14 133 Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers, Express and Station Employees v. Association For Benefit Ofemployees United Air Lines, Inc v. National Mediation Board National Mediation Board v. Association For Benefit Ofemployees

Citation14 L.Ed.2d 133,380 U.S. 650,85 S.Ct. 1192
Decision Date28 April 1965
Docket NumberNos. 138,139,NON-CONTRACT,369,N-CONTRACT,s. 138
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Archibald Cox, Sol. Gen., for respondents in No. 139 and petitioners in No. 369.

[Syllabus from pages 650-652 intentionally omitted] James L. Highsaw, Jr., Washington, D.C., for petitioner in No. 138.

Stuart Bernstein, Chicago, Ill., for petitioner in No. 139.

Alex L. Arguello, San Francisco, Cal., for respondent in Nos. 138 and 369.

Mr. Justice CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.

These consolidated cases involve claims of United Air Lines (United) and the Association for the Benefit of Non-Contract Employees of United (the Association), attacking the form of ballot that the Board intends to use in a representation election among United's employees under § 2, Ninth of the Railway Labor Act, 44 Stat. 577 as amended, 45 U.S.C. § 152, Ninth (1958 ed.). 1 United also contends that the National Mediation Board (Board) should hold a hearing under the same section, with its participation, to determine the appropriate craft or class in which the election should be held. Before the Board the conflicting unions Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks (Brotherhood) and International Association of Machinists (Machinists)—agreed that the appropriate craft or class in which the election should be held was 'clerical, office, stores, fleet and passenger service employees'; over the objection of United the Board ordered an election in this unit to determine which union, if either, would be its bargaining representative. United then filed suit against the Board raising the questions it presses here. This case was dismissed and is here, after affirmance by the Court of Appeals, as No. 139. After this dismissal the Association filed suit against the Board, the Brotherhood being permitted to intervene, and raised substantially the same claims. The District Court enjoined the Board from conducting an election with a ballot that did not permit an employee to cast a vote against collective bargaining representation; the other issues were remanded to the Board for further consideration. 218 F.Supp. 114. The Court of Appeals affirmed these cases by a divided court and they are here as Nos. 138 and 369. 117 U.S.App.D.C. 387, 330 F.2d 853. Judge Wright, dissenting, thought the District Court was without jurisdiction to enjoin the Board from conducting a representation election, citing Switchmen's Union v. National Mediation Board, 320 U.S. 297, 64 S.Ct. 95, 88 L.Ed. 61 (1943). We granted certiorari in all three of the cases. 379 U.S. 814, 85 S.Ct. 44, 13 L.Ed.2d 27.

We hold that the Board satisfied its statutory duty to investigate the dispute; that United is not entitled to be a party to proceedings by which the Board determines the scope of the appropriate craft or class; and that the Board's choice of ballot for its future elections does not exceed its statutory authority and is therefore not open to judicial review.


In January 1947, after lengthy hearings in which United and other airlines participated at the request of the Board, it was determined that the 'clerical, office, stores, fleet and passenger service' grouping of employees constituted an appropriate craft or class, within the meaning of the Act, for collective bargaining purposes. Case No. R—1706, N.M.B. Determinations of Craft or Class 423 (1948). All of the parties here, save the Association, participated in this public hearing. Since that time they have participated in other cases involving the same questions decided in R—1706, but, with some exceptions, the Board has continued through the years to hold elections in that craft or class.

In August 1962 the Brotherhood filed with the Board an application under § 2, Ninth to investigate a representation dispute among employees of United. In its original application the Brotherhood proposed to exclude those stores and fleet service personnel then represented by the Machinists. After the Board had advised United and the Machinists of the Brotherhood's application each informed the Board that in its opinion the application should be dismissed because it did not conform to what the Board had found to constitute a craft or class in Case No. R—1706, supra. Alternatively, United requested that if dismissal was not in order the Board should hold hearings to determine the proper craft or class in which the election should be held. Upon receiving notice of this opposition the Brotherhood amended its application to include the full craft or class approved in R—1706. The Machinists then agreed that this was the appropriate unit in which to conduct the election.

The Board concluded that a dispute existed requiring an election and scheduled one for January 1963. It proposed to use its standard form of ballot which provided for the printing of the names of the labor organizations—in this case, the Brotherhood and the Machinists—with a box below each name for the employee to check the representative preferred. A third space was provided in which the employee could write in the name of any other organization or individual he wished to represent him. There was not a place on the ballot in which the employee could vote specifically for 'no union.'

The Board, on December 19, 1962, directed that a list of the employees involved be supplied by United not later than January 14, 1963. On January 11 United advised that the request was premature and requested a hearing as to the scope of the unit involved in the Brotherhood's amended application. It outlined in some detail the past practices of the Board in dealing with such requests and attacked the continued suitability of the R—1706 determination, asking that the case be re-opened and that the group be divided into three separate crafts or classes. On January 17 the Board denied this request. It pointed out that United on September 7, 1962, had objected to the craft proposed in the Brotherhood's original application on the sole ground that it did not conform to R—1706; that the Brotherhood had then amended its request to conform with R—1706; that United had been notified of this change on October 8, 1962; that on October 24 the Board had requested United to furnish the number of employees in the craft or class as amended and that it had furnished this information on November 2, stating that there were 12,451 as of a given date; and that it had failed to furnish the names of the employees. The Board then commented that 'the carrier is not a party to this representation dispute'; that 'no request for a review of * * * Case No. R—1706, et al. has been received from either organization party to NMB Case No. 3590' (the pending application of the Brotherhood); and that United's request was 'not timely made, since the Board, on December 19, 1962, found that a representation dispute existed among the employees in this craft or class, and has authorized an election.' United requested reconsideration of this decision, but without success.

Meanwhile, on January 18, 1963, when United advised the Board that it was 'willing to allow a ballot box election on Company property provided the ballot follows the form used by the National Labor Relations Board,' i.e., the ballot 'would have a space for the employee to vote against representation as well as space for the employee to vote for representation' by the Brotherhood or the Machinists. (Emphasis in the original.) The Board replied that its form of ballot had been used since 1934 and that it saw no reason to depart from it. Thereafter United advised that it would furnish the list of employees by February 11, but on that date the list was refused and action was begun the next day against the Board in the District Court for the District of Columbia. This case was later dismissed, as we have noted.

It appears that while the election was being delayed the Association was being organized among United's employees. By March 1963 it claimed 6,400 members, about 50% of the total number of United's employees. It sought, like United, to be heard in a craft or class proceeding and to have the ballot amended. It stated, however, that it did not seek recognition as a bargaining representative, and it did not want its name on the ballot. It intended to dissolve after the election. The Board denied the applications.

After United's case was dismissed, the Association filed a similar suit in the same court, seeking substantially the same relief. The Brotherhood was permitted to intervene, and it filed a separate appeal from that of the Board after the court had disposed of the case as we have already stated.

After we granted certiorari, the Board adopted an amended form of ballot on which there appears the following directly above the names of the unions seeking election as representative:


'No employee is required to vote. If less than a majority of the employees cast valid ballots, no representative will be certified.'

In effect, this amended ballot stated on its face what has been the practice of the Board in these elections since its inception. The Board has announced its intention to use this form of ballot in future representation elections, including any that may be held in this particular matter.


The major objective of the Railway Labor Act, 44 Stat. 577, as amended, 45 U.S.C. §§ 151—188 (1958 ed.), was 'the avoidance of industrial strife, by conference between the authorized representatives of employer and employee.' Virginian R. Co. v. System Federation No. 40, 300 U.S. 515, 547, 57 S.Ct. 592, 599, 81...

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