D.C. Circuit Win in Organizing Agreement Case

August 3, 2021

On August 3, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit handed an important victory to Murphy Anderson’s client Communications Workers of America.

The CWA has a card-check organizing agreement with AT&T. When AT&T acquired TimeWarner in 2018, however, AT&T refused to apply the agreement to the new operations. When the Union demanded arbitration, AT&T claimed that the agreement did not allow CWA to arbitrate the breach as to newly acquired operations.

Murphy Anderson lawyers Michael Anderson, Arlus Stephens and Jason Veny filed suit to compel arbitration. The case was reassigned to a newly confirmed District Judge nominated by President Trump, who ruled for AT&T in April 2020. Murphy Anderson appealed to the D.C. Circuit.

On appeal, the D.C. Circuit agreed with the CWA, and reversed the District Court. The D.C. Circuit held that the Supreme Court’s expansive approach to arbitration – which corporations like AT&T routinely invoke against consumers and individual employees – foreclosed AT&T’s attempt to avoid arbitration with the Union.

The case is Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO v. AT&T, Inc., 6 F.4th 1344 (D.C. Cir. 2021)