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Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams

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Facts: Caterpillar hired many employees between 1956 and 1968. The employees initially filled a position covered by the collective-bargaining agreement between Caterpillar and the local union. Each of the employees eventually became a salaried employee. Promises were made that the employees would be taken care of. They would have "indefinite and lasting employment with the corp." Later they were downgraded back to hourly employees under the collective-bargaining agreement, at which time they were told the change was a temporary one. Later they were laid off.

Procedural History: Ex-employees filed an action based solely on state law contending a breach in employment agreement. Caterpillar removed to fed. court, arguing that the individual contracts were superseded by the collective-bargaining agreement. District court held that removal was proper. Court of Appeals for the Ninth circuit reversed.

Issue: Whether respondents' state-law complaint for breach of individual employment contracts is completely pre-empted by section 301 of the labor management relations act, and therefore removable to federal district court.

Holding: Not removable.

Reasons: Plaintiffs have the power to choose to file solely under state law in order to make the case not removable. In this case, they did so.