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Back in the days before the Green Bay Packers acquired fee simple title to the National Football League championship, I saw a playoff game here at the Cleveland Stadium between the Browns and the Detroit Lions. My Michigan loyalties have created a mental block as to the final score, but I do have a vivid recollection of one stirring goal-line stand by Detroit. A great, burly Lion tackle stationed himself about a foot from the goal post—and I remember thinking that whatever play the Brown quarterback might call, it certainly wasn't going to be a run over tackle. In facing two such formidable advocates as Dick Mittenthal and Bob Howlett, I feel very much like that Brown quarterback of yesteryear. (I shall refrain, however, from carrying out the analogy so far as to indicate which of these gentlemen reminds me of the tackle, and which of the goal post.) In short, I'd like to avoid as long as possible a direct confrontation with either of them. Therefore, perhaps I should start off by trying an end run. To begin with, I think we can substantially reduce the area of potential conflict among us. First, I take it we'd all concede that the union and the employer may agree, either through the contract or the submission agreement, that the arbitrator is to rule on statutory as well as contractual issues, or that he is to interpret the contract in the light of relevant statutes as construed by the courts or administrative agencies. What binding effect such agreements by the parties might have on the various public tribunals is beyond the scope of our subject here. But, as far as the parties themselves were concerned, there would be no doubt about the propriety of the arbitrator's considering the effect of statutes.


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