Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters v. Drywall Dynamics, Inc.

Arbitrators’ award holding defendant bound by a collective bargaining agreement as a member of the multi-employer bargaining unit should have been confirmed despite court’s finding arbitrators’ construction of the agreement “implausible” and despite argument it violated public policy.  In reviewing an arbitration award in the context of a collective bargaining agreement, the court’s only role is to determine whether the award references and construes the collective bargaining agreement or not.  The court is not allowed to overturn the arbitrator’s award simply because it adopts what the court views as an implausible or wholly incorrect interpretation of the contract.  Also, when the award is challenged for violating public policy, the court may vacate the award only if it is contrary to an explicit, well-defined and dominant public policy as ascertained from positive law not general considerations of the supposed public interest.  Here, the arbitrators found that the employer was bound to the collective bargaining agreement as a member of the multi-employer bargaining unit.  That determination furthered the public policy favoring stability of multi-employer bargaining units while impinging on the public policy favoring voluntariness.  When there are conflicting public policies, neither is dominant, and the arbitration award must be confirmed.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Berzon, J.); May 19, 2016; 2016 WL 2909241

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