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Court rules on who should resolve disputes relating to timing of collective bargaining agreements

Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters (No. 08-1214) arises out of a dispute between a union and an employer after a 2004 strike.  [You can read Tim Tatarka’s preview of the case here.]  The parties had reached a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), but they disagreed about both when the CBA was formed and who should decide that question.  Today the Court, in an opinion by Justice Thomas, held that a court, rather than an arbitrator, should decide when the CBA was formed.  The Court explained that under the CBA, arbitration is required only when a dispute “arise[s] under” the agreement – which a dispute over when the CBA was formed does not.  The Court also held that the lower court properly declined to recognize a new federal common-law cause of action against the parent international union, which – according to the employer – tortiously interfered with the CBA.