295 F.2d 209 (5th Cir. 1961), 18286, International Ass'n of Machinists, AFL-CIO v. Central Airlines, Inc.

Docket Nº:18286.
Citation:295 F.2d 209
Party Name:INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS, AFL-CIO, R. K. Doud, S. V. Cornstubble, O. L. Broom, C. R. Casey, P. R. Davis and E. E. Fuqua, Appellants, v. CENTRAL AIRLINES, INC., Appellee.
Case Date:October 13, 1961
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

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295 F.2d 209 (5th Cir. 1961)

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS, AFL-CIO, R. K. Doud, S. V. Cornstubble, O. L. Broom, C. R. Casey, P. R. Davis and E. E. Fuqua, Appellants,



No. 18286.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

October 13, 1961


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J. Morris, Dallas, Tex., Mullinax, Wells, Morris & Mauzy, Dallas, Tex., Plato E. Papps, Washington D.C., of counsel, for appellants.

Walter E. Jordan, Harold E. Mueller, Karl H. Mueller, Hudson, Keltner, Jordan & Cunningham and Mueller & Mueller, Fort Worth, Tex., for appellee.

Before RIVES, BROWN, and WISDOM, Circuit Judges.

WISDOM, Circuit Judge.

The sole issue here is whether a federal court has jurisdiction of this suit as one arising under the laws of the United States.

The International Association of Machinists, AFL-CIO, the certified bargaining representative of Central Airlines' mechanics and stock and stores employees, joined by six aggrieved employees, sued Central Airlines, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The plaintiffs ask for enforcement of an award rendered by a system board of adjustment (arbitration). There is no diversity of citizenship. As to jurisdiction, the complaint alleges only that the court has jurisdiction of this action under 28 U.S.Code Section 1331, 1'this being a matter * * * (that) arises under the laws of the United States, specifically under the Railway Labor Act.' The district court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction. We affirm.

Central Airlines and the Union entered into a System Board Agreement in accordance with Section 184 of the Railway Labor Act 2 imposing a duty on every air carrier and its employees, acting

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through their representatives, to establish a board of adjustment to settle disputes 'growing out of grievances or out of the interpretation or application of any of the terms of (the collective bargaining agreement)'. Pending the establishment of a permanent national board, similar to the National Railroad Adjustment Board, airlines and their employees are dependent upon contract for the establishment of adjustment boards. 3 Section 184 does not define the jurisdiction of a board, except to the extent of providing that a board shall have 'jurisdiction not exceeding the jurisdiction which may be exercised by system, group, or regional boards of adjustment, under the authority of section 153 of this title'. 4 It is clear, therefore, that although the statute requires the parties to establish a board, without a contract there would be no board. It is also clear that the parties must look to the contract for the composition, procedures, and jurisdiction (within Section 153) of an airline system board of adjustment.

In April 1958 Central discharged six of its employees, the individual plaintiffs, because they refused, while under suspension from the Company, to attend a hearing at which the Company denied them the right to have a union representative present. The discharged employees went through the preliminary stages of a formal grievance proceeding without reaching settlement, and the Union appealed the case to the system board of adjustment. The board, composed of two company representatives and two union representatives, deadlocked on the case. The National Mediation Board then appointed a neutral referee. The five-member board held that Central's refusal to allow the grievants the right of representation and the discharge of the grievants violated the collective bargaining agreement. The board rendered an award ordering that the six discharged employees be reinstated without loss of seniority and with full pay during the term of their attempted discharge. Central refused to comply with the award on the ground that the board exceeded its jurisdiction and authority as set forth in the 'governing Agreement' between the parties 'covering the establishment and maintenance of a System Board of Adjustment'.


The appellants' broadest contention, based on Textile Workers Union of America v. Lincoln Mills, 1957, 353 U.S. 448, 77 S.Ct. 912, 1 L.Ed.2d 972, is that the rights asserted in their complaint are necessarily federal rights flowing from federal law. The argument runs something like this: just as the Labor Management Act is a congressional mandate to federal courts to fashion federal law governing the substance of collective bargaining agreements under that act, the Railway Labor Act is a direction to create a body of substantive federal law governing the substance of collective bargaining agreements in the airline industry; the plaintiffs' cause of action comes from this new body of federal substantive law. Appellants recognize, of course, that Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act excludes any persons covered by the Railway Labor Act, but they contend that the two statutes,

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construed together, show a consistent statutory pattern.

A crucial difference between two statutes may be more significant than similarities. So it is here. Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act provides specifically for federal district court jurisdiction over suits involving collective bargaining agreements in industries affecting interstate commerce. 5 It was this provision that the Supreme Court interpreted in Lincoln Mills as 'more than jurisdictional'. In itself it was the statutory source for the congressional direction that federal courts 'fashion a body of federal law for the enforcement of these collective bargaining agreements'. 353 U.S. at 451. But there is no specific statutory provision for district court jurisdiction over suits under Section 184 of the Railway Labor Act. Since Section 184 has no express grant of jurisdiction that is 'more than jurisdictional' and has no language even remotely equivalent to Section 301, Section 184 of the Railway Labor Act lacks the foundation on which the Court, in Lincoln Mills, based its decision that federal law (even if it were necessary to fashion a body of federal law) governs the substance of collective bargaining agreements under the Labor Management Act.

It is also clear that Congress did not choose the direct course of providing that federal law, statutory or decisional, should control the substantive features of labor contracts in the airlines industry. Nothing in Section 184 indicates any intention to affect the substance of collective bargaining agreements. 6 Section 184 of the Railway Labor Act relates solely to the procedure for settling disputes over the interpretation or application of the agreements. National policy, as expressed in the statute, requires that airlines and unions set up a procedure for settling grievances; federal law governs certain questions integral to this settlement process, 7 but the statutory purpose does not require that the underlying contract rights and duties be brought under federal law, and no inference to that effect can be drawn from any language in the statute. There is therefore no statutory necessity for fashioning an imposing

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edifice of substantive federal law as the jurisdictional basis for the rights asserted in this suit. Terminal Railroad Ass'n of St. Louis v. Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, 1943, 318 U.S. 1, 63 S.Ct. 420, 87 L.Ed. 571; 8 Hettenbaugh v. Airline Pilots Ass'n International, 5 Cir., 1951, 189 F.2d 319. 9


The appellants, more narrowly than in the contention just discussed, argue that Section 184 providing for airline system boards of adjustment creates a federal right in the enforcement of the award.

On this point we consider our decision in Metcalf v. National Airlines, 5 Cir., 1959, 271 F.2d 817 controlling. In Metcalf this Court faced substantially the same question at issue here, although, as the question was presented, the Court found it necessary to focus on the applicability of Section 153, subd. 1(p) 10 to an award of a system board rather than on the federal question issue. This Court squarely held that in non-diversity cases an airline system board award is not enforceable in the federal courts under Section 184. In Metcalf, as in the instant case, an aggrieved employee sued to enforce an award of a system board established under Section 184 of the Railway Labor Act. The plaintiff contended that Section 153, subd. 1(p), establishing federal jurisdiction to enforce an award granted by the National Railway Labor Adjustment Board, applied to awards of an airline system board. This Court distinguished between awards of the National Railway Labor Adjustment Board and lower-status awards of an airline system board: the awards of an airline system board, unlike those of the National Railway Adjustment Board, carry 'no legislative determination as to their finality or as to their being a basis of federal suit jurisdiction'. 11 Judge

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Tuttle, speaking for the Court, held: 'The legislative design of Congress is clearly expressed. Such design is to grant to those winning arbitration awards the right to sue on them in federal courts only when and if the Mediation Board creates a National Air Transport Adjustment Board whose award is ignored or not complied with by the carrier. Then only does Section 153(p) become operative in the air industry.' 271 F.2d 817, 820.

At appellants' strongly urged request to take a fresh look at the jurisdictional issue notwithstanding Metcalf, we have examined the statute in its entirety.

As previously stated, the Act is bare of any provision for federal court enforcement of system board awards; and we have not found, nor have appellants pointed out, any provision carrying the implication that such enforcement was intended. See Duplisea v. Maine Central Railroad, 1 Cir., 1960, 260 F.2d 495. The Union contends that...

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