extending Sinclair to the States is the devastating implications for the enforceability of arbitration agreements and their accompanying no-strike obligations if equitable remedies were not available.
We have also determined that the dissenting opinion in Sinclair states the correct principles concerning the accommodation necessary between the seemingly absolute terms of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the policy considerations underlying § 301 (a).
The literal terms of § 4 of the Norris-LaGuardia Act must be accommodated to the subsequently enacted provisions of § 301 (a) of the Labor Management Relations Act and the purposes of arbitration. Statutory interpretation requires more than concentration upon isolated words; rather, consideration must be given to the total corpus of pertinent law and the policies that inspired ostensibly inconsistent provisions. See Richards v. United States, 369 U.S. 1, 11 (1962); Mastro Plastics Corp. v. NLRB, 350 U.S. 270, 285 (1956); United States v. Hutcheson, 312 U.S. 219, 235 (1941).
The Norris-LaGuardia Act was responsive to a situation totally different from that which exists today. In the early part of this century, the federal courts generally were regarded as allies of management in its attempt to prevent the organization and strengthening of labor unions; and in this industrial struggle the injunction became a potent weapon that was wielded against the activities of labor groups.
As labor organizations grew in strength and developed toward maturity, congressional emphasis shifted from protection of the nascent labor movement to the encouragement of collective bargaining and to administrative techniques for the peaceful resolution of industrial disputes. This shift in emphasis was accomplished, however, without extensive revision of many of the older enactments, including the anti-injunction section of the Norris-LaGuardia Act. Thus it became the task of the courts to accommodate, to reconcile the older statutes with the more recent ones.
A leading example of this accommodation process is Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Chicago River & Ind. R. Co., 353 U.S. 30 (1957). There we were confronted with a peaceful strike which violated the statutory duty to arbitrate imposed by the Railway Labor Act. The Court concluded that a strike in violation of a statutory arbitration duty was not the type of situation
The principles elaborated in Chicago River are equally applicable to the present case. To be sure, Chicago River involved arbitration procedures established by statute. However, we have frequently noted, in such cases as Lincoln Mills, the Steelworkers Trilogy, and Lucas Flour, the importance that Congress has attached generally to the voluntary settlement of labor disputes without resort to self-help and more particularly to arbitration as a means to this end. Indeed, it has been stated that Lincoln Mills, in its exposition of § 301 (a), "went a long way towards making arbitration the central institution in the administration of collective bargaining contracts."
The Sinclair decision, however, seriously undermined the effectiveness of the arbitration technique as a method peacefully to resolve industrial disputes without resort to strikes, lockouts, and similar devices. Clearly employers will be wary of assuming obligations to arbitrate specifically enforceable against them when no similarly efficacious remedy is available to enforce the concomitant undertaking of the union to refrain from striking. On the other hand, the central purpose of the Norris-LaGuardia Act to foster the growth and viability of labor organizations is hardly retarded—if anything, this goal is advanced—by a remedial device that merely enforces the obligation that the union freely undertook under
Our holding in the present case is a narrow one. We do not undermine the vitality of the Norris-LaGuardia Act. We deal only with the situation in which a collective-bargaining contract contains a mandatory grievance adjustment or arbitration procedure. Nor does it follow from what we have said that injunctive relief is appropriate
In the present case there is no dispute that the grievance in question was subject to adjustment and arbitration under the collective-bargaining agreement and that the petitioner was ready to proceed with arbitration at the time an injunction against the strike was sought and obtained. The District Court also concluded that, by reason of respondent's violations of its no-strike obligation, petitioner "has suffered irreparable injury and will continue to suffer irreparable injury." Since we now
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL took no part in the decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE STEWART, concurring.
When Sinclair Refining Co. v. Atkinson, 370 U.S. 195, was decided in 1962, I subscribed to the opinion of the Court. Before six years had passed I had reached the conclusion that the Sinclair holding should be reconsidered, and said so in Avco Corp. v. Aero Lodge 735, 390 U.S. 557, 562 (concurring opinion). Today I join the Court in concluding "that Sinclair was erroneously decided and that subsequent events have undermined its continuing validity . . . ."
In these circumstances the temptation is strong to embark upon a lengthy personal apologia. But since MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN has so clearly stated my present views in his opinion for the Court today, I simply join in that opinion and in the Court's judgment. An aphorism of Mr. Justice Frankfurter provides me refuge: "Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Henslee v. Union Planters Bank, 335 U.S. 595, 600 (dissenting opinion).
MR. JUSTICE BLACK, dissenting.
Congress in 1932 enacted the Norris-LaGuardia Act, § 4 of which, 29 U. S. C. § 104, with exceptions not here relevant, specifically prohibited federal courts in the broadest and most comprehensive language from
Although Congress has been urged to overrule our holding in Sinclair, it has steadfastly refused to do so. Nothing in the language or history of the two Acts has changed. Nothing at all has changed, in fact, except the membership of the Court and the personal views of one Justice. I remain of the opinion that Sinclair was correctly decided, and, moreover, that the prohibition of the Norris-LaGuardia Act is close to the heart of the entire federal system of labor regulation. In my view Sinclair should control the disposition of this case.
Even if the majority were correct, however, in saying that Sinclair misinterpreted the Taft-Hartley and Norris-LaGuardia Acts, I should be compelled to dissent. I believe that both the making and the changing of laws which affect the substantial rights of the people are primarily for Congress, not this Court. Most especially is this so when the laws involved are the focus of strongly held views of powerful but antagonistic political and economic interests. The Court's function in the application and interpretation of such laws must be carefully limited to avoid encroaching on the power of
When the Court implies that the doctrine called stare decisis rests solely on "important policy considerations. . . in favor of continuity and predictability in the law," it does not tell the whole story. Such considerations are present and, in a field as delicate as labor relations, extremely important. Justice Brandeis said, dissenting in Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., 285 U.S. 393, 406 (1932):
In the ordinary case, considerations of certainty and the equal treatment of similarly situated litigants will provide a strong incentive to adhere to precedent.
When this Court is interpreting a statute, however, an additional factor must be weighed in the balance. It is the deference that this Court owes to the primary responsibility of the legislature in the making of laws. Of course, when this Court first interprets a statute, then the statute becomes what this Court has said it is. See Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co. v. Moser, 275 U.S. 133, 136 (1927). Such an initial interpretation is proper, and unavoidable, in any system in which courts have the task of applying general statutes in a multitude of situations B. Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process 112-115 (1921). The Court undertakes the task of interpretation, however, not because the Court has any special ability to fathom the intent of Congress, but rather because interpretation is unavoidable in the decision of the case before it. When the law has been settled by an earlier case then any subsequent "reinterpretation" of the statute is gratuitous and neither more nor less than
Altering the important provisions of a statute is a legislative function. And the Constitution states simply and unequivocally: "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States . . . ." U. S. Const. Art. I. It is the Congress, not this Court, that responds to the pressures of political groups, pressures entirely proper in a free society. It is Congress, not this Court, that has the capacity to investigate the divergent considerations involved in the management of a complex national labor policy. And it is Congress, not this Court, that is elected by the people. This Court should, therefore, interject itself as little as possible into the law-making and law-changing process. Having given our view on the meaning of a statute, our task is concluded, absent extraordinary circumstances. When the Court changes its mind years later, simply because the judges have changed, in my judgment, it takes upon itself the function of the legislature.
The legislative effect of the Court's reversal is especially clear here. In Sinclair the Court invited Congress to act if it should be displeased with the judicial interpretation of the statute. We said, 370 U. S., at 214-215:
Commentators on our holding found this invitation to legislative action clear, and judicial self-restraint proper. See Dunau, Three Problems in Labor Arbitration, 55 Va. L. Rev. 427, 464-465 (1969); Wellington & Albert, Statutory Interpretation and the Political Process: A Comment on Sinclair v. Atkinson, 72 Yale L. J. 1547, 1565-1566 (1963). Bills were introduced in Congress seeking to effect a legislative change. S. 2132, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965); H. R. 9059, 89th Cong., 1st Sess. (1965). Congress, however, did not act, thus indicating at least a willingness to leave the law as Sinclair had construed it. It seems to me highly inappropriate for this Court now, eight years later, in effect to enact the amendment that Congress has refused to adopt. Toolson v. New York Yankees, Inc., 346 U.S. 356 (1953); see also United States v. International Boxing Club of New York, Inc., 348 U.S. 236, 242-244 (1955).
I do not believe that the principle of stare decisis forecloses all reconsiderations of earlier decisions. In the area of constitutional law, for example, where the only alternative to action by this Court is the laborious process of constitutional amendment and where the ultimate responsibility rests with this Court, I believe reconsideration is always proper. See James v. United States, 366 U.S. 213, 233-234 (1961) (separate opinion
The only "subsequent event" to which the Court can point is our decision in Avco Corp. v. Aero Lodge 735, 390 U.S. 557 (1968). The Court must recognize that the holding of Avco is in no way inconsistent with Sinclair. As we said in Avco, supra, at 561: "The nature of the relief available after jurisdiction attaches is, of course, different from the question whether there is jurisdiction to adjudicate the controversy." The Court contends, however, that the result of the two cases taken together is the "anomalous situation" that no-strike clauses become unenforceable in state courts, and this is inconsistent with "an important goal of our national labor policy."
The correct interpretation of the Taft-Hartley Act, and even the goals of "our national labor policy," are less important than the proper division of functions between the branches of our Federal Government. The Court would do well to remember the words of John Adams, written in the Declaration of Rights in the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
"(a) Ceasing or refusing to perform any work or to remain in any relation of employment;
"(e) Giving publicity to the existence of, or the facts involved in, any labor dispute, whether by advertising, speaking, patrolling, or by any other method not involving fraud or violence;
"(f) Assembling peaceably to act or to organize to act in promotion of their interests in a labor dispute;
"(i) Advising, urging, or otherwise causing or inducing without fraud or violence the acts heretofore specified . . . ." § 4, 47 Stat. 70, 29 U. S. C. § 104.
"ADJUSTMENT AND ARBITRATION
"A. CONTROVERSY, DISPUTE OR DISAGREEMENT.
"Any and all matters of controversy, dispute or disagreement of any kind or character existing between the parties and arising out of or in any way involving the interpretation or application of the terms of this Agreement . . . [with certain exceptions not relevant to the instant case] shall be settled and resolved by the procedures and in the manner hereinafter set forth.
"B. ADJUSTMENT PROCEDURE.
"1. Any matter not satisfactorily settled or resolved in Paragraph B hereinabove shall be submitted to arbitration for final determination upon written demand of either party. . . .
"4. The arbitrator or board of arbitration shall be empowered to hear and determine the matter in question and the determination shall be final and binding upon the parties, subject only to their rights under law. . . ."
"2. Work Stoppages. Matters subject to the procedures of this Article shall be settled and resolved in the manner provided herein. During the term of this Agreement, there shall be no cessation or stoppage of work, lock-out, picketing or boycotts, except that this limitation shall not be binding upon either party hereto if the other party refuses to perform any obligation under this Article or refuses or fails to abide by, accept or perform a decision or award of an arbitrator or board."
"No restraining order or injunctive relief shall be granted to any complainant who has failed to comply with any obligation imposed by law which is involved in the labor dispute in question, or who has failed to make every reasonable effort to settle such dispute either by negotiation or with the aid of any available governmental machinery of mediation or voluntary arbitration."
See generally Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen v. Toledo, Peoria & W. R. Co., 321 U.S. 50 (1944).
"Mr. FERGUSON. Mr. President, there is nothing whatever in the now-being-considered amendment which takes away from the State courts all the present rights of the State courts to adjudicate the rights between parties in relation to labor agreements. The amendment merely says that the Federal courts shall have jurisdiction. It does not attempt to take away the jurisdiction of the State courts, and the mere fact that the Senator and I disagree does not change the effect of the amendment.
"Mr. MURRAY. But it authorizes the employers to bring suit in the Federal courts, if they so desire.
"Mr. FERGUSON. That is correct. That is all it does. It takes away no jurisdiction of the State courts." 92 Cong. Rec. 5708.
"Under existing laws, employers may maintain an action for damages resulting from a strike in breach of contract and may discipline the employees involved. In many cases, however, neither of these alternatives will be feasible. Discharge of the strikers is often inexpedient because of a lack of qualified replacements or because of the adverse effect on relationships within the plant. The damage remedy may also be unsatisfactory because the employer's losses are often hard to calculate and because the employer may hesitate to exacerbate relations with the union by bringing a damage action. Hence, injunctive relief will often be the only effective means by which to remedy the breach of the no-strike pledge and thus effectuate federal labor policy." A. B. A. Sinclair Report 242.
"Any proposal which would subject unions to injunctive relief must take account of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the opposition expressed in that Act to the issuing of injunctions in labor disputes. Nevertheless, the reasons behind the Norris-LaGuardia Act seem scarcely applicable to the situation . . . [in which a strike in violation of a collective-bargaining agreement is enjoined]. The Act was passed primarily because of widespread dissatisfaction with the tendency of judges to enjoin concerted activities in accordance with `doctrines of tort law which made the lawfulness of a strike depend upon judicial views of social and economic policy.' [Citation omitted.] Where an injunction is used against a strike in breach of contract, the union is not subjected in this fashion to judicially created limitations on its freedom of action but is simply compelled to comply with limitations to which it has previously agreed. Moreover, where the underlying dispute is arbitrable, the union is not deprived of any practicable means of pressing its claim but is only required to submit the dispute to the impartial tribunal that it has agreed to establish for this purpose." A. B. A. Sinclair Report 242.
"An error in interpreting a federal statute may be easily remedied. If this Court has failed to perceive the intention of Congress, or has interpreted a statute in such a manner as to thwart the legislative purpose, Congress may change it. The lessons of experience are not learned by judges alone."
See also United Gas Improvement Co. v. Continental Oil Co., 381 U.S. 392, 406 (1965) (DOUGLAS, J., dissenting). Apparently, however, some members of the Court are willing to give greater weight to stare decisis in constitutional than in statutory matters. See, e. g., Orozco v. Texas, 394 U.S. 324, 327-328 (1969) (HARLAN, J., concurring).
MR. JUSTICE WHITE dissents for the reasons stated in the majority opinion in Sinclair Refining Co. v. Atkinson, 370 U.S. 195 (1962).