373 U.S. 113 (1963), 316, Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers,

Docket Nº:No. 316
Citation:373 U.S. 113, 83 S.Ct. 1158, 10 L.Ed.2d 235
Party Name:Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers,
Case Date:May 13, 1963
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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373 U.S. 113 (1963)

83 S.Ct. 1158, 10 L.Ed.2d 235

Brotherhood of Railway and Steamship Clerks, Freight Handlers,

No. 316

United States Supreme Court

May 13, 1963

Express and Station Employees v. Allen

Argued March 25, 1963

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NORTH CAROLINA

Syllabus

A group of nonunion railroad employees sued in a North Carolina State Court to enjoin enforcement of a union shop agreement entered into between a railroad and several unions representing their employees under § 2 Eleventh, of the Railway Labor Act, which required all employees to pay uniformly exacted union initiation fees, assessments, and dues, in order to keep their jobs. The complaint alleged that sums exacted under the agreement "have been and are and will be regularly and continually used" to finance political activities "directly at cross-purposes with the free will and choice of the plaintiffs." A jury made separate findings that moneys exacted under the agreement were used by the unions for purposes not reasonably necessary or related to collective bargaining, including certain political activities. The trial court enjoined the unions

from placing any compulsion of any nature upon the [plaintiffs] . . . whereby they . . . against their free will and choice would be required to join the Defendant Unions . . . or pay money to said Unions,

provided, however, that, upon a showing by the unions of the proportion of expenditures from exacted funds that was reasonably necessary and related to collective bargaining, the injunction would be modified appropriately. The State Supreme Court affirmed by an equally divided vote.

Held: the judgment is reversed and the cause is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion. Pp. 115-124.

1. The allegation of the complaint that sums exacted under the agreement "have been and are and will be regularly and continually used by the defendant Unions to carry on, finance and pay for political activities directly at cross-purposes with the free will and choice of the plaintiffs" sufficiently stated a cause of action. Pp. 118-119.

(a) Section 2 Eleventh denies the unions the power, over an employee's objection, to use his exacted funds to support political activities which he opposes. International Assn. of Machinists v. Street, 367 U.S. 740. P. 118.

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(b) It would be impracticable to require a dissenting employee to allege and prove each distinct union political expenditure to which he objects; it is enough that he manifests his objection to any political expenditures by the union. P. 118.

(c) However, dissent is not to be presumed, but must be made known to the union by each dissenting employee; this is not a class action, and no plaintiff who does not, in the course of the further proceedings in this case, prove that he objects to such use will be entitled to relief. Pp. 118-119.

2. The trial court's injunction relieving the plaintiffs of all obligation to pay the moneys due under the agreement was improper, even though it was subject to modification if the unions came forward and proved the proportion of exacted funds required for purposes germane to collective bargaining. Pp. 119-120.

(a) Such a remedy is too broad, and might interfere with the performance by the unions of those functions and duties which the Railway Labor Act places upon them to attain its goal of stability in the industry. P. 120.

(b) On remand, the plaintiffs should be given a reasonable time in which to pay to the appropriate union all sums required under the agreement, including arrears, that are owing; and the action must be dismissed as to any plaintiff failing to do this. P. 120.

3. Among the permissible remedies for dissenting employees are an injunction against expenditure for political causes opposed by each complaining employee of a sum, from those moneys to be spent by the union for political purposes, which is so much of the moneys exacted from the employee as is the proportion of the union's total expenditures made for such political activities to the union's total budget, and restitution of such a sum already exacted from the employees and expended by the union over his objection. In order to frame such a decree on remand, it will be necessary to make determinations as to (1) what expenditures disclosed by the record are political, and what percentage of total union expenditures are political expenditures; and the unions, not the individual employees, must bear the burden of proving such proportion. Pp. 120-122.

4. A practical decree to which each plaintiff proving his right to relief would be entitled would order (1) the refund to him of a portion of the exacted funds in the same proportion that union

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political expenditures bear to total union expenditures, and (2) a reduction of future such exactions from him by the same proportion. Pp. 122-124.

256 N.C. 700, 124 S.E.2d 871, reversed, and cause remanded.

BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

By the terms of an agreement (the Agreement) authorized by § 2 Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act1 between

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the Southern Railway Company and a number of railway labor organizations, including the two petitioners herein, employees of Southern are obligated, as a condition of employment, to pay the periodic dues, initiation fees and assessments uniformly required as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership in the union representing their particular class or craft.2 The individual respondents herein are a number of such employees belonging to classes or crafts represented by petitioners.3 When the Agreement was adopted, respondents were not union members. They refused to pay petitioners any part of the moneys required under the Agreement, instead [83 S.Ct. 1161] bringing this action in the Superior Court of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, to restrain its enforcement.4 After a

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trial, the Superior Court granted an injunction upon the jury's separate findings that moneys exacted under the Agreement were used by petitioners for purposes not reasonably necessary or related to collective bargaining, namely, (1) to support or oppose legislation, (2) to influence votes in elections for public office, (3) to make campaign contributions in such elections, (4) to support the death benefits system operated by petitioner Brotherhood of Railway Clerks. The injunction restrained petitioners

from placing any compulsion of any nature upon the [respondents] . . . whereby they . . . against their free will and choice would be required to join the Defendant Unions . . . or pay money to said Unions.

It was provided, however, that, upon a showing by petitioners of the proportion of expenditures from exacted funds that was reasonably necessary and related to collective bargaining, the injunction would be modified appropriately.

On appeal, the Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed, Allen v. Southern R. Co., 249 N.C. 491, 107 S.E.2d 125, holding that judgment for petitioners was required by our decision in Railway Employes' Dept. v. Hanson, 351 U.S. 225, where we held that § 2 Eleventh was a valid exercise by Congress of its powers under the

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Commerce Clause, and did not violate the First Amendment or the Due Process Clause of the Fifth. However, rehearing was granted, and, pending decision thereon, we decided International Assn. of Machinists v. Street, 367 U.S. 740. Upon reconsideration of the Superior Court's judgment in the light of that decision, the Supreme Court of North Carolina divided equally, which had the effect of affirming the lower court's judgment. 256 N.C. 700, 124 S.E.2d 871 (per curiam); see Schoenith v. Town & Country Realty Co., 244 N.C. 601, 94 S.E.2d 592 (per curiam); Ward v. O'Dell Mfg. Co., 126 N.C. 946, 36 S.E. 194. We granted certiorari, 371 U.S. 875, to consider whether the injunction granted by the Superior Court might stand consistently with our decision in Street. b We reverse and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

First. We held in Street

that § 2, Eleventh is to be construed to deny [83 S.Ct. 1162] the unions, over an employee's objection, the power to use his exacted funds to support political causes which he opposes.

367 U.S. at 768-769. Respondents' amended complaint alleges that sums exacted under the Agreement

have been and are and will be regularly and continually used by the defendant Unions to carry on, finance and pay for political activities directly at cross-purposes with the free will and choice of the plaintiffs.

This allegation sufficiently states a cause of action. It would be impracticable to require a dissenting employee to allege and prove each distinct union political expenditure to which he objects; it is enough that he manifests his opposition to any political expenditures by the union.5 But we made clear in Street

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that "dissent is not to be presumed -- it must affirmatively be made known to the union by the dissenting employee." 367 U.S. at 774.6 At trial, only 14 of the respondents testified that they objected to the use of exacted sums for political causes. No respondent who does not, in the course of the further proceedings in this case, prove that he...

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