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High Court Unanimous On Ibt Exposure To Graniterock Claims

The Supreme Court decision closing a six-year old Graniterock case against Teamsters Local 287 also opened legal avenues the concrete and aggregate producer to pursue against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Sources: Granite Rock Co.; CP staff; U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court decision closing a six-year old Graniterock case against Teamsters Local 287 (above item) also opened legal avenues for the concrete and aggregate producer to pursue against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

In a rebuke of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, San Francisco, justices found that federal law does not provide a shield for an international union that uses its influence over a local to injure an employer. That decision responds to a Graniterock petition for review of Ninth Circuit and U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose, decisions. Judges in both courts ruled that the Labor Management Relations Act preempted Graniterock claims against IBT for its role in company-wide work stoppages emanating from a June-July 2004 Teamsters 287 strike. Graniterock pressed a case against the International, contending that union officials--following Teamsters 287 membersÌ contract vote--extended work stoppages into July and August. IBT representativesÌ post-agreement actions spawned sympathy strikes throughout Graniterock concrete, aggregate and roadbuilding operations in northern California.

The Ninth Circuit decision wrongfully granted the International immunity for interfering with the contract between Graniterock and the Local. [It] said there was effectively a Îno man's landÌ in the law that allowed an international union to cause the violation of contracts made by its locals, and legally avoid the consequences of its bad acts. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the International from the case. The Supreme Court refused to adopt this view, explains Graniterock attorney Kevin Jeffery, who helped prepare briefs submitted to the Supreme Court.

In January 2010 oral arguments, Graniterock attorneys labeled the International's conduct extortion. Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas states, Graniterock describes a course of conduct that does indeed seem to strike at the heart of the collective bargaining process federal labor laws were designed to protect.

Responding to the opinion, Graniterock Preventive Maintenance Manager Tom Treaor said, The Teamsters Union decided to hold [our] Team Members hostage and use blackmail to escape responsibility for what they did. The Court obviously values the promises made in collective bargaining agreements ÷ Unions will be held responsible for their conduct because of the Supreme Court's decision, and the payment of damages will push their repugnant actions into the light of day.

The company is seeking significant strike cost reimbursement, including back pay for Team Members. Regarding future action against the IBT, We are in the process of thoroughly reviewing the Court's decision. The Supreme Court has actually opened the door to additional legal steps that we can now take, and we will carefully evaluate those and decide on the best course, affirms Graniterock counsel Garry Mathiason, of Littler Mendelson in San Francisco.