U. S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Graniterock Against Unions

Graniterock seeking ‘strike reimbursement, back pay’ after international, local unions failed to honor ‘no-strike’ clause in bargaining agreement. Court refuses to dismiss union claims, too.

by Tina Grady Barbaccia, News/Digital Editor

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Granite Rock Co. in a 7-2 vote, a decision that refused to dismiss from the case a local union that went on strike and held it responsible for disregarding a “no-strike” clause contained in the union’s most recent collective bargaining agreement.

The strike forced more than 450 Graniterock employees from their jobs, which effectively “harmed hundreds of [company employee] families, the company’s customers, and the company itself,” Graniterock notes in a written statement. Now the company is seeking “significant strike cost reimbursement, including back pay” for Graniterock’s 450 team members that were forced from their jobs.

In Granite Rock Company v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters & Teamsters Local 287 (Case No. 08–12140), Graniterock took the union to court after concrete ready-mix drivers represented by Teamsters Local 287 went on stroke against Graniterock in June 2004.

“The Teamsters Union decided to hold Graniterock Team Members hostage and use blackmail to escape responsibility for what they did,” says Tom Trainor, preventative maintenance manager who attended the Supreme Court’s oral argument, in a written statement. “The Court obviously values the promises made in collective bargaining agreements and does not believe that those promises should be easily forgotten or broken.”

Trainor says this ruling means that “unions will now 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 and the union settled the strike on July 2, 2004, and the union agreed to go back to work immediately.

For a more detailed report and analysis on this ruling, be sure to check out the August 2010 print edition of Aggregates Manager.