Vance M. Beggs will graduate from the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in June 1965. He has been awarded a research aasistantship in labor and industrial relations at the Graduate School of Michigan State University, and will begin his duties there in September.
Collective bargaining agreements frequently contain "successor in interest" clauses which state that should the employer sell or merge his business the collective bargaining agreement will be continued by the successor employer. Often, there is a dispute as to whether the successor is, in fact obligated to continue the agreement negotiated by the predecessor, and such issues have appeared both in arbitration cases and in the courts. This paper will attempt to reveal how judges and arbitrators have resolved such controversies in 23 cases since 1958.
Typically, the issue is brought to arbitration or to court on a union representative's assertion that the employer has refused to arbitrate a grievance, although such cases have also originated out of the employer's refusal to assume the agreement in any manner at all. In either event, a question of arbitrability is presented, and this question turns, fundamentally, on whether the successor company is, in fact, a party to the agreement. This is essentially a legal question, which is why ultimate decisions have been made by judges, rather than by arbitrators.