IATSE v. InSync Show Productions

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Labor Law
  • Date Filed: 09-04-2015
  • Case #: 12-17200
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judge Tashima and Senior District Judge Block
  • Full Text Opinion

Where there is a dispute over the duration of an arbitration clause within a collective bargaining agreement, it is up to the arbitrator to decide the contested interpretations of an evergreen clause and whether the arbitration clause expired or was terminated.

In 2003, InSync Show Productions, Inc. (InSync) and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) which contained an evergreen clause. The clause language says that the agreement shall continue in full force through 2007 and from year to year thereafter. The CBA also contained a grievance and arbitration procedure; a grievance being an allegation or a claim by an employee that the employer as violated a provision of the agreement, and in the event of arbitration, the arbitrator’s award is determined based on his interpretation of the meaning or application of the provisions of the agreement. As the parties tried to negotiate a successor agreement, they were unable to agree, so IATSE motioned to compel federal arbitration and “stayed” the case. The district court granted the petition. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed whether arbitration could be compelled. Within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. §1291, a district court, when presented with no other claims except a petition to compel arbitration, cannot issue a stay to prevent appellate review. Therefore, the panel concluded that the district court’s arbitration order was final since it lacked any practical or legal effect through the Labor Management Relations Act or the Federal Arbitration Act. Where there is a dispute over the duration of an arbitration clause, the initial inquiry is whether the arbitration clause covers those disputes. The scope of the arbitration provision and the nature of the dispute between the parties should be left to the arbitrator to decide whether the collective bargaining agreement expired when the parties sought to invoke the agreement’s grievance and arbitration procedure, or whether the agreement continued in effect based on the evergreen clause. AFFIRMED.

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