Arbitrability issue not arbitrable

The company’s Collective Bargaining Agreement said: “Discharge for a confirmed positive test under the substance abuse policy shall not be subject to grievance or arbitration. However, relative to such discharge the union continues to maintain the right to grieve and arbitrate issues around the integrity of the chain of custody.”  The union began an arbitration to challenge an employee’s termination for failing a drug test.  ConocoPhillips, Inc. v. Local 13-0555 United Steelworkers Int’l Union, No. 12-31225 (Jan. 30, 2014).  The arbitrator concluded that he had jurisdiction over that claim.  The company successfully opposed confirmation on the ground that he lacked power to decide jurisdiction, and the Fifth Circuit affirmed, finding no provision that “clearly and unmistakably” granted such authority.

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